Tide Hosts Arkansas In SEC Opener

In 2009, freshman tailback Trent Richardson carried the ball 11 times against North Texas in the Crimson Tide's third game of the season at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The next week in Tuscaloosa, Richardson and his Alabama teammates hosted Arkansas, and Richardson had his first highlight film run. Two years later, Richardson had 11 rushes against North Texas in a tune-up for the Razorbacks.

Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Arkansas in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both teams are 3-0. Kickoff Saturday will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS.

In 2009, Alabama started on its way to a 35-7 win over Arkansas with Trent Richardson getting the first score on a 52-yard run. Richardson was credited with breaking five tackles (though some of them were Auburn-type tackle attempts) en route to the end zone.

That 2009 Alabama team went on to an undefeated team and the national championship.

Thus far, Bama has not really looked like a national championship team, but has looked about as good as any other team in the country in getting through the early games. Bama, like most of the big boys of college football, feasts primarily on low hanging fruit to get started. This year the Tide has disposed of Kent State by 48-7, Penn State by 27-11, and North Texas State by 41-0.

In the win over North Texas Saturday night, Richardson had 11 carries for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He was not touched on any of his touchdown runs, not even a four-yard walk-in against a goal line defense. His others were of the long distance variety, 58 and 71 yards.

Richardson knows the drill. Meeting with reporters after the game, he gave credit to the offensive line. "It always feels good to run behind the offensive line like that," he said. "To break free in Bryant-Denny is always a good feeling."

Center William Vlachos said, "To score 41 points on somebody and to come out with a big win, you are always happy about it. The biggest thing I think we proved tonight is when everybody does his job right, we score and it is beautiful. There were a couple of drives where we scored on the first play with long runs by the running backs, so a lot of credit goes to them but it just goes to show what Coach Saban always says, ‘You have got to pay attention to detail, and do the little things right.' When we do that, we have success, and when we don't do that, we don't have success."

Vlachos, who missed much of the game and who was wearing a medical boot on his right foot, said this week's SEC opener against Arkansas "is huge. We know how good they are. Everybody remembers the battle they gave us last year at their place. We are expecting them to be even better and coming with it. We will watch film this week, and go out there and get better."

Even though the Bama defense had a shutout against North Texas, defensive end Damion Square said, "We have some things we need to work on. We have to get stronger in some aspects. You have to get stronger in all aspects playing football. You make mistakes and then make them right so you can get better in SEC play. We have to get stronger and be consistent."

Alabama Coach Nick Saban doesn't buy a team being flat for a so-called cupcake like North Texas and then ramping it up when SEC play begins.

"I don't think the level of play should change," he said. "If you're playing to be the best you can be, does who you're playing determine how you play? That's not how we coach. That's not how we try to get our players to make commitment to a standard of excellence.

"Now obviously Arkansas has a very good team, so we're going to have to execute a lot better, but your effort, your mental and physical toughness, all those things should be at the same level all the time if you're playing the way you're supposed to play to be to the best kind of player you can be."

He pointed to a lack of execution at times against North Texas and said, "We need to get those things corrected because we're going to play a lot better football teams than what we've played to this point."

Arkansas isn't exactly coming in on a high. The Razorbacks went out to a 24-0 lead on Troy, then held on to win 38-28, in part because the Trojans came out with zero points on two trips into the Red Zone. But Troy amassed 457 yards on 83 snaps. The Trojans attempted 63 passes and Arkansas had only one sack and only one interception.

Arkansas Defensive Coordinator Willy Robinson said, "We gave up too many long plays. Somewhere along the line, we have to get some pressure."

On the other side, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said the Hogs had trouble with the Troy pass rush. "They were bringing it from everywhere and we weren't executing. We've got to clean that up. I imagine we're going to see a lot of that."

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