Alabama will face a “dangerous” Arkansas team Saturday in its first SEC road matchup, according to head coach Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide is entering week five undefeated, while Arkansas comes in at 3-1, losing last Saturday to Texas A&M.
The Sam Pittman-coached Razorbacks dropped from No. 10 to No. 20 in the weekly AP Top 25 College Football Poll after a thrilling 23-21 defeat in the Southwest Classic showdown.
During his weekly Monday press conference, Saban began his opening remarks by saying his No. 2 ranked squad displayed more consistency last week against Vanderbilt than in previous games.
“We had a good start in the SEC. I think we played better in the last game,” said Saban. “Paid better attention to detail. Had more success when we did. And when we didn’t, we probably didn’t have as much success, but we were very consistent for the most part in how we executed offensively, defensively and on special teams. Still things that we need to improve on. We need to show that we can sort of build on this and show progress as a team, individually and collectively.”
The Alabama coach warned of the dangers associated with facing a team coming off a “tough loss” the week prior.
“This is a very dangerous team we’re playing in Arkansas. They have a very, very good team. Coming off a tough loss. They make a lot of explosive plays,” he said. “KJ Jefferson is, dual threat-wise big, strong, really good passer. They’ve got a lot of quarterback runs, which create another gap on defense. And to go with that, they have great play-action passes. They make a lot of explosive plays. Sam’s done a great job there, to me. They play with toughness. They run the ball effectively, stop the run on defense.”
Playing a “very good” SEC West Division team in Arkansas will require the Tide’s best preparation headed into Saturday, according to Saban.
“I mean, their guys play hard. They’ve got a real culture there that shows great intangibles. Their defense is good,” he said. “So this is a really, really good all-around team. And it’s going to take great preparation on our part to go on the road and be able to play the way we need to play against a very good SEC team.”
Regarding his team’s offensive identity, Saban touched on the need to better utilize skill players and make “explosive plays.”
“I think you build an identity over a season. And we’re going to continue to try to do that so that we have balance and we feature the players that we have on our team so that they have the best opportunities to be successful,” he said. “I think there’s been times that we’ve done that extremely well. There’s times that we haven’t. We made a lot of explosive plays in the last game, which we want to continue to be able to do, utilize the skill players that we have and run the ball effectively when we need to.”
“We’re still building on that identity but I think the players are making really good progress.”
Alabama and Arkansas will face off at 2:30 p.m. on CBS at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL