Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The Other Side: An inside look at the Arkansas Razorbacks

CW/ Natalie Teat
Alabama football team during a timeout against Texas A&M on Oct. 7 in College Station, Texas.

The No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide is set to take on SEC opponents the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks in Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday after a close victory at Texas A&M last week. The Crimson White’s Conner Davis sat down with Dylan Stewart, sports editor of The Arkansas Traveler, to discuss the upcoming matchup.  

Davis: Alabama is coming into this game being ranked No. 11 with one loss, which is bringing a large amount of criticism from the media, saying it’s a down year for the Crimson Tide. How could that help with Arkansas’ mindset going into this game? 

Stewart: I think it might help, but as much the media has been bashing Alabama, the local media has been bashing Arkansas even more just because of how poor our season has been so far. I guess we are similar in that sense. It’s always funny to me when people say it’s a down year for Alabama like oh, wow, a down year is ranked 11th. I can only imagine. I think Arkansas can find some positive hope in the game against South Florida. I think that was a low point of the season for Alabama but there were a lot of factors going into that game with the weather and quarterback play. I don’t think we can have a high horse going in there thinking Alabama is having an off year because they have beat some teams we have been struggling against pretty handily like Ole Miss and Texas A&M. 

Davis: Continuing with the backlash Arkansas has received from the media, head coach Sam Pittman and starting quarterback KJ Jefferson have been getting most of the backlash for the decisions they have made so far this season. How do you think that will affect them and how will they respond? 

Stewart: There is a lot of unnecessary noise surrounding the program, just a lot of social media drama. I think the noise might not be as big of a factor as the media makes it out to be, but it definitely doesn’t help. It can’t help a team that is dealing with so many new variables. It’s only going to hurt the focus of the team.  

Davis: Alabama has struggled at the quarterback position to start the season but has improved each week. How can Arkansas impact the quarterback play?  

Stewart: Yeah, I think from what I have seen he has confidence and throughout the season he has been able to show his leadership quality as well. I think we just have to shake that confidence; I think if KJ Jefferson, our quarterback, can outperform Milroe partially in the early quarters, I think it will do a lot for the Arkansas team. Obviously, our defense needs to take advantage of the fact you are not facing off against Bryce Young, you are facing off against a guy that has been a little unsteady with quarterback play. 

Davis: The offensive line not being as strong as it’s been in past years and giving up sacks has slowed the offense down in every game this season. What do you think Arkansas can do to break up the offensive line and get to the quarterback? 

Stewart: That is a little unknown too because we don’t have all of our tools due to injuries. We are having to switch players around on the defensive line, which is something Sam Pittman has been doing throughout the season, is rotating players in on the defensive line, and our offensive line too, which the media has been eating up. I do think we won’t have as much success as it might seem just because we will be missing guys on defense.  

Davis: As you mentioned injuries, Arkansas is coming into this game with four starters out on defense. How will that impact the defense and overall game?  

Stewart: That is going to be a major issue for us particularly against Alabama because they have a tremendous offense. The injuries are going to be an issue because our defense has really set the table for our offense all season long. There have been periods so far this season where our defense has outperformed and even outscored our offense at times.  

Davis: Alabama has been struggling with penalties this season as they come into this game with 43 on the year. Arkansas has also had the same penalty issue as they come into this game with 46. How big of an impact do you think penalties will have on this game, and do you think we will see a lot during the game? 

Stewart: There is a good chance we will see a lot of penalties during the game just based off what we have seen from each team this season. I will say that Arkansas’ penalties in recent weeks have been under control, the first two weeks were very flag-flooded for us. This week I think it all comes down to communication, which is the cause of most of our problems on the field. I think it could definitely be a penalty-filled contest, particularly because we will be in Tuscaloosa. 

Davis: Who are some key players on the Arkansas team that people should keep an eye on during the game? 

Stewart: We have had such a revolving door of talent throughout the season so far, it seems random when guys get hot then cold. If you had asked two weeks ago, I would have told you tight end Luke Hasz is going to lead the way for Arkansas, but he is out with a broken clavicle for the season. This is going to be running back Raheim Sanders’ third game back of the season and I want to say he will get back into a groove, but he has been progressing at a steady pace and sitting at single-digit carries since coming back from his injury, so I am not entirely sure if he’s back at 100%. On the receiving side of things, transfer Andrew Armstrong has been one of our better receivers this season. He and KJ Jefferson have had great connection. Another key weapon the past couple of weeks for KJ Jefferson is Tyrone Broden. I would say both Armstrong and Broden are going to have big games Saturday.  

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. 

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