Wednesday Grid Report, 9/22

Arkansas has yet to allow a sack this season. Can it continue that streak against Alabama?

Arkansas has shown it has plenty of playermakers this season while rolling up over 525 yards total offense per game to lead the SEC this season.

But somewhat overlooked is just how well an young offensive line has done, not allowing a sack and allowing the Razorbacks (2-1, 0-0) to make those plays.

Those linemen will get perhaps their biggest test of the young season with Alabama (3-0, 1-0) brings the league's number one ranked defense to Fayetteville for a 2:30 p.m. game that will be nationally televised by CBS.

"They have done a good job, but this is going to be a real test," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said Wednesdaqy following practice. "We have got to play our best game of the year. We are playing a great football team whose defense is number one in the SEC."

Razorback offensive line coach Mike Markuson admits he takes a lot of pride in how the offensive line is playing, but he won't go overboard about it.

"It's been nice, but there are a lot of factors that go into it," Markuson said. "We have a tremendous amont of speed at wide receiver and (senior quarterback Matt) Jones has the ability to scramble and get us out of some bad plays. He is also very smart with the ball and that helps."

Markuson also credits the head coach and not throwing too much at thsoe inexperience offensive linemen as factors.

"One of the reasons that we have been pretty effective is Coach Nutt calls things that our guys up front are able to handle," Markuson said. "We don't get too cut or fancy and have a thousand protections. We just try to do what they do well and execute."

Arkansas is averaging 297.3 yards through the air and 22.8.3 on the ground and not seeing as many blitzes because of that balance.

"If we can run with it and throw it, I don't think a lot of people are going to blitz us," Markuson said. "What we have seen we have picked up pretty well so far."

Alabama has up its share of points and yards this season while downing Utah State 48-17, Ole Miss 28-7 and Division I-AA Western Carolina 51-0 in three home games.

"That have so many different sets, formations and movements that it's hard," Nutt said. "Our scout team has really done a god job with that this week and I appreciate their efforts. It takes everyone to get it done."

It's clear that Arkansas' players have tuned in on their SEC opener.

"It has been good focus this week, good intensity," Nutt said. "They know it's SEC football, know it is a big game. There is no secret in that. That's what you go by - you go by practice and they have been getting with it."

Most of the injured Razorbacks were in practice on Wednesday, but cornerback Chris Houston and backup offensive lineman Nate Garner were limited and are questionble for Saturday's game.

If Houston - who is also a gunner on the punt team - can't go, he's defensive reps will be taken by starter Darius Vinnett and true freshmen Matterral Richardson and Michael Grant.

"Chris tried to move around today, but he is still hurting and very sore," Nutt said. "We just won't know (until gametime). He definitely won't start or play as much as we hoped - as of right now. Hopefully by Saturday we can use him as a gunner or something like that."


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