September 10, 2007
Monday Update: Tide prepares for Hogs
Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide off to a 2-0 start in his first season in Tuscaloosa but many believe this weekend's game against the Arkansas Razorbacks could be a defining moment for the Tide's new head coach in re-establishing Alabama as one of the top programs in the SEC.
"Arkansas is an outstanding football team," Saban said Monday. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Houston Nutt and the job that he does there. They have some outstanding players. They do a great job of coaching them on both sides of the ball and on special teams. As I said after the (Vanderbilt) game, this guy, I always felt when I was in the league before, that he does as much with what he has in featuring the players that he has and the production that he gets of anybody that we played in this league. I just think he does an outstanding job. They looked very good in their opening win against Troy. (They) ran the ball like they always do for a whole bunch of yards, like 350."
Arkansas' success on the ground is something Saban said his team will be hoping to contain this week, with particular attention being paid to the Razorbacks' two star ball carriers.
"They've got two outstanding, outstanding running backs. These two guys, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, if they're not first round draft picks, I don't know what is-both of them. Both guys gained well over 1,000 yards last year. They're versatile. They're very dangerous on kickoff return as well. They've both been back there and they've both had big returns. It's going to be a real challenge to us from that standpoint."
On the other side of the ball, Saban hopes the offense can find a little more balance against what he expects to be an hard-nosed Arkansas defense.
"Defensively, they're very aggressive. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage. They pressure you quite a big with five guys. (Weston) Dacus and (Antwain) Robinson are both good guys returning up front for them that create some problems in terms of being hard guys to block. This is a really good team. We're only going to see them in one game this year, not having played last week. They're one of five teams that have bye weeks before they play us. I think the big focus for our team is to improve, prepare well all week so that we have the best chance to execute the plan against a very good football team and some great football players."
The Crimson Tide emerged from its second week of play with relatively few injuries. Running backs Jimmy Johns and Glen Coffee both working in black non-contact jerseys on Wednesday after suffering minor injuries in the Tide's victory over Vanderbilt last Saturday. Saban said Johns was suffering a twisted ankle that is still day to day while Coffee is expected to be ready to play Saturday as he recovers from a mild shoulder bruise.
Placekicker Jamie Christensen continues to work with the strength and conditioning coach along with offensive tackle Drew Davis.
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