There are no guarantees going forward that Alabama won’t run up a team that is better than the undefeated No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide, but as of now Bama Coach Nick Saban has given a clue as the team to watch out for in an Alabama loss.
“I think the question that I would ask is, ‘How much did the other team really stop us, and how much did we stop ourselves?’”
Although he was referring to last week’s 34-6 win over Kentucky, he pointed to things that can derail a football team. He listed “a dropped ball, a missed assignment, not getting the ball out of our hand when we need to, get enough play on defense, whether it's not the right run fit or gap fit or whatever. These kind of execution things, I think, are really, really important, especially when the whole emphasis needs to be we need to play better over and over again, especially when you play better teams.
“I think we had some outstanding performances in the (Kentucky) game. I think our team is making progress, but I think we need to continue to do that and continue to work because every week in the SEC you've got a real challenge and a real test and that certainly won't be any different playing on the road this weekend against Arkansas, which I think has a really, really good team.”
Alabama (5-0, 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference) takes on the Razorbacks (4-1, 0-1) at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday in Fayetteville. ESPN will televise the game.
Saban said that he didn’t have “a lot of different feelings about the last game in terms of how we played after watching the film. I think a lot better in the second half than in the first.”
The Tide coach sees a difficult opponent in Arkansas, which is ranked 16th in the nation.
“The quarterback is playing great for them, Saban said. They're very well coached. Got some really good skill players, wide receivers, a couple of good running backs. They've got eight starters back on defense and they're playing really well on defense. The punter's done a great job for them all year long. This is a really strong opponent who's only lost one game this year and certainly has shown an ability to finish games and win close games.”
The one loss was by 45-24 to Texas A&M two weeks ago in Arlington. The close wins were by 21-20 over Louisiana Tech in the opener and a double overtime 41-38 win at TCU.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has gotten the attention of Saban. The Bama coach said, “He’s a very good athlete. But I’ve been very, very impressed with his decision making, his judgment and his ability to make – he’s got a really good arm – and he’s made a lot of throws to the field, throws down the field. Executes their offense extremely well. Does a good job of faking their play-action passes. He’s got the highest completion percentage, I think, of any quarterback in the league and probably one of the highest efficiency ratings, I would guess, as well, even though I don’t look at stats that much. He’s a very effective and efficient player.”
Allen has completed 94 of 139 passes (67.6 per cent) for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions and does lead the SEC in efficiency.
Almost everyone thinks of Arkansas as being a very physical team in both its offensive and defensive lines. Saban said the balance of the Razorbacks on offense is a key.
“They’ve run the ball for almost 200 yards a game and thrown for 200 yards a game,” Saban said. “I don't think they're one-dimensional at all. I think they're a very physical team and they're going to run the ball and they're going to run it downhill, and they've got good backs and a good offensive line to do that.
“They've got great play-action passes that go with their running game. They've made a lot of explosive plays with their skill players. I think it's a combination of those two things that really will challenge the defense, not only up front but also in the secondary.”