Arkansas at Alabama: 6 Things the Tide Must Do to Stop Razorbacks

Jimmy McMurreyAnalyst IISeptember 20, 2011

Arkansas at Alabama: 6 Things the Tide Must Do to Stop Razorbacks

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    The Arkansas Razorbacks. They lost to 'Bama in 2009 in Tuscaloosa, and again in 2010 at home in failed upset. How long will it take the Pigs to get revenge on the Crimson Tide?

    Three days and a wake-up are what Arky fans are hoping for. 

    The boys in crimson—a color not to be confused with redneed to do a few things to make sure that doesn't happen. 

    A loss here wont ruin the season, but it could potentially keep them out of both the SEC and national championship games. 

Shut Down Hogs Quarterback Tyler Wilson

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    Let's get the big one out of the way first. Arkansas is a passing team, and their star running back is hurt (more on that later). Alabama's Evil Knievel defensive backs will need to make some hard hits to keep Wilson from completing any passes. 

    Wilson may be no Ryan Mallett, but his passing ability cannot be underestimated.  He is, by far, the best quarterback they have played this far into the year. The lack of interceptions by the Tide will have Wilson feeling very confident coming into this game.

    If the defensive backs are to have any luck, they will need the defensive line and Courtney Upshaw/Dont'a Hightower to get a lot of pressure. 

    If these two parts of the defense can't shut down Tyler Wilson, then he will nickel and dime them to death. Pun intended. 

Do Not Underestimate Running Back Ronnie Wingo, Jr.

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    If Tyler Wilson will be the best quarterback the Tide face thus far, then Ronnie Wingo, Jr. is the best running back. And boy, is he a load. 

    Wingo is 6'3", 231 lbs. That is a big running back. The Tide has been good at plugging up running lanes against the weaker opponents, but this big, bruising back will make them pay if he finds a crease. 

    With running backs this large, you cannot let them get the steam rolling past the line of scrimmage, because they will be hitting the first down marker more often than not.

    I'm sure some fans breathed a sigh of relief when they heard star Hog running back Knile Davis was injured, but the Tide might be taking an uppercut instead of a hook on this trade-off.

    Ronnie Wingo, Jr. has been gathering up a solid five-plus yards-per-carry so far in the season. Alabama's defense cannot scoff at him and spread the field around with defensive backs, and you can bet Nick Saban knows this. 

    Arkansas also brings in a compact running machine in 5'9", 213 lbs. Dennis Johnson.  His build is not a far cry from that of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, but his play might be. 

Keep an Eye on Tight End and Running Back Checkdowns.

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    Arkansas brings in a healthy makeup of wide receivers, including towering Greg Childs and Kobi Hamilton, both 6'3". The Tide secondary will be on them like gravy on biscuits, but they cannot neglect the Hog's tight ends.

    Quarterback Tyler Wilson is not afraid of going through his progressions and hitting tight ends and running backs for short gains. Tight end Chris Gragg has already hauled in eight passes for 86 yards this year, more than all but three of the Hog's receivers. 

    Gragg is built like a big receiver, not a blocking tight end. At 6'3", 236 lbs., he's big enough and fast enough to make linebackers in coverage pay.  When—not ifhe gets the ball, the safeties will need to be nearby to make a mean hit. 

Do Not Let the Razorback Offensive Line Dominate the Line of Scrimmage

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    This point is linked directly to pressure on the the quarterback and stopping the run.

    The Hogs' offensive line is nothing to joke about, and their left tackle, though a freshman, has a condor-like wingspan to make Courtney Upshaw's job very difficult.  Here's a breakdown of their first and second string offensive line.

    LT 74 Brey Cook Fr., 6'7", 317 OR 
    71 Jason Peacock Jr., 6'4", 334 

    LG 72 Grant Cook Sr., 6'4", 318 
    76 Tyler Deacon Jr., 6'4", 300 

    64 Travis Swanson So., 6'5", 305 
    76 Tyler Deacon Jr., 6'4", 300 

    RG 67 Alvin Bailey So., 6'5", 319  
    71 Jason Peacock Jr., 6'4", 334 

    RT 79 Grant Freeman Sr., 6'7", 305  OR 
    78 Anthony Oden So., 6'8", 320

    A 6'8", 320 lbs. tackle?  As a backup?  That should have the Tide defensive line concerned. 

    Once again, this is the best offensive line the Tide have faced this year, and the biggest.  There will be no whiffed blocks here. 

Stop Defensive End Jake Bequette

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    Senior defensive end Jake Bequette is 6'5", 271 lbs. You can't let his weight fool you. He's very lean, quick and strong. 

    He had seven solo sacks last year and 8.5 tackles for loss, and against some of the best competition in the nation. He has no trouble finding the back field.

    Bequette wont be much of a concern for the Alabama running game, but he can potentially give young quarterback A.J. McCarron fits. 

Run the Ball and Run It Some More

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    Arkansas has too potent a passing attack to let them have the ball. The Tide has to win in time of possession.

    Keeping the Arkansas defense on the field will keep the ball out of Tyler Wilson's hands. This will eliminate the chance of Arkansas gaining a lead that would force A.J. McCarron to win the game, not to mention shutting up the crowd at Bryant-Denny. 

    The Tide must score early, and fast, and then run, run, run.  Keeping ball in Tide hands through a dominant run game will keep the 'Bama defense fresh and ready to roll. 

    Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy may get stalled now and then, but reverting to an untested passing game is a good way to get Saban to blow up the locker room. 

    Arkansas 3-0 and ranked 14 in the AP polls for a reason. 

    Here comes the SEC grind.