Alabama Three Keys: Arkansas


Alabama eased past Louisiana last time out in a game that never threatened to go the way of the Ragin; Cajuns. Next up for the Crimson Tide is what Nick Saban has called a potential trap game against Arkansas.

By Steve Wright

Here are the three keys:

Kill the trap talk early

It was a very Saban thing to do to claim that this is a trap game. Arkansas (1-4) has been pretty awful by every standard in 2018 and the Crimson Tided opened up as 35 point favorites for this contest according to the guys in Vegas. That is the largest spread ever for a Saban led Alabama team in an SEC road game, surpassing the 27.5 point favorite it was in 2013 against Ole Miss.

Maybe Saban made this comment to focus his charges ahead of the game. After all, this is an 11:00 am kickoff time game against a team that has lost four on the bounce. Saban might not think of this as a trap game in reality, but he does need to do something to avoid his team being lethargic and uninterested out of the gate.

Get to 45 again

The Crimson Tide has hot the 45 points mark in every game this season and their offensive game plan should be to reach (and then beat) that total again in Fayetteville. Tua Tagovailoa was literally perfect last week in his limited time against Louisiana. He completed eight of eight passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns against a bad defense. Now he gets to face an Arkansas unit that has been picked apart so far this season.

The Arkansas passing defense gives up a lot of yardage and doesn’t take the ball away from its opponents with any level of success. This is obviously a bad combination of things. They rank 87th in the nation in passing yards allowed at 251.2 yards per game, so don’t be at all surprised to see Tagovailoa throw for 300+ as Alabama scores at will.

Apply pressure on defense

The key to Alabama’s defensive output in 2018 has been the ability to get to the quarterback and the desire to make game changing plays. The Crimson Tide has three interception returns for touchdowns already this season, continuing the Alabama tradition over Saban’s time with the team as having a defense that can go out and score points.

Deionte Thompson at safety has been particularly impressive. Thomson leads the team with 27 tackles to go along with his two interceptions and a forced fumble. If the defensive front can get pressure – which they should be able to through Isaiah Buggs (5.5 sacks) and Christian Miller (4.5 sacks) then the ball will be up for grabs on more than one occasion in Fayetteville.

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