Alabama OL knows it can't take plays off

Despite last week's win, Alabama's offensive line lacked communication and played sloppy. This week they've made adjustments and tweaked their mindset in preparation for the start of SEC play.

They've been called the best offensive line in the country, but Alabama's front five didn't play like it last week.

Quarterback A.J. McCarron paid for it, getting sacked six times by Western Kentucky, and the running game did, too, racking up a meek total of 103 yards on 3.3 yards per carry.

Neither head coach Nick Saban nor his players were all-too happy last week despite shutting out Western Kentucky 35-0, but no player seemed more visibly frustrated that center Barrett Jones, who said that the team has learned a lot from that game.

"When we don't give it our best week of preparation, then I guess we can be beaten and hopefully we learned a lesson and I think we're preparing really hard this week and we're approaching the game the right way," Jones said. "I like all the signs I'm seeing, from the O-line especially."

As Saban pointed out the Wednesday before playing WKU, his team was not focused on its Sun Belt opponent and although a win is a win, the team's performance suffered due to some cockiness.

But this Saturday Alabama faces Arkansas and although the previously Top 10 Razorbacks lost a shocker to Louisiana-Monroe last week, the Tide have had a different mindset heading into their first SEC matchup.

"It's a new week and a new preparation," Saban said. "I think we run the ball effectively, which is kind of our M.O., our sort of image as a team. We tried to work on improvement in the passing game, knowing the importance of having that balance down the road.

"I think everyone buys into what we're trying to accomplish there. That's an area we definitely need to keep improving in, but the offensive line's done a good job this week."

Left guard Chance Warmack explained one of the biggest issues in last week's game was lack of communication and sloppy technique, which are things the offensive line has cleaned up this week.

"Sometimes, depending on who you play, you sometimes think you can take plays off and you can't do that," he said. "You have to play every play like you're playing a high opponent. Those guys were really good. Some plays, we didn't execute."

In its 34-31 overtime win over Arkansas, ULM attacked the Razorbacks' defense, putting up 550 yards of total offense, 412 of which were in the air. Alabama has studied up and hopes to exploit that secondary as well.

The line will have to be on its A-game for Alabama's offense to do those things.

"Western Kentucky was a very good defense and Arkansas is a very good defense," Warmack said. "We have to prepare for Arkansas just like we needed to prepare for Western Kentucky."

Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (2-0) vs. Arkansas (1-1), 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS.

On the line: Despite being majorly upset by ULM last week, Arkansas has a chance to make a statement and get back in the rankings by taking down mighty Alabama at home. A win for Tide and its business as usual and another reason for the voters to keep them in the top spot, but a win for Arkansas changes the dynamic of the SEC and the national polls.

When Alabama has the ball…expect McCarron to exploit the Razorbacks' secondary like the War Hawks did for 412 yards and three touchdowns last week. Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Dee Hart and Kenyan Drake will all get carries, but the passing attack could be more prevalent.

When Arkansas has the ball…expect the Razorbacks to get running back Knile Davis going with Tyler Wilson out at quarterback. Though Arkansas' young backups Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell have been working in the same offensive system as Wilson, their inexperience won't bode well against Alabama's defense that has forced seven turnovers in its first two games. Keep an eye on playmakers like tight end Chris Gragg and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton to try and bail the young QBs out.

Prediction: It doesn't matter to Alabama who lines up under center, as it plans to smother Arkansas with or without Wilson. If he were healthy and playing, it would be a different story and probably a more competitive game, but without him, expect to see Alabama pummel its third opponent in as many weeks.

Alabama 31, Arkansas 14


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