Alabama Football Update:
Arkansas game is an important SEC West contest
By Hunter Ford
In a brief Wednesday afternoon press conference, Nick Saban said his team practiced “a little bit better today.” The Tide coach emphasized having the right “mindset” to battle what he believes will be a “tough, physical” Razorback running game.
Saban said the Tide is not used to playing against a two-back “downhill” running attack, and said it will be just as hard to adjust to that style of play as it is “an empty backfield.”
Stressing the importance of a contest with an SEC West foe, Saban said he doesn’t believe his team, or any individual player has played at the highest level.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game,” he said. “Nobody on this team has played their best game yet.”
Comparisons to last year’s game, which Alabama won 52-0 at Arkansas, and last week’s 52-7 win by South Carolina over the Razorbacks, also at Arkansas, haven’t sat well with Saban.
“I’ve been asked too many times already about last year’s game, about last week’s game…their game, our game,” he said. Saban said the only thing that matters now, “is how we play Saturday.”
Saban said that “sometimes good is the enemy of great.” He used a golf analogy to emphasize his point. He said the difference between the top ranked pro golfer and the eighth ranked golfer was only a half a stroke. But the difference in prize money for the top ranked golfer was tremendous.
Starting center Ryan Kelly, who was hurt in the first half of the Ole Miss game, has been cleared to play against Arkansas. Offensive lineman Chad Lindsay played two full games in Kelly’s absence, and seems likely to share duties with Kelly against Arkansas.
Saban said Kelly played well before his injury, and Lindsay also played well when he was called on.
“I think it’s good to have the opportunity to play both guys,” Saban said. “The competition is probably good for both guys.”
Referencing back to Arkansas’ two-back running attack, Saban said it was a: “Huge advantage for them. Most teams aren’t used to playing against that.”
To effectively defend against it, Saban said the Tide defenders will need to “be physical, strike blockers, and fill gaps.”
He said “bad stunts” could lead defenders out of plays, but noted “it’s all execution.” “If you don’t strike blockers up front, you have no chance.”
Saban said his own tandem of T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake has been playing well. Saban noted his concern for ball security, which was a problem in the Kentucky game. But he said he had “a lot of confidence” not only in Yeldon and Drake, but with several younger backs including Dee Hart, and two freshmen, not named by Saban.
Arkansas will visit Tuscaloosa with a 3-4 record and a four-game losing streak. Arkansas has not defeated Alabama since a 24-23 double-overtime victory in 2006 at Fayettville.
Saban is 6-0 against Arkansas as the Alabama head coach.
I’ve got to say it, I miss Petrino.
I didn’t like him, but he certainly wasn’t boring, he made Arkansas exciting and gave the SEC West more depth.
Instead, now we have crybabies saying how easy the best team’s schedule is. Then again, a ranked Arkansas wouldn’t change that much—-we don’t even know if LSU will be in the top ten when they come to Tuscaloosa, and the win over the 7th-ranked Aggies seems to be incidental to anyone who wants to pretend Alabama isn’t the best team in the country. Wah.
Arkansas is fun. I’m expecting Alabama to improve on the excellent performances we saw in the Kentucky game, but mostly hoping to avoid injury against Arkansas. We ran Yeldon deep into the game against Kentucky despite the differential and Alabama’s depth at RB. It makes me nervous.
With that said, I would love to see Blake Sims play for the entire second half, handing off to Tenpenny and Henry…
Kelly is awful. I can’t believe there is any discussion of him getting playing time greater than or equal to Lindsay.
I don’t understand how you can say Kelly is awful.
If nothing else, the guy who helped Alabama win 3 of the last 4 national titles thinks Kelly is good enough to recruit and play ahead of Lindsay.
But at least this way we might get to see both play against the same team for similar amounts of time. Maybe that will help the rest of us decide if Lindsay is better.
Make no mistake though, they’re both very good. Kelly is not awful. He wasn’t awful in the snaps he took in-game last year, Barrett Jones certainly didn’t think he was unprepared and instead said Kelly was better than himself, and while nobody can say there isn’t anyone on the team that can improve, I don’t think it makes sense to say it’s all on Kelly or that Kelly is awful.
Lindsay is incredible…and he’s behind Kelly, at least for now. If he stays behind Kelly, that’s not a bad place to be for Alabama. If Lindsay earns the spot, having Kelly behind him doesn’t hurt, either. Depth at center is nearly impossible. We snagged Kelly from tOSU, and we have depth at center. Hopefully we’ll all know more after the Arkansas game to make a comparison.
But if we do, it will likely be because Kelly did his part to help Alabama’s offense get up by four possessions on Arkansas. Having those two competing for that position is only going to make them better, too.
Maybe we won’t have to worry about a center playing with a broken foot anymore, either. Roll Tide.
stop trying to build up a weak Arkansas team to make bama look better when they beat the crap out of them Bama wins this game running away . 41- 13 bama over the hogs.
Stop trying to pretend everyone else is wrong for voting Alabama #1.
Yeah and 49-28 JFF over the Barnturds.