Alabama Football: Saban says matchup with Arkansas is like NFL

The game between Alabama and Arkansas is big. It pits defense against offense. Nick Saban compared the challenge of facing Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino as something like facing a professional football offense.

“This is a lot like pro football,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. “This is what you get ready for every week because that’s how most of those teams are built. This is certainly a pro-style offense, and they have some very good players. They do a really good job, and they want to start fast. They are going to challenge you vertically down the field as well as get everybody running and send somebody across and hit them on the run. Every mistake you make in pass defense, you have a little bit of an issue with in terms of getting them covered.”

Getting receivers covered will fall to Alabama’s secondary. And two members of the Alabama defensive backfield were hobbled as work began on Arkansas. (See story here.) Both Safety Robert Lester and Cornerback Dee Milliner are expected to be important parts of Alabama’s plan against an explosive Arkansas offense led by offensive guru and head coach Bobby Petrino. Lester and Milliner should return to practice Tuesday, according to Saban.

The Arkansas receivers present an interesting challenge to Alabama. Saban praised Arkansas’ offense and gave high praise to the Razorback receivers.

“They’re a really good offensive team,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. “they’re very productive. (Bobby Petrino) a great offensive coach. The quarterback (Tyler Wilson) has played well for them. They probably have the best four wide receivers—I haven’t seen all the wide receivers in the country, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to say the best group in the country, but I guess I would like to see the group that’s better than these four guys, even to match their previous performance and production, in terms of what they’ve been able to do for their team.”

Returning to the professional football comparison, Saban said Arkansas’ offense provides different looks to confuse the defense—something often seen in pro football.

“I think when you play a team like Arkansas, they do a lot different things,” Saban said. “Conceptually, they’re the same things, but it is typical NFL style where they do it in a different way than how you practiced.”

Alabama Offensive line update
For those interested in Alabama’s offensive line, Saban said the team was able to get Cyrus Kouandjio over 40 snaps in the North Texas win. Saban said this was important for the development of the freshman left tackle prospect.

“You only learn so much in practice, and we were happy to get him to play that much and I’m sure he’ll learn and improve because of it,” Saban said.

He went on to praise Cyrus Kouandjio’s work for the Crimson Tide.

“Cyrus is really doing a good job for us,” Saban said. “He’s certainly made a tremendous amount of progress and improvement. I don’t think that there’s any doubt that he’s athletic and is going to be a very good player at that position.”