FAYETTEVILLE — Some critics would suggest maybe this should be the one key for Arkansas to defeat Alabama and that would be the Tide forget the kickoff time and don’t show.
The truth is while it’s very unlikely Arkansas wins this game the possibility is there. It would take a lot of things going right for the team and maybe as many happening bad for Alabama. Arkansas hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2006.
Here’s five keys for Arkansas to pull off the upset.
I write this each week, but the oddity of it is the one week they completely eliminated the penalties they suffered their biggest loss of the season by margin, 34-22 to Texas A&M. The games where Arkansas had double-digit penalties they lost by a touchdown or less. BYU beat them 38-31, LSU 34-31 and Ole Miss 27-20. But despite the oddity of the Texas A&M game, penalties have prevented the Hogs from likely winning some of these other games. Arkansas will certainly need to cut these pre-snap penalties out that are hampering an offense that is already struggling.
Turnovers Becoming Issue
Prior to this season, it would have been harder to find a quarterback who protected the football better than KJ Jefferson. But Jefferson has thrown six interceptions in the four losses. He had two against Ole Miss and LSU. Jefferson was picked off once by BYU and Texas A&M. The interceptions are certainly not all Jefferson’s fault. He has been hit more this season with little time to throw. But Arkansas has to eliminate the turnovers against an Alabama defense that will apply pressure to Jefferson.
Get Running Game Going
Once again this is a topic each week. But until Arkansas gets a running game that at least forces the defense to respect it then Jefferson will get full pressure from opposing defenses. They are pinning their ears back and coming after Jefferson. The Hogs rushed 29 times for 36 yards against Ole Miss. A respectable running game against the Rebels would have likely resulted in a win. It was 39 carries for 42 yards against Texas A&M. That shows even eliminating the penalties the Hogs need to do more to win. After six games I am not sure the running game can be fixed, but if it can’t, for whatever reason(s), then the Hogs will continue to struggle on offense and lose games.
In the red zone, get touchdowns and not field goals. Arkansas did better with this last week. In three trips inside the Ole Miss red zone, they got two touchdowns, but did have to settle for one field goal. This was especially an issue against LSU. They got in red zone five times and only got two touchdowns along with three field goals. Hogs need 7 not 3 points down there.
Limit Explosive Plays
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe can run the football and also excels at throwing it deep. The Hogs must limit the explosive plays by the Tide. The inability to do that killed the Hogs in second half of the LSU game. They did a much better job against Ole Miss last week. It’s a must to continue to improve in this area against Alabama.