Alabama head coach Nick Saban made it very clear on Monday that he was disappointed Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was injured and might miss Saturday's game in Fayetteville.
Some might question that since Saban's top-ranked team will be facing a much more experienced quarterback named Brandon – be it Allen or Mitchell – but he seemed sincere.
"Tyler Wilson's a great player," Saban said at his weekly press conference. You don't like to really ever see anybody get injured. He's great for our league and he's great for our fans. He's certainly a very challenging competitor to have to play against, and we hope he's OK. Whoever plays, we're going to have to do a good job of executing and do our job. It really doesn't matter what happened last week. I'm sure we're going to get their best game."
Alabama jumped from a six-point favorite after Arkansas' 31-28 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe to either a 14-point one if Wilson plays or a 19-point one if he doesn't.
"Nobody here should be feeling warm and cozy about the other team's circumstance or situation," Saban said. "We need to be thinking about what we need to do to be successful, regardless of who plays in the game. Whoever prepares to play in their system is probably going to be a pretty effective player that we're going to have to do things correctly to be able to stop."
Saban knows what losing to Louisiana-Monroe at home feels like as his first Alabama team lost to the Warhawks in Tuscaloosa back in 2007.
Arkansas led 28-7 in the third quarter before watching the visitors storm back for the shocking win.
"They had a very difficult misfortune in the last game that they weren't able to overcome," Saban said. "But we still have to expect that we're going to get their very best performance. It's going to take our best performance to have a chance to be successful."
Alabama hammered Michigan 41-14 in its opener at Cowboys Stadium, but wasn't as sharp in a 35-0 win over Western Kentucky at home last Saturday.
"This was not our best game," Saban said. "It was a little predictable that when you don't focus and pay attention to detail like you need to, whether it's in preparation or actually in your performance, that things don't usually go as well as you'd like for them to. I think we probably learned something about that relative to the last game."
The Crimson Tide gave up six sacks in the win and that pass protection did not please the head coach.
"Most of the time when you get beat, is it what the other guy did? Or is it what you did?," Saban said. "A lot of times we didn't play very well fundamentally. We didn't set properly, we didn't look at the right things, we didn't pay attention to detail. You get a little bit behind in the down because the guy beat you or you're not doing it the right way, you don't give yourself the best chance to be successful.
"On several occasions, that's what happened," Saban added. "It's something that we've got to get corrected. Our guys have to pay attention to detail, focus on doing the little things right. We don't get re-dos. When the quarterback gets hit, that's not ever good. We just need to do a better job in that regard all the way around."
Alabama practiced on Monday without H-back/fullback Jalston Folwer, who is out for the season after suffering a knee injury per the Crimson Tide scout.com site.
But Alabama did see a return of nose guard Jesse Williams (concussion), cornerback Dee Millner (hip flexor) and linebackers Reggie Ragland (ankle) and Brent Calloway (shoulder).
Saban has two former assistants of Arkansas head coach John L. Smith on his staff in offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who both coached under Smith at Michigan State.
Nussmeier was also a quarterback at Idaho for Smith, but Saban doesn't think that means anything since Arkansas is still running Bobby Petrino's offense and new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes' defense.
"I think that John L. is a very, very good coach," Saban said. "But the systems that they're running there are certainly totally congruent with the offense they ran last year, which was Coach Petrino's. And the defensive coordinator comes from Ohio State, and they're doing the same kind of stuff they did at Ohio State.
"If John L. was calling the plays or running the defense or something like that, that may be something that would be beneficial," Saban added. "We're just trying to look at what they do and do the best job we can getting our players in the best position to have a chance to be successful."
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