September 22, 2006

Notebook: Tide faces big Hawg line

After three weeks of being spread out across the field at home, defensive coordinator Joe Kines and the Tide defense are ready to play the style of defense they practiced all summer. In the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tide will face a more traditional power running game and will finally get a chance to show their grit and determination against an aggressive SEC offense.

"When you think about Arkansas, you think about a big, strong offensive line," said Kines. "This won't be any game for the faint-hearted. Women and children better get out of the way, this'll be full-grown men out there."

With running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and fullback Peyton Hillis combining to form the SEC's most productive running game, Kines knows his defense must bear down and play dominant football to stop the Arkansas ground game.

"These backs can run through you. They're not going to be impressed with somebody coming up and arm-tackling," Kines said. "You're going to have to wrap up and run your feet."

"They have three premier runners and do a good job of getting the ball to them. You have to keep them pinned up because if they get in to the secondary, good luck to you and all of your partners. It is tough when they get back there in the secondary. I don't see anybody stopping them cold but we have to slow them down a little bit."

If the running backs weren't enough to give Kines nightmares, the Razorbacks' offensive line will be among the biggest and most experienced the Tide will face this season.

"They have probably as talented of an offensive line as they have had there," Kines said. "They are a typical Arkansas where the right tackle is 6'6", 330. He is a giant of a man and a good football player. They have all the tools to run the ball."

The Alabama defensive line will need to play its sharpest game yet in order to keep the Razorback line from getting the push it wants in the running game.

"They're one of the most gifted and experienced and athletic offensive lines I've ever seen," said defensive tackle Jeremy Clark. "Whatever you could want in an offensive line, they're going to bring it to the table. On tape, you can tell they've gotten better from last year."

Aside from the running game, Arkansas' offense also brings plenty to the table in the passing game despite starting a true freshman quarterback in Mitch Mustain.

"Their freshman quarterback is playing with a lot of confidence and is playing well," Kines said. "Then you throw Marcus Monk in the mix and it gives you a very talented, tall wide receiver who can run, jump and catch the ball."

"They have an arsenal of an offense. They have taken the power game from last year and added it to the shotgun. It gives us a new wrinkle and something that is hard to simulate in practice so it will be a challenging week for us on the practice field."

This versatile offense means the Tide will have to continue to play the disciplined, gap-sound defense that Kines stresses to his team in practice.

"In this scheme it is all across the board. You have to play gap control and you have to keep enough numbers," Kines said. "The tackles, linebackers and safety all have to be involved. It has to be a group effort and can't be an individual thing."

"I think it will be a big task for us, we have faced more of a spread offensive the first three games. There whole offensive mentality is to run the ball. They are very big up front. We have not faced an offense like that this year. It's a new challenge for us"


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