Saying No. 1 Alabama has been dominant this season is an understatement.
The Crimson Tide have demolished every opponent they have faced this season, winning by an average of 32 points in their seven games thus far.
However, Alabama’s offense on Saturday against two-win Arkansas will look very different under center. Where a comforting No. 13 once was, an unknown No. 10 will take his place as Tuscaloosa, Alabama, hosts its homecoming.
Tua Tagovaiola will miss his first game in a Crimson Tide uniform since being designated as starting quarterback a year ago. The projected first-round pick and Heisman front-runner suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s 35-13 win over Tennessee. The junior was forced to leave in the second quarter, leaving backup Mac Jones to take his place.
Jones wasn’t called upon to do much, throwing for only 72 yards on six of 11 attempts. Meanwhile, coach Nick Saban and the Alabama offense took a run-heavy approach, feeding junior back Najee Harris with 21 rushes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Jones has some big shoes to fill in Tagovaiola against the Razorbacks this week.
The incumbent starter has eclipsed the 2000 yards mark already this season, adding another 27 touchdowns to go with just two interceptions. This dominance has contributed to Alabama’s ranking, holding the fourth-best scoring offense in the country with 48.7 points per game. Despite having to throw through Tagovaiola’s shadow on Saturday, Saban fully believes in Jones under center as they prepare to take on the Razorbacks.
Saban plans on ‘winning the game’
During Saban’s normal press conference Thursday, a reporter asked the acclaimed coach if he planned on playing freshman Taulia Tagovaioloa, Tua’s younger brother, to expedite the process of his growth. Saban, whose known to be quick-tempered when it comes to media asking poorly worded questions, answered it the only way he could: passionately. His answer is below:
Nick Saban was asked will there be an effort to get Taulia Tagovailoa into the game Saturday just to expedite his progression. The audio levels went up a little bit while answering the question. @CBS_42 pic.twitter.com/5iAHsMP24I
— Ronald Gaines, Jr. (@RonGSports) October 23, 2019
By the odds
Even if Saban asserts Alabama will play the Razorbacks like any other team, it is Arkansas.
The 2-5 Razorbacks sit in last place in the SEC West, and are the only team in the SEC that hasn’t collected a win against a conference opponent this season. Their lone wins come against Portland State and Colorado State.
The Razorbacks enter Tuscaloosa, Alabama, off a 41-point loss to Auburn. Despite Alabama being short-handed without its starting quarterback, the Tide are still heavily favored over the Razorbacks.
The Crimson Tide enter as a 31.5-point favorite with the over-under for total points scored set at 56. Even with the deficiencies Alabama may face, expect the Tide to not have much trouble in this one against a smaller Arkansas program.