Alabama vs. Arkansas: What Razorbacks Must Do to Stay Competitive with Tide

Justin Welton@JustinWeltonAnalyst IISeptember 15, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - APRIL 21:   Marquel Wade #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks Red Team is tackled by Houston Pruitt #30 of the White Team during the Spring Game at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on April 21, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.   (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Looks can be deceiving. 

What appeared to be a premier early-season matchup between two Top 10 teams now looks like it's going to be a rout.

Arkansas and Alabama renew their rivalry Saturday, but the Razorbacks have received two major losses since the opening of the 2012 campaign: One loss was to Louisiana-Monroe and another loss was quarterback Tyler Wilson, who won't suit up Saturday. 

It's going to be an uphill climb, but here is what the Razorbacks must do to at least stay competitive with the Crimson Tide:


Force defensive game

Arkansas isn't going to match Alabama point for point, but they can attempt to play a defensive-oriented game. 

They allowed 24 points to Jacksonville State and 34 to Louisiana-Monroe, so it may be difficult to play defensive football against a quality team such as Alabama, but this needs to happen if Arkansas wants to stay competitive. 

Running the football, getting off the field on third downs, playing to the crowd—everything has to go perfectly for Arkansas to stay in the game. It starts on the defensive side of the field. 


Win on special teams

Alabama has more talent offensively and defensively, but special teams is about strategy, coaching, will and want-to. It's all about effort.

Arkansas needs to capitalize on its chances on special teams via returning kicks and switching field position on punts. Also, when their offense struggles to put six on the board, the field goal game must be spot-on.

Blocked kicks can change the dynamic of a football game, too. Arkansas needs to be extra aggressive on special teams Saturday to make some type of impact on the outcome. 


Run the football

Knile Davis needs to touch the football more than 20 times if Arkansas wants to be in contention in the second half. After missing all of 2011 with a broken ankle, Davis has averaged nearly four yards per carry through two games. 

Feed him the rock against the stingy Alabama defense. Rushing the football does multiple things to the opposing team. It keeps the other offense off the field, gives energy to the crowd and eats the clock.

Give Davis the ball early and often. 



Alabama 31, Arkansas 10

Let's face it; this is going to be a tough task without quarterback Tyler Wilson. However, if they can play a perfect game, the Razorbacks will at least make a game of it in the second half.

I just don't see them playing a perfect game, though. Alabama is too physical, too talented and Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. 


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