FAYETTEVILLE — Alabama quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy last season and is off to another fast start in 2022.
No. 2 Alabama is 4-0 and will take on No. 19 Arkansas on Saturday afternoon in Razorback Stadium. In four games, Young has completed 83 of 121 passes for 1,029 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has rushed 16 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Arkansas nickel back Myles Slusher has a lot of respect for Young.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Slusher said. “He can make every throw a quarterback can make. He knows how to read the defense. And he can use his legs, too. He’s more of a threat than just pass, so we just have to be prepared for him this week while we’re at practice, and we’ll just keep preparing.”
Defensive end Jordan Domineck has 4.5 sacks this season and he knows the Hogs need to apply pressure on Young.
“It’s really going to be a crucial part of the game,” Domineck said. “There are a lot of people that just know him just as a Heisman winner, just somebody that knows how to play football well. He can read a defense, like Slush said. He’s able to use his feet. He’s really a dual-threat quarterback. So, just being able to contain him and keep him in the pocket while also affecting his throws will help us a lot on defense.
“For the simple fact is that they do throw a lot. We’ve noticed in their tendencies that they do like to throw. They’re more of a throwing team now, especially on first and second down on the down. So, we’ve just got to make sure we keep him in the pocket, keep him contained. Can’t let him use his legs. We’ve got to cut out his main strengths of the game. That’s what our focus is. That’s what our goal is, to get to him. Disrupt him. Get in his face. Just make it easier on the back end for our defense.”
The Texas A&M game was Slusher’s first action since the season opener against Cincinnati. Slusher finished with six tackles, four solo, one for loss, a pass breakup and single quarterback hurry in the 23-21 loss.
“It went good,” Slusher said. “Still a lot of stuff to clean up as far as my playing and technique wise. But it felt good being back out there with the team and everything. I felt like we’re coming good together. We’re going to have a strong week this week.”
To get the bad taste of Arkansas’ first loss of the season the team will be home Saturday with a CBS national telecast against the Tide. Slusher feels that will help get the Hogs ready to play a very good game.
“It definitely could be a big factor,” Slusher said. “We’ve got them at home. 80,000 I think (76,000). It’s great being at home. You know it gives you that extra boost that you might need, and just giving the fans what they want. It’s just, I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Domineck grew up in Florida. Spent the first four years of his career at Georgia Tech. He talked about what it will be like facing Alabama on Saturday.’
“Just going against Alabama, it’s a great program,” Domineck said. “They definitely have a great coaching staff. They’re very experienced. They know what they’re doing. I saw that my boy Jahmyr Gibbs went over there. He transferred there from Georgia Tech, as well. We used to play together, so. Just, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Alabama. But then again, great team, but they’re not unbeatable. They’ve been beaten before, and just can’t put them on that pedestal of where we’re going into the game and we’re just thinking, ‘Oh, we’re just going to lose. How bad we’re going to lose?’ Nah, we’ve got to go into the game and just understand that we’re on an even playing field, right now. We’ve got to go out there and play like we’re the best team out there, like we’re the overdog. We can’t just go out there and go through the motions, and that’s what we’ve been really striving for in practice, too. Just to be able to play to our brand of football, our level of football. Just try to elevate every single day, and it’s just going to be Arkansas versus Arkansas. We can’t really focus on too many teams whether it’s Alabama, whether it’s Missouri State, whether it’s Cincinnati, Auburn. It doesn’t really matter. We know we’re just going to play our brand of football then go out there and give our best shot.”
Gibbs is a big threat for the Tide. He is second on the Tide with 25 carries for 172 yards. He also has 17 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Domineck talked about Gibbs’ game.
“He’s a really good threat I honestly can say,” Domineck said. “He knows how to catch the ball. He knows how to work in open space. He wants to get out into the open. He’s always trying to get through to a check down or whatnot. If the quarterback doesn’t have any reads down the field, he’s going to dump it off to Jahmyr and let Jahmyr try to take over the game. That’s going to be important for the D-line to understand that. Once he ball gets out, then we’ve got to turn around and just run. We’ve got be able to surround him, not just the back end, but the front end of it as well.
“We can’t let him get in the cutback lanes. We’ve just got to take Jahmyr out of the game. Really take Alabama out of the game if we can. That’s going to be our main goal, our main focus. To create a better game plan than they have.”
As far as Young is concerned, Domineck is excited in some ways to play against the Heisman Trophy winner.
“It does and it doesn’t at the same time, ’cause you have to think, each quarterback that we play, they all have different assets,” Domineck said. “They all have different attributes that we have to just prepare for, but at the end of the day, we understand that, look, we’re not just playing a Heisman Trophy winner, we’re playing a whole team. We have to go out there and do our jobs, do what we need to do, make our assignments and you know, take them out of their game. So whether they’re the best quarterback or the worst, anybody can really, you know, make plays if you let them, and that’s just something that we can let them do. We can’t let ’em, you know, play their game. We can’t let him get comfortable in the pocket. We can’t let him, you know, just scramble around the field. We just have to be able to play our game, keep him contained and just play the way the Arkansas Razorbacks have always played.”
Slusher also talked about facing Young.
“Oh, yes,” Slusher said. “He’s great. You know, he just won the Heisman last year. He can do everything, man. And it’s just like, we just have to prepare the whole week and contain him in the game. You know, he could make a lot of plays with his legs and his arm, so it’s just something we haven’t seen yet. We’re gonna be ready when the time comes.”
Alabama has defeated Utah State 55-0, Texas 20-19, ULM 63-7 and Vanderbilt 55-3. Saturday’s kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.