Bobby Petrino's Arkansas squad is off to a 3-0 start. The first two wins came easily by a combined score of 103-10 over obviously inferior opponents. Last weekend's clash with Troy proved to be much more competitive, and while the result was a 38-28 triumph, the margin was a bit too close for comfort.
"I wasn't real happy with the way we finished the game," said Petrino. "I think we have a lot to work on to get ready for Alabama."
Alabama is also 3-0, and like Arkansas, two of the three victories to date have been blowouts. Last weekend, the Crimson Tide dominated both sides of the ball in rolling to a 41-0 win over North Texas. With Florida coming up on October 1, Nick Saban's team has two outstanding opponents lined up in back- to-back weeks.
"Arkansas has a very good team, so we're going to have to execute a lot better, but your effort, your mental and physical toughness, all those things should be at the same level all the time if you're playing the way you're supposed to play to be to the best kind of player you can be," said Saban..
Alabama extended its edge to 11-8 over Arkansas in the all-time series between the programs with a 24-20 triumph over the Razorbacks last season.
Tyler Wilson threw for 289 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 23- of-36 passing to lead Arkansas to the 10-point win over Troy last Saturday. Ronnie Wingo ran all over the Tojan defense, racking up 108 yards and two scores on 19 tries, while Joe Adams led the receivers with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown for Arkansas. Cobi Hamilton added five catches for 81 yards.
Through three outings, Wilson is completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. Adams has 15 catches to pace the club, while Hamilton has a club-high 252 receiving yards. As for Wingo, he has rushed for 225 yards and two scores, while Kody Walker has five rushing touchdowns to his credit.
Defensively, Arkansas certainly could have played better against Troy. The Razorbacks yielded 457 total yards and 22 first downs. The Trojans were able to rack up 373 passing yards with three touchdowns coming through the air, and all three of those scoring passes came in the final 31 minutes of the ball game.
"I think in the second half that we stayed on the field too long, but we'll get everything settled before Alabama," said Arkansas defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones after the win.
The Razorbacks are yielding only 12.7 ppg as well as 305.7 total ypg, numbers that were even better before last weekend's affair. Arkansas has been outstanding against the run, permitting a mere 87.7 ypg at a clip of 3.3 ypc. It is impressive to note that the team has yet to allow a rushing touchdown through 12 quarters of football.
Switching focus to Alabama, Trent Richardson rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries, and Eddie Lacy added 161 yards and two scores on nine rushing attempts as Alabama rolled over North Texas last week.
"The offensive line did pretty good and they established themselves in the second half," said Richardson. "They really got their head into it, and that really made a big difference in the game. It always feels good to run behind the offensive line like that."
A.J. McCarron completed 15-of-21 passes for 190 yards for the Crimson Tide, as he is firmly entrenched as the club's quarterback. McCarron and company made good on more than half of their third down conversion attempts and overcame a pair of fumbles. There isn't a star receiver on the roster, but many individuals are capable of respectable contributions as pass catchers.
Through three tilts, 'Bama is posting 38.7 ppg and 475.7 total ypg. Saban's offense has been tremendously well balanced, accounting for 242 ypg on the ground and 233.7 ypg through the air. Richardson has rushed for eight touchdowns already while gaining 6.3 ypc, and McCarron has completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 579 yards and two scores.
While the offense was piling up the points against North Texas, the Alabama defense was stellar, limiting the Mean Green to 11 first downs and 169 total yards. Running the ball against the Tide is always an up hill battle, and UNT found that out the hard way by gaining a mere 68 yards on 32 attempts. Meanwhile, Alabama yielded just 13-of-31 pass completions for an average of only 7.8 yards per connection.
Opponents are earning a mere 6.0 ppg and 170.0 total ypg against the Crimson Tide through three contests. Alabama is yielding a mere 55.3 rushing ypg at a clip of 2.0 ypc, and the defense has permitted just 45-of-117 pass attempts to be completed.