Saturday morning inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, No. 11 Alabama (5-1, 3-0 SEC) will face Arkansas (2-4, 0-3 SEC) for the 34th time. Alabama has won 16 straight over the Razorbacks and leads the all-time series 26-7.
Here are a few things to watch for this Saturday as the Tide play host to Arkansas.
Early Kick Time
Coming off a huge road win over Texas A&M and with Tennessee on deck next week, Saturday against Arkansas could be a difficult game to get up for. Add in the element of an early 11 a.m. kick, and all the ingredients are there for an Alabama team to come out flat. It will be interesting to see how much juice the fans and players have on Saturday. We can fully anticipate that an animated Nick Saban will be in attendance.
Which KJ Jefferson will the Crimson Tide see on Saturday? Last year, Alabama held Jefferson in check both on the ground and through the air in a 49-26 blowout win with Jefferson leaving the game early with an injury. Two years ago, the last time Arkansas traveled to Tuscaloosa, Jefferson’s stats were much different. The quarterback threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, coming up just short of the upset victory. If Jefferson can replicate his 2021 visit to Tuscaloosa, it might be just enough to pull off the upset.
Alabama is halfway through the season, and injuries are starting to pile up on key players. Malachi Moore, who plays the “star” position, the most important position in a Nick Saban defense, injured his ankle and is currently a game-time decision. Punter James Burnip left last week’s game in the first half with a pulled muscle in his leg. Burnip is also a game-time decision, but as we saw last week, placekicker Will Reichard is an adequate replacement in his absence.
Last week, Alabama was unable to get anything going on the ground and had to revert to passing the ball. This week, Alabama should be able to generate some success on the ground against an Arkansas front that is allowing 196 rushing yards per game. Sack yardage was a part of the lack of rushing yards, but Alabama running backs were not having success at all. This is the perfect spot to gain some confidence for the offensive line and control the game on the ground.
Defending the Run
Last year, Arkansas running back Rocket Sanders had a good bit of success against the Alabama front, tallying over 100 yards on the ground. Sanders has struggled some this season, mainly due to missing three games with a knee injury. When healthy, Sanders is a big, bruising back that can punish opposing defenses. Alabama will also need to contain Arkansas’ quarterback KJ Jefferson. Jefferson hasn’t been as dynamic with his legs so far this year, but the big-bodied quarterback is always a threat to tuck it and run.
Alabama will host Arkansas at Bryant-Denny Stadium for homecoming at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.
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