Building upon last year's victory against the Tide, the Razorbacks went on to enjoy a 10-4 record, and a Capital One Bowl loss to Wisconsin. This year, Arkansas returns a team with the most potent rushing attack in the nation. No doubt, Alabama's defense will certainly have their work cut out for them when it's time to stop McFadden, Jones and Smith.
They always say, whoever has the better defense has the better chance to win, so who does have the most potent defense come Saturday, Alabama or Arkansas?
Upfront, both teams will play physical with Arkansas taking the nod. Alabama is still without starting nose guard Brian Motley, who suffered a broken ankle before the Western Carolina game. Lorenzo Washington will make his third start Saturday, and is accompanied by Wallace Gilberry and Bobby Greenwood, both returners to the line.
Arkansas has the luxury of four linemen upfront with senior Chris Wade, Malcolm Sheppard, Ernest Mitchell, and Adrian Davis supplying the pressure. It's going to be tough stopping those four, and if you look at the fact that Alabama is going to face the No.1 rushing offense in the nation, you'll begin to realize just how tough a time Washington, Gilberry, and Greenwood are going to have. Arkansas has the better of the two here.
Moving on to the linebackers and you'll find Alabama will have a relatively young, fast, and dangerous set of guys. Led by seniors Keith Saunders and Darren Mustin, the Tide will be quick to react to the Razorbacks rushing attack and any short flicks by quarterback Casey Dick.
If you look at Rolando McClain and Ezekial Knight, you see two young guys with a lot to prove, especially in the Vanderbilt game last week, both those guys are slowly making a name for themselves.
The Razorbacks bring three linebackers with freshman Ryan Powers, senior Weston Dacus, and sophomore Freddie Fairchild. They are a talented set of guys, but they won't be able to give Alabama a run for their money when it gets down to speed. Speed kills, and the Crimson Tide linebackers have it. Alabama gets the tip here, with raw speed and presence.
At the safety position, Arkansas brings seniors Matt Hewitt and Michael Grant, while the Tide has the duo of Rashad Johnson and Marcus Carter to press wide receivers. If it were to come down to this position it would be a coin toss, with Arkansas' experience and Alabama's poise to decide on. For argument's sake, Arkansas takes the lead in this category by a hair, with experience leading the way.
Finishing at the corners, Alabama wins because of senior Simeon Castille and junior Lionel Mitchell. Castille just plays awesome defense. Anybody who watched the Vanderbilt game on Saturday would see that. He shut down Earl Bennett the stud wide-out for the Commodores.
With top wide-out Marcus Monk out Saturday for the Razorbacks, expect the Tide to attempt to shut down Arkansas' passing attack even though that's not a strength for them. Arkansas will have senior Matterral Richardson and sophomore Jerell Norton playing at the corners. With the Tide's arsenal of wide-outs to throw to, expect them to have a tough day defending the attack. With that in mind Alabama has the better cornerbacks come Saturday.
With that being said, Alabama beats Arkansas in two categories, with superior corners and linebackers. However, Arkansas also came out on top at the line and with the safeties. Both teams tied, but the test is on the Alabama defense, with less experienced set of guys this year, it will be interesting to see how they fair against the top rushing team in the nation.
The Arkansas defense most likely won't be the deciding factor on Saturday, with that going to Alabama's rush defense. Is Alabama's line up to the challenge? Most pundits say that the Crimson Tide defensive line won't be able to stand up to Arkansas' rushing attack. We'll see on Saturday.
The Tide has a tough three game stretch on the horizon. If the Tide can come out undefeated, expect another Sports Illustrated cover in the near future for John Parker and company.
It should be good ol' trench game Saturday afternoon, and Alabama might have this one in the books before the final whistle blows in front of a national audience.
Who has the Better Defense?
However, Arkansas is in Tuscaloosa this year, and with a new head coach in Nick Saban it will be a treat to watch these two SEC foes battle it out in both's first real test of the season on Saturday.
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