"Arkansas has some really good wide receivers out there," said junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower. "They have a really good quarterback. Those are the things they are going to try and use. They have offensive weapons, so obviously they are going to use them. They are real big on the passing game, so obviously our pass rush is going to have to be on point this week."
A year earlier, the confidence wasn't there for Arkansas when it lost 35-7 in Tuscaloosa. "Even though we were hyped up and acting like we were emotionally ready to play and excited about the opportunity, I think deep down we didn't think we would win the game," Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino said. "You see a lot of people do the same thing against Alabama. You don't execute and do the same things that you normally do. You drop passes. You overthrow a guy wide open. You trip on a line. You're out of your comfort zone, and you don't play football the way you can."
"He’s taking too many hits right now," running back Ronnie Wingo said. "We’ve just got to protect him, protect him more this week." Arkansas has allowed Wilson to be sacked six times and that total doesn’t include the hits sustained when he’s been on the run, like the helmet-to-helmet hit that left him with "concussion-like" symptoms in Week 2.
Dee Milliner, a sophomore who plays cornerback in Alabama's nickel and dime defenses, missed practice Monday because he was sick. Junior safety Robert Lester (back spasms) participated in practice, as did backup right tackle Arie Kouandjio, who did not dress for the North Texas game, and "nicked up" senior inside linebacker Chris Jordan, who has yet to play this season. "We expect everybody to be full strength and ready to go tomorrow, for sure," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
"They probably have the best corps of wide receivers," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "...I haven't seen all the wide receivers in the country, so it wouldn't be fair for me to say they're the best group in the country. But I guess I would like to see the group that's better than these four guys."
Petrino downplayed the notion that breaking a three-game losing streak to Nick Saban was his personal focus. "It's not a personal standpoint," Petrino said. "But for our program and for our football team, that's a win that we need. "We have not beat Alabama yet. And we certainly need to do that. More importantly, we need to start off the conference with a victory."
"What the players don’t understand is I usually raise more cain on weeks like last week (against North Texas), because the players will be all crunked up this week," Saban said Monday. "Is that the right terminology? I’m not sure I’m up with the hip hop term. Last week it’s like trying to get them in the dental chair. That’s when it is the most challenging."
A San Jose Mercury News report on Monday refuted a Sunday report that Texas was close to reaching a deal with Larry Scott that would allow conference programming on the Longhorn Network, but would not force it to become a shared regional network. Instead, the Mercury News report maintains that LHN would have to become a regional entity and the Longhorns would not be allowed any more than a 1/16th division of revenue. If true, it once again appears that the Texas administration will have to make serious concessions to gain admittance into the Pac-16, which appears to be the most viable -- and perhaps only -- conference affiliation for the Longhorns with the death of the Big 12 now certain.
The S.E.C. has few large media markets — Atlanta’s Georgia Tech is in the A.C.C., as is the University of Miami. But if it adds Texas A&M, it will be up to 15.6 million fans total, just barely behind the Big Ten (17.5 million). The enthusiasm for college football in the Southeast and a lot of mid-sized markets with decent population growth adds up to a very valuable brand — as, of course, does the exceptional quality of the product on the field. Still, the S.E.C.’s average of about 1.1 million fans per team — not counting Texas A&M — sets a slightly lower bar than the Big Ten’s. Clemson (1.8 million fans), Georgia Tech (1.7 million) or Virginia Tech would improve upon it, while Missouri and West Virginia (1.0 million) are aren’t far from the league average and would do more to expand the conference’s geographic footprint.
If I’m Notre Dame today I’m on the phone to Atlantic Coast Conference headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. because tomorrow may be too late. If I’m Notre Dame today, and I see the Big East in mid-implosion, see that the ACC has essentially left a spot for me (temporarily) and see the long-term demographic trends for the Midwest, I’m spending the afternoon having a long, soul-searching look in the independence mirror. And then I’m starting negotiations to join the ACC, not the Big Ten, my persistent local suitor and the one everyone assumes I’ll eventually marry.
In the wake of Pitt and Syracuse leaving the Big East for the ACC and both Texas and Oklahoma announcing exploration of new conference alignments, the Big 12 and Big East could be looking at a possible merger. The Associated Press is reporting that officials from both conferences have been discussing a possible merger if Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12. Other schools also have been mentioned in possible expansion, including Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
According to the NCAA, South Carolina athletes were given reduced room rates and nine athletes were given extra time to pay their rent. Athletes were given rooms that were normally rented $57 a night for extended stays of three months or more for $14.59 a night. So, instead of paying $1,710 per month like a regular tenant, South Carolina athletes were paying roughly $438 a month. Not a bad discount.
Oxford coach John Grass says standout linebacker Kwon Alexander has suffered a torn ACL and will have surgery tomorrow morning, all but ending his senior season. Alexander, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder rated as the nation’s top outside linebacker by ESPN, suffered the injury with 7:55 to play in the 10th-ranked Yellow Jackets’ 40-24 victory against Austin Friday night at Lamar Field.