Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Potent Pigs: Arkansas/Alabama

On Saturday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

For both the Razorbacks and Crimson Tide, the contest on Saturday will mark the first SEC showdown of the season.

Thus far in 2011, Alabama has rolled through the likes of Kent State, Penn State, and North Texas, while Arkansas has feasted on cupcakes such as Missouri State, New Mexico, and Troy.

Needless to say, the real season, for both teams…will begin Saturday.

Air Hog

Under head coach Bobby Petrino, the Arkansas passing attack has become a thing of legend.

Due in large part to former Hog quarterback Ryan Mallett, the Razorback aerial assault is to be appreciated…and feared.

While Mallett is now just a memory, the “gunslinger” style has continued in the person of Tyler Wilson.

Wilson, known to many as the young man who relieved Mallett in the Auburn game last season, is a very impressive passer and has displayed his own “magic” in an Arkansas uniform.

In three games, all be it against less than stellar competition, Wilson has thrown for 822 yards including five touchdowns.

As he enters the contest with Alabama, Wilson currently has a 68 percent completion rate.

Look for the Alabama defense to prey on the Arkansas quarterback from both a mental and physical standpoint.

The creation of “mass confusion” worked for Alabama in 2009 when Arkansas invaded Bryant-Denny. One can expect a similar defensive game plan on Saturday.

Catch the Pigskin

Another staple of the Bobby Petrino era has been the plethora of fantastic receivers available to the quarterback.

The Razorbacks, once again, have several talented wide receivers that will give the Alabama secondary fits all afternoon.

When you look at the list below, it is easy to see why quarterback pressure and defensive disruption will be vital against Arkansas.

The last thing the Alabama defense wants to see is a “calm and collected” Tyler Wilson throwing the football to one of the best receiving corps in the nation.

It only took the Hogs less than a minute to strike first against the Crimson Tide in 2010 as Ryan Mallett found Ronnie Wingo on a 43-yard connection.

Great receivers coupled with a defensive “bust” can lead to bad things in a hurry.

**Click on the chart if resolution is not adequate.**

Ground Hog

The Arkansas rushing attack suffered a severe blow in August when Knile Davis went down with a season ending injury.

In 2010, Davis rushed for 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns...both of which led the SEC.

Although one could easily make the case that Davis was/is irreplaceable, Arkansas is still very formidable at the running back position.

Thus far in 2011, the Hogs have been led by Ronnie Wingo.

Wingo currently leads the team in rushing by a considerable margin with 225 yards over the course of the first three games.

Arkansas has used, and will continue to use, various backs over the course of the season, but Wingo is the “featured back” in the Arkansas ground attack.

The Arkansas offense is predicated on the pass, but the Hog ground game seems to get better with each season.

**Click on the chart if resolution is not adequate.**

Tender Pork

The Arkansas defense is much improved, but the Hogs have made it a point to “mask” their deficient defense with a high-octane offense.

The truth of the matter is, like the Auburn Tigers, the Arkansas Razorbacks are in the business of putting points on the board…not preventing points.

The Razorback defense will never be confused for an “iron curtain," but the Hogs do have leadership on the defensive side of the ball which does go a long way.

As for the game plan against the Alabama offense, look for Arkansas to "stack the box" and pressure A.J. McCarron at each and every turn.

Arkansas will look to stop the Alabama ground game and force McCarron to be the deciding factor.

Arkansas/Alabama Verdict

Defense! The verdict is defense!

Can the Hogs score more than 14-points against Alabama?

An Alabama team who currently ranks third in the nation in total defense...

An Alabama team who only allows six points per contest...

At the end of an afternoon of push and pull, expect the better overall team to have the better overall score.

Once the media "Pomp and Circumstance" has come to an end, the Crimson Tide will improve to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC.

Alabama 27
Arkansas 13

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