Alabama visits new-look Hogs

Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick was hardly a concern for Alabama last year as running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were running around and through the Crimson Tide defense for 291 yards.

No. 9 Alabama at Arkansas – 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 20, CW 21 and WSFA 12

One year, one head coach and two first-round draft picks later, Dick has the Alabama defense’s full attention. The senior quarterback has completed 47 of 75 passes

for 641 yards and four touchdowns in new coach Bobby Petrino’s offense.

“He’s an outstanding offensive coach,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday of Petrino at the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference. “They’re certainly playing pretty well offensively right now.”

The Razorbacks (2-0) enter the game rested but possibly not as tested as Petrino would like after Hurricane Ike forced the cancellation of last week’s scheduled game at Texas.

On the other hand, Arkansas had more time to focus on Alabama. That was welcome because Petrino said Alabama’s 3-4 defensive scheme forces opposing offenses to spend more time on blocking different looks.

“They’re a very good football team, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Petrino said.

In addition to Dick, the Tide (3-0) will also be challenged by its first true road game of the season. Saban said he hopes a neutral-site contest with Clemson to open the season will help his players deal with a hostile environment. That game was played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with tickets split 50-50.

“It’s different to win on the road in the SEC, and it will be challenging for us,” Saban said. “You preach not being affected by external factors, but sometimes [players] have to experience it themselves.”