After three non-conference games, is Alabama SEC-ready?
The Crimson Tide had games against Kent State and North Texas to experiment with different player combinations and test out some of the younger talent. A road trip to Penn State gave UA a chance to test its composure. Now the real season starts with Arkansas coming to town. More consistent play at quarterback, along the offensive line and in the kicking game will be needed to navigate the Southeastern Conference waters.
Is Arkansas road-ready?
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The Razorbacks have been good enough at home to handle Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy, but things will be tougher in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Fact is, no one knows at this point how good Arkansas can be, but the fact that the Hogs were out-gained by Troy in their last outing points to some defensive shortcomings. It remains to be seen if Arkansas can compete away from home, especially against an SEC contender with an elite defense.
Can Alabama win a shootout?
If Arkansas has its way, this will be a high-scoring affair with the offenses engaging in a game of top-this. In such a scenario, the Razorbacks would seem to have the edge with their high-octane offense. Alabama has shown an ability to be efficient on offense, but that's different than keeping pace in a score-fest. Alabama's defense should be good enough to contain the Razorbacks, but Arkansas is capable of turning the game into a track meet. UA will be better served controlling the game and the clock on the ground than in trying to swap touchdowns with Arkansas.
Where is Alabama's pass rush?
As intimidating as this Crimson Tide defense may be, UA has only four sacks so far - all of them against Kent State in the season opener. Alabama put Penn State and North Texas in passing situations the last two weeks, but never managed to produce a sack. Nick Saban says sacks aren't important, that it's all about affecting the quarterback, but what better way to affect a quarterback than tackling him behind the line of scrimmage? With Arkansas bringing a pass-heavy offense to town this week, there could be no better time for Alabama's pass rush to emerge.
They Said It: Highlights from Monday's press conference with Nick Saban and players
The arrival of the first Southeastern Conference game week for the third-ranked University of Alabama football team brought an increase in intensity to Monday's weekly press conference. Head coach Nick Saban and players discussed the Arkansas Razorbacks and last weekend's game against North Texas.
"You guys talk about all those 70-yard runs that we had, 50-yard runs. Those are the same plays that we had a 5-yard loss on. It wasn't like it was a new play. It was blocked correctly against the same defense."
- Alabama coach Nick Saban, harping on UA's execution
"I'm not aware of a T-shirt reward program at this place."
- Barrett Jones, on whether he might get a commemorative shirt for playing all five offensive line positions in his career
"A lot of people say I am a nerd because I don't talk in class, I'm just quiet to myself and trying to get my work done. But I'm not near as nerdy as Barrett."
- Running back Trent Richardson, on his studious side
"There is not much celebrating. We have high expectations for ourselves."
- Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, on how UA defenders celebrated the shutout of North Texas