RazOrbaX Hot Points vs No. 3 Alabama
It does not get any bigger than this. Alabama. At Tuscaloosa. CBS national television. No. 3 vs. No. 14. This is why Bobby Petrino came to Arkansas: to lift the program to heights not seen in 30 years. 40 years. If you want to be in the same conversation with the best, you have to beat the best. Arkansas has a long history of competing with but not beating the best. It will be a 60-minute game of speed and hard hits. Amazingly, out of 120-plus plays Saturday, five will probably decide the outcome. Which playmakers make those plays?
Will Bama be the new defining game for Wilson?
READ WELL! Tyler Wilson has to recognize the defense. He is in charge and makes the calls in protection. He must pick up the blitzes that will come and see the coverages. It is time to change what Wilson is known for (the second half of the 2010 Auburn game) to the 2011 Alabama game.
THROW THE RECEIVERS OPEN! A phrase that you hear in professional games because the windows are so small. Both coaches run Pro style systems. Bama's defense is very fast and strong and the defensive backfield is good. The Arkansas receivers are very fast and strong and good. While the Tide will mix coverages it will be up to Wilson to throw the ball where the only Razorbacks can catch it. Especially against the man coverages.
MINIMIZE LOST-YARDAGE PLAYS! I do not expect the HOGS to run the ball on the Tide to the tune of 150-plus yards, but when they do, it needs to be for positive yardage. If it is third-and-2 and the Razorbacks can run for 2-plus and keep the chains moving, it will open up other opportunities.
LINE PLAY! As with the opening paragraph, it is time for the defensive line to come up big. The Alabama offensive line is experience,d and the Razorback line rotation must control the line of scrimmage if Arkansas wants to pull the upset. The talent is there and now we have to see it during a game.
DO NOT GET FOOLED! Nick Saban will run a trick play or two. Last year they tried to fake a flanker screen and throw deep. The last trip to Tuscaloosa it was a long pass off a pitch back to the QB after lining up in the Wildcat formation and handing off on the sweep. Long-play touchdowns are demoralizing.
TOUGH TO TACKLE, TACKLE ANYWAY. I do not know if I have ever seen another running back like Trent Richardson. Stronger than an ox and as fast as anyone on the Bama roster. Good form will be required by the Razorbacks as well as gang tackling. If you get a hold of the Tide ball carriers, HANG ON!
COVERAGE NOT THE KICKING The Arkansas kickers have been great. The coverage teams need to match that. Alabama ran deep kickoffs back against Arkansas last year. Several times the Tide started past the 30. As for the punt coverage, they took advantage of Breeding's punts last year against LSU to contain Patrick Peterson to ZERO return yards on six punts. The HOGS need that Saturday.
Most of the week I have listened to all of the national pundits say that Alabama is just too strong. Arkansas has not played anyone and did not play well against Troy. Well, who has Alabama played? At Penn State. OK, what has Penn State done THIS YEAR? Do we really know how good Alabama is? This is a big game for the seniors, for the coaches and for the Razorbacks. My heart reminds me of the Auburn game in 2006 when the No. 2 Tigers met the underdog HOGS and the total domination by Arkansas 27-10. But my head says that Bama is that good. I really want to be wrong!
Crimson Tide 24, Razorbacks 21