Happy Friday, everyone. It’s homecoming in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama’s opponent comes limping into town off of a blowout loss to a mediocre South Carolina squad and sporting a winless conference record plus an injured quarterback, set to face a juggernaut that will be looking for some redemption after failing to properly finish its last game.
This one is going to get ugly, folks:
Marq Burnett: Alabama 41, Arkansas 6
The worst thing that could have happened for Arkansas is having Alabama struggle against Texas A&M. With that game out of the way, Alabama should be highly motivated to prove a point this Saturday.
Look for Alabama to put on a show for homecoming and put a spanking on the Hogs.
Alabama has its own version of a three-headed rushing attack with quarterback Jalen Hurts and running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough. In a 49-30 Tide win last year, Alabama rushed for 264 yards against the Hogs, led by Harris’ 122 yards on 13 carries. Hurts was the back-breaker, rushing just eight times for 20 yards but scoring twice. Florida State could not stop the Tide ground game, nor could A&M. Neither will the Hogs.
The last Arkansas win over Alabama came during the George W. Bush administration in 2006. The drought continues.
Prediction: Alabama 48, Arkansas 17
Given the opponent, don’t be surprised if Alabama and Hurts come out of the gate attacking the Razorbacks secondary early and often, which could allow Ridley to get going after three straight games without a touchdown. This is be another game where Arkansas will try to stuff the run, which could allow Hurts to scramble for a couple of big gains on the ground, leading to a more wide open passing game. Alabama 45, Arkansas 10.
While both Allen and Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema are optimistic the redshirt senior signal caller will be able to face the Crimson Tide this weekend in Bryant-Denny Stadium, Nick Saban and company have looked at what Kelley has done in limited reps.
“We have to prepare for some things that they could do with him, but we can’t really change because we don’t really know,” Saban said. “We’d be defending a ghost if we tried to figure it out. We can’t really figure it out. We may have to adapt in the game. But it wouldn’t be unusual, most times for us, whoever we play does something a little bit different for us. It wouldn’t be unexpected if it happened this week.”
I don’t think I’ve seen a single analyst pick Arkansas to cover a 28-point spread that is simply absurd for a division game. Even the Arkansas SB Nation site has it at 49-7. There’s really no reason to make predictions this week, folks. It’s possible that Alabama’s third string gives up a TD or two late, but this Arkansas team doesn’t seem to have much will to compete.
“I think that’s one of the things that we really, really appreciate here,” Saban said.
“Dr. (James) Andrews, Dr. (Lyle) Cain, Jeff Allen, our entire medical staff. I don’t think there’s a better medical staff anywhere in the country. And I think that this is something that players, when they choose to go to a school, should really take into consideration because our doctors operate on almost every NFL player, Major League Baseball players. All kinds of people come to them from all over the country because they’re so expert.
Also appreciated: the seemingly unlimited supply of deer antler spray.
But there are nagging questions: Is Hurts better than he was as a freshman? And more importantly, has he improved enough as a passer to overcome the late-season slide that culminated in a last-second loss to Clemson in the national championship? On the one hand, he has executed the offense beautifully. On the other hand, he’s ranked 96th nationally in passing yards per game and ranks 13th out of 14 SEC quarterbacks in the average distance of his passes (air yards).
That pretty well sums it up. On the whole, Alex’s take is similar to that of Seth Galina in the offseason: for the most part, Jalen is what he is. He will likely never be an elite passer, but he changes games with his legs and is playing efficient ball without turning the ball over, which we all know that Saban values above all else. Whether the Tide run into a team with defense capable of shutting down the run game plus an offense that can reasonably dent the scoreboard against this defense is yet to be determined.
Swinney will be in attendance Saturday night in Tuscaloosa when the Crimson Tide hosts Arkansas, along with many of his teammates from the 1992 Alabama national championship team that topped Miami in the Sugar Bowl, a Clemson spokesman confirmed to AL.com.
A Pelham, Alabama-native who was born in Birmingham, Swinney walked on at Alabama and caught four passes for 48 yards during the 1992 season.
Hard to believe that the 1992 season was 25 years ago. Hopefully Dabo gets as warm a reception as all of the other members of that squad.
Last but not least, basketball season kicks off in less than a month:
Collin Sexton slow-mo dunk. The first of many this year, I'm sure. pic.twitter.com/mfyc8aQoYY— Alex Scarborough (@AlexS_ESPN) October 12, 2017
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.