David Rader, Alabama's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, thinks that Bama has gotten "a little better each week" in the three games played thus far. Now, he says, "We need to improve more this week."
Alabama is preparing to face Arkansas on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama is 3-0, including 1-0 in Southeastern Conference games. The Razorbacks are 1-2, including 0-1 in the SEC (home loss to Vanderbilt) and a 70-17 thrashing at the hands of number one ranked Southern Cal last week.
Another trend that Rader is sure of is "Arkansas won't have another game like that. They played against a good team having a very good game, and Arkansas did not have a good game. If we focus on that, we'll be in trouble. Arkansas won't have another bad game."
He said, "All of us who play football know you can have a bad game. And our guys understand that a team can have a bad game and then come back with a very good game."
Rader added, "Our guys have a lot of respect for Arkansas. They have been strong against us the last two years."
There's something of another long-standing trend Rader has noticed. "Every team that comes into Bryant-Denny Stadium is fired up to play Alabama," he said. "We don't ever catch anyone flat."
Rare is the football coach who doesn't see something very, very good in the upcoming opponent, and Rader is no exception. "Arkansas is the fastest team we will have played," he said. And, he said, "Arkansas has the two best defensive tackles we will have played against."
Actually, that's not just coachspeak. Arkansas is fast on defense and does have good defensive players, the 70 points surrendered to USC notwithstanding.
Additionally, Rader is being honest when he says, "In no way–by no stretch of the imagination–have we arrived."
He will probably agree Bama has arrived offensively if the Crimson Tide could put together both facets of the offense in the same game. "Against Southern Miss we had 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing," Rader said. "Against South Carolina we had 300 yards rushing and 100 yards passing. I'd like to see us get 300 yards rushing and 300 yards passing in the same game."
(Bama actually did a little better than Rader said in the last two games with 470 total yards against Southern Miss and 489 against South Carolina.)
Rader said he doesn't know if Alabama has played a good team yet. He asked and answered another question. "Have we played as well as we can offensively? No. But our guys should have confidence that we can run the ball and that we can pass the ball."
He said, "If we don't have a good day offensively against Arkansas, it will be a long day for us. We have some play-makers, and we have to get the ball to them."
Rader was pleased to see Alabama's offensive line have a good game against South Carolina. "It was good to see Brodie have a pocket," Rader said. He added that the Tide's offensive line will get a big challenge from Arkansas. New Defensive Coordinator for the Razorbacks is Reggie Herring, who has a reputation for an excellent blitz package. "It's apparent that Coach Herring knows his system and knows his personnel," Rader said. "They have really good speed. It seems they have the players for what they want to do defensively."