The #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0) have one more regular-season opponent until they play for their 14th SEC Championship. This Saturday, Alabama will meet the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-6) in Fayetteville for the regular-season finale. The Tide know they must be careful against this Razorbacks team that has been surprisingly good this season. Arkansas has accounted for a record of 1-4 against top 25 teams. They were close to defeating the #13 Auburn Tigers in the third SEC week of the season if it wasn’t for an incorrect call from the referees. This could be a trap game for the Crimson Tide as they might prepare for a week early for the #6 Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game. This Saturday will be a perfect opportunity for Alabama to address its concerns on the team against Arkansas as they prepare for the postseason.
#1 Alabama Ready For Regular Season Finale Against Arkansas
Tide Will Need To Fix Final Problems On Defense Against Arkansas
The Crimson Tide will look to focus their efforts against Arkansas by addressing their defensive flaws. Alabama’s defense ranks 17th in the nation in points allowed per game (18.3). Their biggest concerns are their specific zone coverage schemes in the deep passing game regarding the safeties especially Daniel Wright. They will also allow too many short-range passes when initializing some zone coverage schemes. This portion of defending the passing game was highlighted in their last game against the LSU Tigers. Their defense ranks 77th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (227.1) despite being completely dominated in man coverage. They have three of the best man coverage cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II, Josh Jobe, and Malachi Moore.
The Tide have been improving their consistency in getting to the running back and taking proper pursuit angles. They will need to watch out for a productive Razorbacks’ offense led by dual-threat quarterback Feleipe Franks. Arkansas ranks 52nd in the nation in total yards per game (398.9). They also rank 44th in passing yards per game (239.7). Franks can be an efficient playmaker against Alabama’s defense by mixing up play schemes and driving the ball. This will be a big game for middle linebacker Christian Harris, who is their main playmaker on defense.
Alabama Continues To Dominate On Offense
Alabama will look to continue its dominance on the offensive side of the ball against Arkansas. Their offense continues to score at a highly efficient level with three potential Heisman Trophy finalists. Quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and running back Najee Harris have highly contributed to Alabama being the third-ranked scoring offense (49.2 points per game). They will not have too many concerns creating some productivity on the field against a Razorbacks’ defense that allows 441.2 total yards allowed per game (106th in the nation). This will be a game where Alabama will look to develop other starters in situations where Smith is double-teamed. Sophomore tight end Jahleel Billingsley has become a dangerous and dynamic playmaker for the Tide’s offense.
Against Auburn and LSU, Billingsley has caught six receptions for 101 yards )16.8 yards per reception) and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver John Metchie has caught 35 receptions for 648 yards and six touchdowns. Metchie has shown to be an excellent star receiver for Alabama along with Smith. Metchie might have another career day against a Razorbacks’ defense that ranks 102nd in passing yards allowed per game (251.8). This could a game where backup true freshman quarterback Bryce Young could get multiple drives in order to get himself experience on the field. This season, Young has thrown for 137 yards, one touchdown, and a 137.8 quarterback rating on 10 completions (out of 18 passing attempts). This Saturday might be his last chance for him to play for Alabama, barring injury to Jones, before next season.