Alabama kicked off its SEC schedule in style, shutting out the Arkansas Razorbacks 52-0. Check out Marq Burnett’s game story from today, which takes a closer look at the defensive performance put on by the Crimson Tide:
Alabama continued to punish Arkansas in the third quarter, extending its lead to 38-0. Here are some thoughts from the third quarter:
Alabama is dominating Arkansas at half time up 24-0. Here are some thoughts from the CW staff from that second quarter:
Alabama leads Arkansas 7-0 in Fayetteville after a strange first quarter. Here are some thoughts from the CW Sports staff after one:
Its an overcast and rainy day here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Weather.com is showing a high of just 68 degrees with a 90% chance of rain, so expect the drizzle to continue throughout the game.
Here are some other various news and notes before kickoff:
Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed the media on Monday ahead of Alabama’s first SEC game vs. Arkansas. Here is some of what he had to say:
John L. Smith has the most interesting situation in all of college football. He signed a contract to be the head coach for the Razorbacks that doesn’t last a full year. The Hogs will be talented on offense and if Smith can keep the team focused, they have a serious shot at representing the SEC West in Atlanta and playing for a national championship in Miami.
- Smith was a little confused with the protocol of SEC Media Days. He tried to skip the question/answer session and introduce his players.
- Smith said the outside pressure doesn’t affect the team. “You have to be like a duck and let that water roll off your back.”
- Smith believes this team can compete for a chance to play in Miami despite its offseason distractions.
- A reporter asked Smith if he would like to be the coach at Arkansas for longer than a year and Smith responds, “Of course! Do I look stupid? Don’t answer that.”
- Smith credited his “nothing to lose” attitude to his grandfather’s journey to America. Smith said he views life as an adventure and doesn’t close any doors.
- Smith said the teams biggest recruiting goal is keeping the talented kids from Arkansas in state.
- Smith was surprised he got the job and shocked when he heard about the Bobby Petrino situation.
- Smith acknowledged that the Hogs have to be mentally tougher and believe they can beat Alabama and LSU.
- Smith took multiple jabs at the Arkansas media that he recognized, getting laughs from the reporters in the room.
- Smith came to the podium in style and left with a bang.
- After the spat with a reporter, Smith hugged the Memphis reporter he pretended to argue with.
Marq: John L. Smith is full of energy and should have been a comedian or some type of entertainer. He moves to the beat of his own drum and has a “nothing to lose” attitude. Smith’s personality fits his current situation perfectly. He takes it one day at a time and doesn’t let the outside pressure get to him. If that care free attitude can translate into victories, Smith could become the Hogs coach for the next few years.
Marc: John L. Smith is in a tough situation, having to replace Bobby Petrino on such short notice and operating in such an uncertain state. He seems to have taken a nothing-to-lose approach, and it’s easy to see why – because he really doesn’t have anything to lose. He probably won’t be back next year, but said very bluntly – “do I look stupid?” – that he would love to. The sky’s the limit for Arkansas, but the floor looks mighty deep, too.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up first: Arkansas.
2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)
Final AP ranking: 5
In 2011, the Arkansas Razorbacks entered the season as a dark horse candidate to win the SEC. Alabama and LSU were the class of the league, but many believed that Bobby Petrino and the Hogs could pull off an upset or two and represent the SEC West in Atlanta. Things didn’t exactly work out as they hoped in Fayetteville, but Arkansas still finished with a respectable 11-2 record, with its only losses coming to the Tide and Tigers.
Alabama gave Arkansas a pretty good beating in Tuscaloosa, winning 38-14, and despite the 41-17 final score, the Razorbacks had a fighting chance against LSU. Arkansas jumped out to a 14-0 lead, only to give it right back to LSU and never fight back.
Arkansas finished its season with a 29-16 win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Key returning starters: QB Tyler Wilson, RB Knile Davis, LB Alonzo Highsmith
2012 outlook: Arkansas could be really good or really bad in 2012. There are obviously a lot of questions surrounding the head coaching position after Bobby Petrino was dismissed in the offseason and John L. Smith was brought in to replace him.
The Razorbacks could rally around Smith and use the offensive talent they have on their roster to make a run at the SEC West – Arkansas gets Alabama and LSU at home this year – or they could let the distractions get the best of them and lose five or six games. The talent is certainly there, it’s just going to come down to whether Smith can get his players to play focused, determined football. I’ll predict the Hogs to finish 9-4 with a bowl victory.
Key games in 2012:
- September 15 vs. Alabama
- November 10 @ South Carolina
- November 23 vs. LSU
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-15 @ Arkansas)
- Tyler Wilson vs. Alabama secondary: Even though Arkansas lost a lot of talent at wide receiver (Joe Adams and Greg Childs), the Razorback passing attack will still be a formidable one, led by one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC in Tyler Wilson. Alabama returns only Robert Lester and Dee Milliner in the secondary, so it will be up to inexperienced guys like Travell Dixon, Deion Belue and Vinnie Sunseri to step up early.
- Knile Davis vs. Alabama front seven: Davis missed the 2011 season with an ankle injury, but is looking to have a breakout year in 2012. He showed flashes of brilliance at the end of 2010 and could be one of the SEC’s top running backs in 2012 if he returns to form. Alabama will need to stop the run if it wants to have a chance on September 15th.