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Alabama vs. Arkansas Preview: When Alabama has the ball

How will Mac Jones look against the Hogs defense?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The Arkansas defense ranks 87th in the country in total defense, allowing 412.9 yards per game and giving up 30.7 points per game. They are allowing 220 passing yards per game, 192.9 rushing yards per game, and 5.95 yards per play. The Hogs success rate on defense comes in at #82 in the country, which is definitely below the national average. The 2019 Arkansas defense is pretty similar to last year’s Razorback defense by the numbers— in other words... Bad.

John Chavis, a name that virtually everyone in the SEC is familiar with, is in his second season as the defensive coordinator for the Hogs. Chavis typically runs a base 4-3 defense with an endless barrage of blitzes. Chavis has consistently been one of the top defensive coordinators in the SEC and is working on getting the Hogs to play up to his standard level.

The Arkansas linebackers are manned by De’Jon “Scoota” Harris, Bumper Pool, and Grant Morgan. Harris, a senior, was a second team All-SEC linebacker last season. So far this season, he leads the Hogs with 54 total tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries. He returned one of those fumbles for a touchdown. Bumper Pool, a guy whose name deserves to be in the hall of fame of names, is a sophomore who saw a lot of playing time last season. So far this season, he has 49 total tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 3 pass deflections. Grant Morgan, a junior who saw the field a lot last season, has 23 total tackles and 1 sack.

The defensive backs for the Razorbacks are junior safety Kamren Curl, sophomore safety Joe Foucha, sophomore corner Montaric Brown, and sophomore corner Jarques McClellion. Kamren Curl has been a starter for the Hogs since his freshman year and has the most experience of the Arkansas secondary. This season, he has 52 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown. Joe Foucha has 43 total tackles, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery this year. Montaric Brown has 19 total tackles, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery. Jarques McClellion has 20 total tackles and 1 interception.

The Arkansas defensive line is led by seniors Gabe Richarson and McTelvin Agim. Gabe Richardson has 26 total tackles and 2.5 sacks this season at defensive end. McTelvin Agim has started almost every game since his freshman year on the Razorback defense, and is widely considered the best and most consistent player for them. So far this season, he has 22 total tackles, 5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble at defensive tackle for the Hogs.

The Matchup:

Alabama has one of the best offenses in the country and Arkansas does not have the greatest defense. The offensive success rate for the Tide is 54.49% which ranks #4 in the country. As I said before, the defensive success rate for Arkansas is...not great.

With Tua being out for this game with an ankle injury, we can throw a lot of the offensive numbers out the window. Sure, Alabama should beat the Hogs pretty handedly with or without Tua. But the main question is how will Mac Jones play? Will it be the Mac Jones that played well in the A-day game? Or will it be the Mac Jones that played against Tennessee last week?

In any case, the Arkansas pass defense is one of the worst in the country at giving up successful passing plays, so Jones is walking into a good game to break in his chops as a new starting QB. And if things go awry for him, Alabama can lean into their #2 ranked rushing offense by success rate.

ESPN’s football power index gives Alabama a 98.9% chance of defeating the Hogs in Alabama’s homecoming game.