Alabama vs. Arkansas: Who's Under More Pressure, Hogs Defense or Knile Davis?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2012

Arkansas S Rohan Gaines (No. 26) and LB Alonzo Highsmith (No. 45)
Arkansas S Rohan Gaines (No. 26) and LB Alonzo Highsmith (No. 45)Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Remember when Alabama vs. Arkansas was supposed to be one of the defining games of the 2012 SEC season?

What was supposed to be a mini-Game of the Century has taken on more of an apprehensive tone after Arkansas's overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe and the head injury to star Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson.

Considering Wilson's status is still in doubt and the Hogs let Warkhawks quarterback Kolton Browning torch them to the tune of 481 total yards last week, there are plenty of questions in Fayetteville.

But who's under the most pressure, Arkansas running back Knile Davis or the Razorbacks defense?

The answer is simple—it's the Razorbacks defense.

New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes was supposed to be the cure for the Willy Robinson blues. Two games into his tenure with Arkansas, he's proven to be more of a liability than an elixir.

The Razorbacks currently rank 88th in the nation in total defense and have given up an average of 436 yards per game, and it's not like they've played traditional powers. They've played ULM and Jacksonville State.


The play-calling of offensive coordinator Paul Petrino after Wilson left the game vs. ULM left a lot to be desired, but there is a silver lining. Now that wide receiver Brandon Mitchell has been moved back to quarterback to share snaps with Brandon Allen if Wilson can't go, Alabama has to prepare for both a pro-style attack and Mitchell's danger as a dual-threat quarterback.

It's not much, but it's a different dimension. Either way, you'd have to assume that Davis will figure prominently into the game plan no matter who's taking the snap.

The talking point out of Fayetteville this week is that Arkansas' goal to win the SEC still remains in front of them. That's lip service, but it's also accurate.

But if Arkansas can't get its defensive woes turned around, any thoughts of winning the SEC will be distant memories and be replaced by a struggle to become bowl eligible.

The offense is a question mark, but you'd have to think that, with a week to prepare, the coaching staff will remember that Davis still is part of the team and will get him the ball. But defense has been an issue in Fayetteville for years, and the program has to figure that out this week if it's going to have any chance at topping the Crimson Tide on Saturday.