FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ryan Mallett couldn't bring himself to stop watching, not that he really wanted to.
The Arkansas quarterback spent his two off days following Saturday's 24-20 loss to No. 1 Alabama watching the game again and again. He saw the mistakes, saw the Razorbacks build a 20-7 lead midway through the third quarter, only to allow the Crimson Tide to score 17 unanswered points to end the game.
Most of all, Mallett saw his mistakes in the form of three interceptions, two in the critical fourth quarter. They are mistakes he plans to use as motivation as No. 15 Arkansas enters its off week before returning to action next week against Texas A&M in Cowboys Stadium.
"I think it makes you work harder, when you watch it and you see the pain you went through after you had them by throat and you just didn't finish it," Mallett said. "It adds something to you. ... Every time that I watch it from now and into the future is going to be tough; knowing you had the No. 1 team in here and you let it slip by."
Arkansas (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) returned to practice on Tuesday after coach Bobby Petrino gave the team time off to recover. The Razorbacks equaled the Crimson Tide in total yardage (421-421) in the game, but Alabama outgained Arkansas 227-64 on the ground.
The Razorbacks are averaging 365 yards passing per game this season, compared to just 103 yards on the ground.
"The idea of we want is to be very balanced on offense, to be able to run and throw the ball," Petrino said. "Right now, we've got to get our running game to catch up to what we're doing passing the ball."
Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said the return to practice was especially good for Mallett, who entered the game as a Heisman Trophy hopeful. Mallett was 25 of 38 passing for 357 yards and a touchdown in the loss, but it was his late interceptions — particularly the last one — that stood out.
With Arkansas trailing 24-20 and driving with less than two minutes remaining, Mallett tried to throw a ball out of bounds on second-and-9 near midfield. The pass was underthrown and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick picked it off to seal the win.
McGee said he talked with Mallett about the game in detail and he has no doubt the quarterback will recover.
"He understands the position," McGee said. "He was built to be a quarterback. He understands the responsibility that goes on with being a quarterback, and he understands that you can play 72 snaps in a game, and if the last five snaps are really bad, that's all we're going to remember. That's what you sign up for when you play the position."
Senior tight end D.J. Williams, who had five catches for 63 yards against Alabama, said Arkansas still had "a lot of mental wounds to heal" following the loss. However, Williams did notice Mallett's upbeat attitude before and during practice this week, something he said carried over to the entire team.
"I think everybody on this team put their whole heart into that football game, so when we lost it was very tough for everybody," Williams said. "Siting around those two days was very hard, and I think it was good to get out (to practice)."