Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Complete Game Preview
After dismantling Kentucky, Alabama returns home to face its next SEC sacrificial lamb, Arkansas.
The Razorbacks haven't exactly lit up the conference under first-year coach Bret Bielema, but they boast a strong rushing attack, something Alabama hasn't really seen this year.
The game will feature two "traditional" offenses, a rarity in the SEC, which is trending toward the uptempo spread teams.
Here's all the info you need:
Date: Saturday, Oct. 19
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Razorback Sports Network
Spread: Alabama by 28-29 points, according to Vegas Insider
Alabama Keys to Victory
Stop the Hogs' Rushing Duo
Alabama hasn't seen a physical running attack like Arkansas boasts this year. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams are ranked second and sixth, respectively, in the SEC in rushing yards, playing in Bieleman's ground-and-pound offense.
It will be a tough test for Alabama's front seven, which hasn't faced a physical attack like this yet.
Don't Get Complacent
The Crimson Tide are in the lull of their schedule right now. The excitement from games like Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and Ole Miss have worn off, but LSU and Auburn are still almost a month away. There are still two games left before a bye week and a showdown with the Tigers.
It would be easy for Alabama to have an off-day, especially at home.
Arkansas Keys to Victory
Alabama gave Kentucky a couple of chances early in the game to get ahead, but the Wildcats couldn't take advantage. If Arkansas wants to pull the upset, it needs to jump on the few opportunities it will be presented.
Ground and Pound Away
Arkansas needs to do what it does best and run the ball. The Crimson Tide are seventh in the country in run defense, giving up just 87.2 yards per game, but Arkansas is 113th in the country in passing yards. It needs to go strength against strength Saturday.
Alabama Players to Watch
Drake exploded against Kentucky, showing that he can be the No. 2 option behind T.J. Yeldon. He should get plenty of carries Saturday and will have an opportunity to solidify his spot in the rushing rotation.
The freshman defensive lineman recorded two sacks last week and now leads the team with four on the year. He will play a key role in disrupting the line of scrimmage Saturday.
Arkansas Players to Watch
Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams
The Razorbacks' rushing duo is one of the few things Arkansas has going for it this year. The pair will not only give Arkansas the best chance to win, but they will also be a good litmus test for Alabama's front seven.
The senior defensive lineman ranks seventh in the country in sacks with six. He will play a key role in disrupting the Alabama offense, which exploded for 668 yards of offense against Kentucky.
What They're Saying
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wants to instill some mental toughness in his players after a few big losses, according to Kurt Voigt of The Associated Press (via the Ledger-Enquirer):
"It's kind of blown me away that there's such a focal point or a blow up of a bad situation," Bielema said.
"I mean, it's the same team that's done some pretty positive things. The goings getting a little bit tough, and our guys revert back to that, and it's just something you have to get out of your system."
Playing Arkansas will be a welcome break from facing spread teams, according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com:
"It will be a little bit different because we have played these spread teams that like to sling it around a little bit," [Alabama safety Vinnie] Sunseri said. His versatility to play at the line of scrimmage and in coverage has become coveted with the rise of the HUNH, but he's still a masher at heart, the son of a defensive line coach who values grit. "It will be fun to play the run a little bit more," he added.
Alabama has been winning so big, even the walk-ons are getting in on the action, writes Andrew Gribble of AL.com:
[AJ] McCarron had a front-row place on the sidelines to watch both of his grabs, which amassed a combined 16 yards. He doesn't field too many questions about [Parker] Barrineau, so he made the most of his answer Monday.
"Parker B. works hard, especially during the summer," McCarron said. "I'm always messing with him for him to be so slow playing receiver to find some way to get open. He really does catch everything that comes his way.
"It really is great seeing Parker get his chance out there and make some plays."
Center Ryan Kelly might make his way back into the lineup this week, according to Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star:
Center Ryan Kelly (knee) split first team reps with Chad Lindsay. There's no word on if Kelly will play on Saturday, but the coaches appear to be working him back into the rotation.
Alabama 38, Arkansas 7
Alabama will continue to roll through its SEC schedule, with Arkansas being the latest victim. The Razorbacks aren't close to competing in the SEC West like they used to, and it will be even more evident Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.