This week’s game between the beloved Arkansas Razorbacks, ranked 10th, and the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, and defending national champs, is one of the biggest games in several years for Hog fans. Certainly, it is one of the biggest games this early in the season in a long time.
While the Hogs are 3-0 and ranked number 10, they are far from national championship material. Nevertheless, as these games go, they have a chance to pull off the upset, and with quarterback Ryan Mallett at the controls, the possibility can become a reality.
Therefore, here are seven key ingredients for the Razorbacks to pull off the upset in Fayetteville.
The Hogs need to fill Donald W. Renyolds Razorback Stadium with 75,000 screaming fans. O.K., capacity is listed at 72,000 fans, but an extra 3,000 fans wouldn’t hurt. The fans need to show up and be loud. The energy is something that teams feed off of, and the Hogs will need the energy to play fast.
Limit Big Plays
The talent on Alabama’s offense is staggering. The Tide returns Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram along with backfield-mate Trent Richardson whom many think is as good, if not better. Along with the punishing running game, Alabama sports returning quarterback Greg McElroy. McElroy, in his own right, is a great quarterback who can deliver when necessary. The Hogs have to limit big plays and make Alabama work for the yardage they get.
The defense needs to get a pass rush on Greg McElroy. They don't have to do that on every play, just when a drive is at stake. When the Tide is in third-and-long, they have to make the kind of plays that Jake Bequette made in the Georgia game last week. It will be up to Bequette and guys like Anthony Leon to get the necessary pressure on McElroy to force bad throws or even get a sack when Alabama has to pass the ball.
Manage the Game
Ryan Mallett has improved on his ability to be patient from last year. Mallett has consistently been able to help get tight end D. J. Williams involved in the passing game when nothing is open down field. Mallett began the game-winning drive against Georgia last week by hitting Williams two times in a row. The Hogs can’t get in a hurry, and they have to keep the pace of the game from going too fast.
Get Joe Adams and Greg Childs the ball in space
These are the two best play-makers on the team. Mallett and head coach Bobby Petrino need to get them the football in space so that they can make plays. Judging by the first three weeks, the Hog running game will not be prolific, so, it will be up to Joe Adams and Greg Childs to keep the chains moving and score points for the Razorbacks.
Broderick Green needs to be the workhorse at running back. Green is the best all-around running back that the Hogs have. He can get the tough yards and he can pick up blitzes. Although he doesn’t have blazing speed, he has shown the ability to go the distance with the football. Green needs to help take the pressure off of Mallett, Childs and Adams with a solid effort. Further, he needs to deliver in the fourth quarter.
The offensive line needs to grow up in a hurry, and a game like this can be that game. The line is young and inexperienced at a couple of positions, and they have struggled to find the chemistry needed to give the Hogs a viable running game. They don’t have to be great against ‘Bama, but they have to be good enough to get Green and his backfield-mates the opportunity to find some room to run the ball.