|Tua-less No. 1 Bama entertains Arkansas|
No. 1 Alabama will be without starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Tua Tagovailoa when it plays host to Arkansas on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Razorbacks coach Chad Morris, however, expects little drop-off in the Crimson Tide's offense behind sophomore QB Mac Jones.
"They've got a great supporting cast around him," Morris said as he began preparing the Razorbacks (2-5, 0-4) for their fourth consecutive meeting against a top-ranked Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) team.
"A wide receiver corps that you can look all you want there's not many deficiencies. The speed that they have, and, obviously, being able to run the ball with (Najee) Harris is very effective."
Jones goes into the game having made six appearances for the season in mop-up duty. He has completed 20 of 32 passes for 237 yards a touchdown and an interception. He was 6-of-11 for 72 yards in Bama's 35-13 win over Tennessee last week when he took over after Tagovailoa injured his ankle in the second quarter.
"He didn't do anything that really hurt us in the game," Bama coach Nick Saban said. "He had two balls that were dropped that were critical situations in the game.
"The one play that he scrambled on third down when he could have thrown the ball, I would assume that if you ask him, he'll say he wishes he would have thrown the ball because the guy was open for a first down. But all in all, I thought he handled the situation really well."
Having time to prepare this week should help. Bama has known that Jones would start this week since last Sunday morning, when Tagovailoa had surgery.
"We've got a lot of confidence in Mac," Saban said, "and with a week of preparation I think he'll do a lot better in this game."
Alabama's defense alone should be able to keep things under control against an Arkansas offense that is 10th in total offense (385.29 ypg) and 11th in scoring (24.71 ppg) in the SEC. Last week against Auburn, the Hogs rushed for only 52 yards and passed for just 182 in a 51-10 loss to Auburn.
"We dominated the time of possession from the second and third quarter," Morris said, "but we struggled to move the ball consistently."
The Hogs are tied for No. 126 in red-zone scoring in FBS with only 10 touchdowns and six field goals in 24 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
"We've got to find a way to score," Morris said.
Scoring is not an issue with Alabama, which is No. 4 in the country with its 48.7 average. However, keeping attention on a struggling Arkansas team with a Nov. 9 date with No. 2 LSU looming could be a challenge for the Crimson Tide.
"The focus needs to be completely on this game, completely, day-to-day this week," Saban said. "That's No. 1 for preparation."
--Field Level Media