Red Storm Rising

Arkansas head coach John L. Smith and Alabama head coach Nick Saban used the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday to talk about Tyler Wilson's availability - Smith feeling more optimistic about his chance to play - and other issues regarding this Saturday's game in Fayetteville.

Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference that he was more optimistic now about starting quarterback Tyler Wilson being ready for top-ranked Alabama on Saturday.

But that optimism was not based on medical clearance at this point.

"I am more optimistic, but still that decision has not been made yet and it is not in my hands," Smith said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

Wilson suffered an "injury above the shoulders" during Saturday night's 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

He looked on Tuesday during practice as redshirt freshman Brandon Allen and redshirt junior Brandon Mitchell split the snaps.

"He (Wilson) was out there yesterday so maybe he will be able to get out and do some throwing and be able to go today a little bit," Smith said.

Smith said the quarterback competition would continue throughout workouts this week.

"It's going to be a battle and we expect it to continue today and maybe tomorrow," Smith said. "And who knows, maybe Tyler will be back ready to go."

Allen led a touchdown drive on his first series that ended with a 13-yard scoring pass to freshman wideout MeKale McKay that pushed the Razorbacks ahead 28-7 early in the third quarter.

But he finished just 6-of-20 passing for 85 yards with an interception as the offense floundered from that point on.

Mitchell was last season's back-up quarterback, but was moved to wideout and claimed a starting role there this season.

Alabama coach Nick Saban acknowledged that he did not know what Arkansas is going to do with the uncertainty at quarterback.

"We really don't know what to expect," Saban said. "I think Brandon Allen – for a guy that hadn't played a lot – did a pretty good job in the game. I am sure he is going to get better with a week's preparation if he does have to play in the game.

"I know they can move other players to quarterback and do different things and they could get their quarterback back," Saban added. "So there is a few unknowns for us about what might happen at that position and we just have to adjust and adapt to whatever it is we are facing."

Saban also commented on what he had seen on film of the return of Arkansas running back Knile Davis.

"We think he is a really good player and he has had some really good runs," Saban said. "I think he is very capable of having great runs. We have a tremendous amount of respect from him and their ability to run the ball if they decide to do that. We also respect the other two runners (Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo) that they do have."

Despite his team being a 20-point favorite on the road at Arkansas, Saban tried his best to stress the respect he had for the Razorbacks.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Arkansas," Saban said. "There are probably one of the best teams in our league, one of the best teams in the country. We are certainly going to have to play up to our capabilities to have a chance to be successful – especially on the road. We are looking forward to the challenge that we have and should be an exciting game."

He also talked positively about an Arkansas defense – coordinator by former Ohio State coach Paul Haynes – despite the fact that it had given up over 800 yards and 58 points to Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe.

"I think Paul Haynes is a very, very good defensive coordinator and he had a lot of success at Ohio State," Saban said. "He has a good sound scheme. I think a lot of things happened in last week's game to contribute to a lot of other things that maybe didn't go the way Arkansas would have liked for them to.

"But we have a lot of respect for their defense, for their scheme, for their players," Saban added. "We know that we are going to get a very physical team that is going to play hard and do a good job of executing what they do and we are going to have to do a good job of executing what we do to have any success against them."

Smith noted that it was crucial for his team mentally to have a great week of practice in terms of energy and he saw that on Tuesday.

"Everybody has a tendency to drop their chin to the ground and carry it throughout the week and we have to as coaches – and I thought we did a good job yesterday – of getting their chin up off the ground and get going again," Smith said, "and start believing what it is that we are going to get done this week and continue to progress and not step back."

Smith said that he expects the Arkansas crowd to be at its best.

"We expect to have a sellout crowd and for it to be loud and noisy and hopefully that can be our 12th man on the field," Smith said. "It is going to be exciting for us."

Top-ranked Alabama rallied to beat Arkansas 24-20 in 2010 in front of a crowd of 76,808 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"We had them here two years ago of course and I don't know that any of the fans in the stands ever sit down the entire game," Smith said. "We need that again this year. We need that 12th man and we need it again to just be loud and out of control. That energy that you feel in the stadium needs to transpire to our guys.

"It is crucial that the fans get out and get behind these guys," Smith added. "These are the same group of guys you were behind in spring ball. So don't be jumping off the bandwagon, get in here and support these guys."

O o o

Other notes:

…Smith noted that cornerback Tevin Mitchel also had gall bladder surgery while in a Little Rock hospital, but that was unrelated to the "injury above the shoulders" that he suffered in Saturday night's game.

…He also noted that cornerback Kaelon Kellybrew and Darius Winston would be starting and that Will Hines would be working as a back-up.

Arkansas also has Kelvin Fisher and Dayveon McKinney as cornerbacks and he said that also prepare true freshman Jared Collins to play now.

"We also may have to pull a guy that we were thinking about redshirting in a Collins out and getting him prepared," Smith said. "We would still like to save a redshirt if we could, but you still have to prepare that guy to make sure you have enough bodies to get you out of a game in case something happen."


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