DePriest Expects Smash-Mouth Football

Most people look at Arkansas and see a team that is trying to come out of the morass of last year when the Razorbacks lost Coach Bobby Petrino and were unable to make progress under John L. Smith, who served as interim coach. And they see the Hogs are 3-4 overall, including an 0-3 record in Southeastern Conference games.

Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest sees something different in preparing for Arkansas. He sees a team that under former Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema is getting tough, particularly in the running game.

"It's definitely the most physical offense that we're going to face," said DePreist, Bama's 6-2, 245-pound junior middle linebacker. "They have a real good running game. They average 250 (yards rushing) in their wins. It's definitely going to be a smash-mouth football game."

To put Arkansas's rushing into perspective, consider the Razorbacks are averaging 216 yards per game against all opponents. Alabama, which has some pretty good runners, is averaging 188 yards per game.

DePriest, who is tied for fourth on the Tide defense with 21 tackles and who has a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, said Alabama's defense will see some of the elements of Colorado State, "how they shift and motion a lot."

The Arkansas workhorses in the running game are Jonathan Williams, a 6-0, 22-pound sophomore, and Alex Collins, a 5-11, 206-pound freshman. Williams averages 6.5 yards per carry. Collins is averaging 102.9 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry.

"They're tough," said DePriest. "To me, they are the best that we've seen. They're real patient on how they run behind their blocks. They're real good at cutting it back. They're strong. When they cut back, they get hit, and they're getting yards after the hit."

DePriest noted that Collins being patient behind his blocks has impressed the Tide linebacker. "In high school, he's probably bigger and faster than everybody else." That makes his ability to play behind his blocks "and have the visiion he's got" good traits.

DePriest said this type game excites him. "That's what we pride ourselves on," he said, "being a hit-you-in-the-mouth, dominant type defense. And they pride themselves on running the ball and trying to get 300 yards on you.

"It's going to be a battle."

The battle will be in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama, 6-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC games, is ranked first in the nation. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. CDT with television coverage by ESPN.

DePriest and his teammates on the defensive side are preparing for Arkansas, but they are also trying to help the offense overcome a little problem that cropped up last week. Bama lost two fumbles that killed early drives in the Tide's 48-7 win at Kentucky.

In practice it appeared the Bama running backs were going through ball security drills against the first defense.

DePriest said that was the case. "When we go team (11 on 11, first against first), we emphasize ripping it out. They also have the scout team trying to rip it out. We don't want it to happen any more. It could cost us down the road."

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