RazOrbaX Report: hootens.com therapist Dr. Dennis outlines 7-step program to beat Bama
September 15 is almost here, and most of Razorback Nation is still hung over. Is there anything Arkansas can do to beat Alabama Saturday? The short answer is no. Sorry to be blunt. The longer answer is probably not, but ... . So, what can the Razorbacks do to turn "probably not" into a "maybe"?
No. 1: Win the matchups you can. One area the Razorbacks should win is the kicking game. Dylan Breeding (Hoover, Ala.) has a career average of 42 yards at Arkansas. That ranks him fifth on the all-time list. He can't shank it, nor can he out-kick the coverage to allow Alabama a chance to return. When called on to drop one inside the 20, he must produce. The punt coverage team must tackle well. Zach Hocker has been great since his first kick as a Razorback. He must continue to blast the ball out of the end zone and start the Tide at the 25. He already ranks in Arkansas' Top 10 or better for most kickoffs, PATs and field goals. His career long is 52 yards, so when the Arkansas reaches the Alabama 35, the HOGS must get points!
Hog punter Dylan Breeding
On the return side, I expect Alabama to "moon kick" the ball to the corners inside the 10-yard line and make Dennis Johnson return the football. They believe in their speed and strength and will do this to start the Arkansas offense as far behind the 25-yard line as possible. Johnson has been close to breaking a return on a couple of kicks this year but one defender has eluded a blocker and kept that from happening. The return team must get "a hat on a hat." Nate Holmes has one job on punts: catch and secure the football. Anything after that is gravy.
No. 2 The defense must control gaps on the line of scrimmage. The tackles and ends have played well, but on the biggest plays this year (especially QB runs) they have lost gap control. Arkansas cannot let an Alabama running back have any cutback lanes.
No. 3 If you get to the QB, tackle him. When the opposing QB has broken containment against the HOGS this year, it has been disastrous. Many of those times an Arkansas defender had a one-on-one shot at the QB and did not make the play. Alabama has too much speed and strength, and if QB McCarron gets a second or third chance to make a play down field, it will be a long day for the Razorbacks.
No. 4 Frank Broyles used to talk about his secondary "searching" the receiver when the ball arrived. The Razorback d-backs must stay in contact with the Tide receivers, "search them" when the ball arrives, hit them extremely hard, pin their arms and finish the tackle.
No. 5 If Tyler Wilson plays, he must be protected. One way to do that is with the "quick" passing game out of Pistol or shotgun formations. Snap the ball, look and throw. Get rid of it quickly, and if the receiver is not open, throw it away. And when the ball hits receivers in the hands, they must CATCH IT and lock it up!
No. 6 In 2010, Knile Davis showed flashes of things to come against Alabama. Whether Knile or Dennis Johnson, the Razorbacks must muster some kind of ground game.
No. 7 Absolutely no turnovers. The HOGS have not done that, yet, trading fumbles in the first game for interceptions in the second. Arkansas will get hit and get hit hard, but most of these Hogs have played Alabama and understand what's coming.
So where will you be Saturday? If you have tickets, get to DWR Razorback Stadium and cheer on YOUR Razorbacks. Tailgating starts early for a 2:30 PM CBS broadcast. Wear your cardinal, bring your voice and passion and "Root HOG or Die." I will have fun at the game, despite my prediction. But anything can happen. That's why they play the games. Alabama 35, Arkansas 16.