Before the game, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Clinton-Dix would play “situationally” against Arkansas. Situationally came earlier than expected as Clinton-Dix touched the field on Alabama’s third defensive play.
Clinton-Dix said he found out Friday afternoon the NCAA had lifted his indefinite suspension, which meant he would play in Saturday’s game against Arkansas.
He missed two games while suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules, but added that he did everything to “keep his spirits up” while suspended.
He came in at safety when the Tide lined up in its dime defensive package. On the Razorbacks’ second offensive drive, Clinton-Dix showed why he is one of the Tide’s most important players as he made an interception.
“I’ve been working hard through this setback with the NCAA and continuing to get better,” Clinton-Dix said.
Clinton-Dix played for much of the game until it was out of reach and the Tide started playing reserves.
“It was great having him back,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “His presence was felt this game.”
Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri went down late in the first quarter with a knee injury.
Sunseri did not return to the game, but did return to the sideline in street clothes.
Saban said Sunseri’s injury “might be serious” and that he would have a MRI on Sunday.
Starting cornerback Bradley Sylve also left the game with an injury. Sylve went out late in the second quarter and did not return. Saban said Sylve has a high ankle sprain.
True freshman running back Altee Tenpenny also went down. Saban said Tenpenny has a turf toe.
Piling on the points
Dating back to 2011, Alabama has scored 104 unanswered points against Arkansas.
The Razorbacks were in scoring position with a field goal attempt, but it was blocked by Tide cornerback Deion Belue.
Sophomore wide receiver Amari Cooper scored his first touchdown of the season on a 30-yard strike from quarterback AJ McCarron.
Cooper is slowly working his way back to 100 percent after being slowed by toe and foot injuries earlier this year.
True freshman tight end O.J. Howard caught his first career touchdown on a 17-yard pass from McCarron. Howard caught the short pass and walked into the endzone with no Razorback defenders within five yards of him.
For the 16th straight game, Alabama has recorded at least one rushing touchdown, and has had multiple scores on the ground in 14 of those 16 contests.
In the first half of Saturday’s game against Arkansas, Kenyan Drake had a pair of rushing touchdowns, first a 1-yarder followed by a 46-yard score.
The Crimson Tide has another home game Saturday with Tennessee traveling to Tuscaloosa.
The Vols (4-3, 1-2 SEC) are coming off a 23-21 upset win over South Carolina. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and CBS will carry the game.
Saban hasn’t lost to Tennessee while at Alabama, compiling a 6-0 mark with the last three wins coming by 31 points each.
Before Saban arrived, Alabama had lost 10 of the previous 12 to the Vols.