Alabama vs. Arkansas: Complete Game Preview

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystSeptember 11, 2012

Alabama vs. Arkansas: Complete Game Preview

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    The luster for the SEC opener for the University of Alabama and the University of Arkansas took a huge hit with the Razorbacks’ shocking loss to the University of Louisiana at Monroe last weekend. 

    Ironically enough, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban may want to dust off his rant from last week urging the media—and his own team—to still treat its upcoming opponent with the proper respect. 

    While Arkansas may still be reeling from its setback against the Warhawks, this weekend's contest will likely define its season.

    The Tide has its own issues to deal with coming off a lackluster performance in a 35-0 victory over the University of Western Kentucky.

    When the teams met in Fayetteville in 2010, Alabama had to rally late to pull off a 24-20 win and survive a monster game from former Hogs' quarterback Ryan Mallett. So it’s possible that this game could still be the tough test most expected before last weekend’s developments.

    What can Tide fans expect to see from its first conference and division game of 2012?

    Find out everything you need to know about the matchup between the Tide and the Razorbacks in this complete game preview.  

Gameday Info

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    Who: Alabama at Arkansas

    When: Saturday, 3:30 (EDT)

    Where: Fayetteville, Arkansas

    Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)

    TV: CBS

    Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Sirius/XM Channel 91

    Internet Stream: CBSSports.com

Depth Chart for Alabama

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    Offense

    LT – 71 – Cyrus Kouandijo, SO (6’6”, 311)

    63 – Kellen Williams, JR (6’3”, 303)

    LG – 65 – Chance Warmack, SR (6’3”, 320)

    Chad Lindsay, SO (6’2”, 290)

    C – 75 – Barrett Jones, SR (6’5”, 302)

    70 – Ryan Kelly, FR (6’5”, 288)

    RG – 61 – Anthony Steen, JR (6’3”, 303)

    77 – Arie Kouandijo, SO (6’5, 310)

    RT – 76 – D.J. Fluker, JR (6’6”, 335)

    79 – Austin Shepherd, SO (6’5”, 312)

    TE – 89 – Michael Williams, SR (6’6”, 269)

    84 – Brian Vogler, SO (6’7”, 258)

    H – 31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

    82 – Harrison Jones, SO (6’4”, 244)

    21 – Brent Calloway, FR (6’1”, 217)

    QB – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 205)

    12 – Phillip Ely, FR (6’1”, 198)

    RB – 42 – Eddie Lacy, JR (6’0”, 220)

    4 – T.J. Yeldon, FR (6’2”, 216)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

    WR (X) – 2 – DeAndrew White, SO (6’0”, 185)

    9 – Amari Cooper, FR (6’1”, 198)

    80 – Marvin Shinn, FR (6’3”, 198)

    WR (Z) – 83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

    7 – Kenny Bell, JR (6’1”, 180)

    WR (H) – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11, 185)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

    Defense

    DE – 49 – Ed Stinson, JR (6’4”, 282)

    8 – Jeoffrey Pagan, SO (6’4”, 285)

    NG – 54 – Jesse Williams, SR (6’4”, 320)

    62 – Brandon Ivory, SO (6’4”, 315)

    DE – 92 – Damion Square, SR (6’3”, 286)

    90 – Quinton Dial, SR (6’6”, 304)

    Sam OLB – 42 – Adrian Hubbard, SO (6’6”, 248)

    19 – Jonathan Atchison, JR (6’3”, 236)

    Mike ILB – 33 – Trey Depriest, SO (6’2”, 245), or 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245)

    18 – Reggie Ragland, FR (6’2”, 247)

    Will ILB – 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245). or 32 – C.J. Mosley, JR (6’2”, 232)

    11 – Tana Patrick, JR (6’3”, 236)

    Jack OLB – 47 – Xzavier Dickson, SO (6’3”, 262)

    30 – Denzel Devall, FR (6’2”, 243)

    CB – 28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    10 – John Fulton, JR (6’0”, 187)

    CB – 13 – Deion Belue, JR (5’11”, 179)

    24 – Geno Smith, FR (6’0”, 182)

    SS – 37 – Robert Lester, SR (6’2”, 210)

    27 – Nick Perry, JR (6’1”, 208)

    FS – 3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215), or 6 – HaHa Clinton-Dix, SO (6’1”, 209)

    26 – Landon Collins, FR (6’0”, 202)

    Special Teams

    PK – 5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165), or 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1, 218)

    Kickoffs – 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1”, 218)

    Holder – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 210)

    3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

    P – 29 – Cody Mandell, JR (6’4”, 202)

    5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165)

    LS – 51 – Carson Tinker, SR (6’1”, 220)

    31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

    PR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

    KR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

    28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

Depth Chart for Arkansas

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    Offense

    WR – 17 – Brandon Mitchell, JR (6’4”, 230)

    2 – Julian Horton, JR (6’1”, 194)

    4 – Keon Hatcher, FR (6’2”, 205)

    WR – 11 – Cobi Hamilton, SR (6’3”, 209)

    19 – Javontee Herndon, JR (6’1”, 204)

    WR – 22 – Mekale McKay, FR (6’6”, 190)

    81 – Demetrius Wilson, JR (6’3”, 180)

    15 – Keante Minor, SO (6’0”, 205)

    TE – 80 – Chris Gragg, SR (6’3”, 236)

    87 – Austin Tate, JR (6’6”, 253)

    46 – Alex Voelzke, FR (6’6”, 220)

    OT – 69 – David Hurd, JR (6’6”, 300)

    70 – Chris Stringer, SO (6’7”, 304)

    OG – 76 – Tyler Deacon, SR (6’4”, 300)

    75 – Luke Charpentier, SO (6’4”, 305)

    C – 64 – Travis Swanson, JR (6’5”, 305)

    65 – Mitch Smothers, SO (6’4”, 296)

    OG – 67 – Alvin Bailey, JR (6’5”, 312)

    75 – Luke Charpentier, SO (6’4”, 305)

    OT – 74 – Brey Cook, SO (6’7”, 308)

    71 – Jason Peacock, SR (6’4”, 305)

    QB – 8 – Tyler Wilson, SR (6’3”, 220)

    10 – Brandon Allen, FR (6’3”, 212)

    RB – 7 – Knile Davis, JR (6’0”, 226)

    33 – Dennis Johnson, SR (5’9”, 213), or 20 – Ronnie Wingo Jr, SR (6’3”, 231)

    FB – 35 – Morgan Linton, SO (5’11”, 240)

    96 – Grady Ollison, FR (6’5”, 286)

    87 – Austin Tate, JR (6’6”, 253)

    Defense

    DE – 86 – Trey Flowers, SO (6’4”, 243)

    41 – Austin Flynn, JR (6’5”, 260)

    DT – 54 – Bryan Jones, JR (6’2”, 312)

    51 – Alfred Davis, SR (6’1”, 318)

    57 – Jared Green, SR (6’0”, 315)

    DT – 92 – DeQuinta Jones, SR (6’5”, 299)

    98 – Robert Thomas, JR (6’3”, 308)

    DE – 42 – Chris Smith, JR (6’3”, 251)

    90 – Colton Miles-Nash, SR (6’6”, 261)

    OLB – 39 – Jarrett Lake, JR (6’3”, 223)

    24 – Daunte Carr, SO (6’3”, 224)

    MLB – 43 – Tenarius Wright, SR (6’2”, 252)

    5 – Otha Peters, FR (6’2”, 228)

    OLB – 45 – Alonzo Highsmith, SR (6’1”, 233)

    25 – Terrell Williams, SR (6’3”, 232)

    CB – 23 – Kaelon Kelleybrew, SR (5’11”, 180)

    9 – Will Hines, FR (6’1”, 185)

    S – 35 – Ross Rasner, SR (6’0”, 212)

    27 – Alan Turner, SO (6’0”, 212)

    FS – 14 – Eric Bennett, JR (6’0”, 206)

    26 – Rohan Gaines, FR (5’11”, 190)

    CB – 21 – Darius Winston, SR (6’0”, 191)

    13 – Dayvon McKinney, FR (6’3”, 190)

    Special Teams

    K – 18 – Zach Hocker, JR (6’0”, 180)

    43 – John Henson, SO (5’11”, 138)

    P – 14 – Dylan Breeding, SR (6’1”, 211)

    18 – Zach Hocker, JR (6’0”, 180)

    SNP – 53 – Alan D’Appollonio, SO (6’0”, 201)

    56 – Will Coleman, JR (6’3”, 253)

    H – 16 – Brian Buehner, SO (5’11”, 195)

    14 – Dylan Breeding, SR (6’1”, 211)

    KOR – 33 – Dennis Johnson, SR (5’9”, 213)

    22 – Nate Holmes, FR (6’1”, 175)

    20 – Ronnie Wingo Jr, SR (6’3”, 231)

    PR – 22 – Nate Holmes, FR (6’1”, 175)

    33 – Dennis Johnson, SR (5’9”, 213)

What Happened to the Crimson Tide Last Week?

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    Playing in the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time this season, Alabama jumped out to an early 14-0 first quarter lead en route to a 35-0 victory over Western Kentucky University.

    Quarterback A.J. McCarron tied a career-high with four touchdown passes and the defense held the Hilltoppers to 46 yards rushing and forced four turnovers. 

    The victory moved Alabama to 2-0 and helped it maintain the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

What Happened to the Razorbacks Last Week?

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    In a week full of upsets, none was bigger than the Razorbacks 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe. 

    As bad as it felt for Razorbacks fans to watch their team blow a 28-7 second-half lead, the loss could have repercussions for this weekend’s matchup if quarterback Tyler Wilson—who left the game with a head injury and did not return—cannot play against the Tide. 

    The Razorbacks—who were ranked No. 8 in  both polls—tumbled all the way out of the Top 25.   

What It Means to Both Teams

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    Despite losing its billing as a matchup pitting two top-10 teams against one another, this game has huge implications in the race to claim the cutthroat SEC Western division.

    For Alabama, a road victory would keep it in the top spot in the polls and help it stay on course to control its destiny in the division. 

    For Arkansas, a win would erase the heartache the team and its fan base are going through this week and recover its dream of potentially reaching the SEC title game.

Key Player for Alabama

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    Alabama’s defense may have several newcomers in its starting lineup this season, but veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley has stepped up to the plate and been the team’s most active force through two games.

    As strong as Mosley has played, he will have his hands full trying to matchup with Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg—who is the leading receiver this season (14 catches for 193 yards and two touchdowns in two games) for the Razorbacks.

    With Wilson’s status up in the air, and a receiving unit that has struggled, Gragg has been the Hogs most reliable playmaker and the Tide will have to find a way to limit his effectiveness.

    Luckily for Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Mosley is one of the best linebackers—especially in coverage—in the entire nation.  

Key Player for Arkansas

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    After missing last season because of a leg injury, junior tailback Knile Davis has gotten off to a bit of a slow start averaging less than four yards per carry through the Hogs first two games. 

    Even though Alabama’s defense looks as stingy as ever against the run (allowing less than 60 yards per game this season), Davis is easily the best back that the Tide will have faced up to this point in the season. 

    The 6’0”, 225-pounder will have to look more like the back who tore through the SEC in 2010 if his team has any shot to pull the upset.  

Alabama Will Win If ....

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    The Crimson Tide will win if they can force the Hogs to be one-dimensional on offense by shutting down the stable of backs Arkansas has—led by Davis of course.   

    Considering the pressure that the Warhawks were able to generate against Wilson and backup quarterback Brandon Allen, the Razorbacks could be in for a long day if they are unable to achieve balance. 

    Conversely, Alabama can make this matchup easier than it appears if it jumpstarts its own rushing attack—one that regressed in last week’s win over the Hilltoppers.  

Arkansas Will Win If ....

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    If Wilson plays and is somehow able to deliver the finest performance of this collegiate career, that may be the Razorbacks only hope to knock off the defending national champions.

    The Hogs defense—which surrendered 550 yards of total offense to ULM—has to find a way to slow down the Tide offense and force it into turning the ball over (something Alabama has yet to do this season). 

    Even with all of the injuries the Tide has, they still possess one of the best group of skill players the Tide may see all season long—which gives them a puncher's chance if Wilson plays and its defense steps up.  

Prediction

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    With its backs against the wall and the high hopes it had for this season hanging by a thread, Arkansas will likely come out with a tremendous amount of energy in front of its home crowd.

    As mentioned, this Razorbacks squad still has plenty of talent to challenge the Tide if they play at the level they are capable of.

    However, Saban and his Tide have proven time and again their ability to rise to the occasion in tough environment. It is expected that tradition will carry on this weekend. 

    Prediction:  Alabama 34 Arkansas 17