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September 14, 2012

Players to Watch: Arkansas

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Kevin Norwood
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-2 Weight: 195 Class: Jr.
Key stat: Norwood is far and away Alabama's leading receiver with 145 yards and six catches in a wideout-by-committee kind of offense. He has two touchdown receptions.
Buzz: Alabama needed someone to step up at the receiver position coming into the season, and Norwood so far has been the guy to do it. He has proven himself as a deep threat and also seems to have dependable hands. He is averaging a whopping 24.2 yards per catch, so Arkansas needs to stay behind him.

Barrett Jones
Position: Center
Height: 6-5 Weight: 302 Class: Sr.
Key stat: Jones has played every position on the offensive line in a game in his career, but the defending Outland Trophy winner has settled in at center for Alabama.
Buzz: Alabama's offensive line looked like an unstoppable force against Michigan, but seemed to stop itself from getting any momentum going last weekend against Western Kentucky. Like the 'Toppers, Arkansas figures to blitz from start to finish as its best chance to get an edge against Alabama's physical front, and it will be Jones' job to call the blocks.

Dee Milliner
Position: Cornerback
Height: 6-1 Weight: 199 Class: Jr.
Key stat: Milliner intercepted a pass and broke up four others in the season opener against Michigan, but didn't play a snap last week after tweaking a hip injury in practice. He is expected to be good to go this week.
Buzz: A healthy and effective Milliner will be essential to Alabama's defense growing and progressing this season. He was an absolute game-changer against the Wolverines, and his absence may have played a part in Western Kentucky sustaining some offensive success last week. He will be tested in this game.

Arkansas Razorbacks
Knile Davis
Position: Running back
Height: 6-0 Weight: 226 Class: Jr.
Key stat: Davis ran for 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns two seasons ago, but is averaging less than four yards per carry this season and just 66 yards per game.
Buzz: Davis was brilliant in 2010, but sat out last season after ankle surgery and hasn't yet hit his stride this year. A preseason All-SEC pick, Davis is going to need to be able to keep Alabama's defense honest if the passing game is going to have a chance today. So far, he is slow getting out of the gate.

Chris Gragg
Position: Tight end
Height: 6-3 Weight: 242 Class: Sr.
Key stat: Gragg ranks second nationally among tight ends in receptions per game (7.0) and receiving yards per game (96.5).
Buzz: Gragg is one of those quick, slightly-undersized tight ends who create matchup nightmares for opponents, much like Brad Smelley did for UA last season. If Alabama contains him, it will be bad news for the Arkansas passing attack. Limiting his catches will be a difficult task, but Alabama can contain Gragg if it can tackle him on the spot after he makes the reception.

Ross Rasner
Position: Safety
Height: 6-foot Weight: 212 Class: Sr.
Key stat: Rasner has broken up three passes and intercepted another this season. He is also Arkansas' leading tackler with 20 total stops, including 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage.
Buzz: Louisana-Monroe threw no less than 68 passes against Arkansas, an indication that the Razorbacks are suspect in the secondary. Alabama has shown it has deep-strike capability, and Arkansas is going to have to choose between defending the run and limiting the long ball. Rasner is going to have to be ready for anything.


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