Best Offense Bama Has Seen

Alabama Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said last week that Steve Spurrier was one of the best offensive minds in America, but that didn't at all mean that South Carolina had a better offensive team than Arkansas will have on Saturday when the come to Bryant-Denny Stadium to play Alabama at 11:30 a.m. In fact, it's quite to the contrary according to Kines.

"They've got as fine an offensive football team as we've played to date," Kines said Tuesday at Alabama's weekly news conference.

It didn't take Kines long to figure out what Arkansas likes to do on offense, and what the challenge for his defense will be.

"The offensive line is by far the biggest and the strongest we play. They come out on that power play and kick you out and you can feel the earth shake just watching it on tape."

Kines is a master of hyperbole, but Arkansas' rushing numbers back him up. Arkansas leads the league in rushing at 291.3 yards per game. That's nearly 60 per game better than second place Georgia (232.7 ypg).

Arkansas uses a four-back attack to pile up so many rushing yards. De'Arrius Howard is the workhorse, with 42 carries for 263 net yards. Felix Jones is the big-play threat. he has had 31 carries averaging an incredible 9.6 yards per carry with an 80-yard long.

Peyton Hillis is the best receiver out of the backfield and has 37 rush attempts for 202 yards also. Freshman Darren McFadden has 23 attempts for 193 yards in three games. He is averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

"They use them a little different," Kines said. "They run the power game with them and they throw to them out of the backfield. Hillis has caught a lot of balls on the play action passes into the flat. They do a great job with the misdirection."

As a unit, the Hogs have average six yards per carry in their first three games.

"It looks like it's about 14 to me. They look like they're gashing folks," Kines said. "If it's six it's because they fell down some."

Kines said Arkansas maintains success by mixing personnel groupings, including using two tailbacks in the backfield at the same time.

"They've got a lot of weapons," he said. "They average 438 yards total offense a game. It's more than you can say grace over."

Arkansas is the league cellar dweller in passing offense, but they do have 6-6 receiver Marcus Monk, who leads the squad with 14 catches. Someone commented that it seems like everyone has a 6-5 or taller receiver these days.

"I know, isn't that the truth," Kines said. "They've got a stretcher it seems like. Before the game we'll go out there and look. They're all up there about like skyscrapers. Monk's a good receiver and they get the ball to the corner of the end zone extremely well in the red area. He's a fine receiver."

Kines sees the biggest passing threat Arkansas can pose coming off of play action. Robert Johnson has started all three games for the Hogs completing 56 percent (37-of-66, 4 TDs, 3 INTs) for 383 yards. Sophomore Alex Mortensen has also seen action, completing 5-of-13 passes for 58 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

"You can't afford to load up on (the run) too much," Kines said. "They do a great job with the play-action pass and getting that quarterback on the cornerback out the corner so he can stretch the contain. They present a lot of problems."

"Johnson can maybe get on the corner a little quicker and may be more experienced but I don't see them having two different game plans based on who's in the game."

Saturday's game will be the first time the Alabama defense has faced a team where the quarterback is not the focal point of the offense.

"We have tried each game to do what we have to do to win that particular game," Kines said. "Last week we spent every waking minute we could on the throwing game. This week you've got to find a way to get an extra man on the run and not give up on the play action pass. If they'd hold a red sign up over there and tell you if they were going to run or pass it'd be easier, but nobody's done that yet."


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