Tide Head Coach Mike Shula commented. "They're playing maybe as well as anybody in the country. They're talented and well coached, all the things you'd expect from an Arkansas team, from an SEC team."
Alabama previously defeated Kentucky, but for the second straight year Arkansas opens SEC play versus the Tide. The Razorbacks enter the game with a 3-0 record, looking to go 4-0 for the first time since 1998. Arkansas enters the game ranked ninth in the nation.
Coming off a tough loss to Northern Illinois, the Tide faces a tough task. "We'll have to regroup and play with confidence," Shula said. "Not worry about making mistakes but each guy playing their best game."
Last week NIU's Michael Turner ran for 156 yards against Alabama, and things won't get any easier. The Razorbacks' Cedric Cobbs is bigger and faster than Turner, and he arrives in Tuscaloosa on a roll.
Cobbs has rushed for 100 yards or more three times so far this season. Cobbs opened the season with 145 yards versus Tulsa and followed that with 115 yards against the Longhorns. Last week Cobbs put up 104 yards on North Texas, pushing his season total to 364.
Prior to last week the Tide defense had been tough against the run. "It's a concern," Shula said of preparing for Cobbs, "but we're not going to panic about it. We have got to worry about ourselves first. Get ourselves better. Build on the good and correct the things that need correcting. And we've got to do it in a hurry."
The Razorbacks lead the Southeastern Conference in rushing, averaging 234 yards per game. "Arkansas will run the football," Shula said. "They've got great backs. That's what you expect when you play Arkansas."
Razorback quarterback Matt Jones has always been a threat running the football, but in the past his arm has been erratic. Against Texas he showed good accuracy, throwing for 139 yards. In his career at Arkansas Jones has scored 12 touchdowns on the ground, including a 53-yard scamper against Tulsa this year.
"He's dangerous," Shula said of the Arkansas quarterback. "I've been watching him for a couple of years. His athleticism makes it difficult for a defense. He's an added dimension. You've got to prepare for him. You can't simulate the look (in practice), because he's such a great athlete.
"(Jones) will be our focal point (in practice) this week."
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