Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crimson Tide Opponent Preview: Game 4- Arkansas

8 The Crimson Tide will open up their in conference play in 2010 playing Arkansas in what could be an early season matchup of two potential SEC West champions. Arkansas may be poised to have their best year in a while and the best under coach Bobby Petrino. Last year, Arkansas came into Bryant Denny Stadium and had to go home with their tales between their legs. However the Hogs will have every intention of knocking off the defending national champions and adding an SEC championship trophy, some even think a national championship trophy, to the halls in Fayetteville. Already, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet and tight end D.J. Williams have had interviews where they shared their goal of winning a national championship and hoisting the crystal ball at the end of the season.

Last season however was a less than stellar year for the Razorbacks. They went 3-5 in the SEC and had an overall record 8-5. However, they look to build off last season’s play with 9 returning starters on offense and 7 on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest returner as we all know is Ryan Mallet, who will again lead the team from under center and be fully healed from his broken foot. While many thought he would have entered the NFL draft after last season, Mallet says he had no intention of leaving the team for the pros. Who wouldn’t come back knowing that he will again have the best wide receiving core and tight end in the country. In fact, returning wide receiver Greg Childs led all SEC receivers a year ago in league games in receiving yards, yards-per-catch, and touchdown catches. Also, it is probably well known that D.J. Williams will also be a force to be reckoned with at the tight end position. With the playmakers around him, some think Mallet may challenge for a Heisman Trophy this season. With all the firepower around him and Bobby Petrino’s interesting formations, the Hogs will pose quite the challenge on the Tide’s defense this season.

The Hogs defense will also be improved this season, a defense that ranked last in the SEC in passing. In fact, there have been some moves on the defensive side of the ball on the Hogs part to sure up the secondary. The biggest move we saw this spring was at safety. Rudell Crim moved from his cornerback position to safety, a position he played in JUCO. The Hogs will also have some key cornerbacks returning including Isaac Madison who missed all of last year with a knee injury. They Hogs secondary will definitely be faster and more physical then it was a year ago. Julio Jones, and the other Tide receivers will have to play well to separate themselves from this unit. The real question the team has is at the linebacker position. Jerry Franklin will start out  on the weak side, while Terrell Williams and Jermaine Love will continue their battle from spring this fall to get the starting slot at middle linebacker. Other than that, the Hogs will have to rely on some new names to fill key depth at the linebacker positions, and they can not afford to loose any this fall to injury.

As for now this game looks to be the Tide first SEC battle of the season, and we know the Arkansas team will come out with something to prove. The offenses will both be explosive and it may even come down to who has the ball last and makes the fewest mistakes. But, again we are along way from September 25th, and a lot may change between now and then. I still think the Tide will come out on top, it just may not be the blowouts we have seen the last couple of seasons.

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