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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

Over its first few seasons after joining the SEC, Texas A&M felt like a jigsaw puzzle missing a couple of pieces.

The Aggies found those missing pieces after they hired John Chavis, the former Tennessee and LSU defensive coordinator, to coach them at the same position. Chavis immediately brought a toughness to the job that the Aggies had been lacking. Although Texas A&M is far from a defensive powerhouse in 2015, the improvement is noticeable, and more is expected in the future.

Alabama enters this game coming off its second physical test in a row. Alabama has beaten Georgia and Arkansas in successive weeks, and now must face the high-powered spread attack brought by Texas A&M. With rival Tennessee coming to Tuscaloosa the week after this game, many Alabama fans are worried that this contest has all the makings of a textbook trap game and upset.

Arkansas recap: Hogs too limited to capitalize on Bama mistakes

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Arkansas recap: Hogs too limited to capitalize on Bama mistakes

Alabama football games are rarely defined by one quarter, but the Crimson Tide’s 27-14 win over Arkansas was almost entirely about the fourth quarter plus 1:39 of the third.

And it never should have come to that.

The Crimson Tide spun wheels for most of Saturday’s game against Arkansas, victimized by spotty offensive line play, inconsistent quarterback play and playcalling that often veered into the realm of the obtuse. But the best defensive line in college football – perhaps the best defensive front seven – and a secondary that continues to improve every week kept Arkansas from really doing anything about it.

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

It is easy to dismiss Arkansas as “Georgia Lite” given the Razorbacks’ offensive tendencies, but Arkansas has frequently been a tough out for Alabama. So much so, in fact, that Alabama needs to avoid falling into the trap posed by this direct-from-central-casting “trap game.”

In 2014, Arkansas took Alabama to the wire before the Crimson Tide eventually won, 14-13. It was the game that the Alabama coaches used to eventually define the 2014 squad, and it also marked the last game QB Blake Sims really struggled to get through. In 2015, Alabama gets the Hogs a week after rolling around like a bunch of hogs in the Georgia mud. Fortunately for Alabama, the fourth quarter of its win over Georgia was little more than a mutual slap-fest, as prescribed by the stunningly poor weather conditions.

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

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Previews 2015: Arkansas Razorbacks

Bret Bielema’s second-year success was as important for his future as it was Arkansas’. Bielema led Arkansas to a 6-6 record and then a dominating bowl win over old Southwest Conference rival Texas, giving some credence to the idea that old-school football might still have a place in the SEC. Arkansas will be boring, but probably effective. The offense is one of the most experienced in the SEC, but the defense, which overachieved in 2014, was gutted by the graduation cycle.

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Arkansas Wrap-Up: Nice to get a win, but Bama has issues

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Arkansas Wrap-Up: Nice to get a win, but Bama has issues

It is the height of irony that the principal reason for Alabama scoring more points than Arkansas Saturday came as a result of a special teams play on the part of the Crimson Tide.

A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen have been crushing opponents’ field goal and extra-point formations all season long. And, for the second consecutive week, one of those plays gave Alabama the opportunity to win.

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks smell blood in the water as Bama comes to town

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks smell blood in the water as Bama comes to town

Whether Arkansas actually follows through with doing the near-impossible this weekend, it won’t be for a lack of confidence that the impossible can be done.

In year two of Bret Bielema’s tenure in Fayetteville, Arkansas might not be one of the SEC’s best teams, but it’s not from a lack of believing. And with Alabama coming to town fresh off being made to look very mortal by Ole Miss, the Razorbacks will surely speak with a noticeably louder oink this week.

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Previews 2014: Arkansas Razorbacks

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Previews 2014: Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas runs a smash-mouth, I-formation attack that puts a premium on running the football. It’s old-school, and definitely against the grain as far as trends go, but a pro-style attack only really works when a team has the talent to execute. Arkansas doesn’t. The Razorbacks are bereft of a competent passing game, and Bielema’s staff looked more than a little overwhelmed during its first season in the SEC.

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks in transition, Alabama looking for domination

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks in transition, Alabama looking for domination

For Alabama fans who appreciate nostalgia, they’ll get plenty of it when Arkansas comes to town this week.

Why? Because they’ll swear Danny Ford was back in Fayetteville.

Bret Bielema took over the Arkansas program this spring after John L. Smith was mercifully let go after a season that could justifiably be called the most disappointing – relative to expectations – in the history of Arkansas football. The Razorbacks were coming off a string of high-scoring seasons under Bob Petrino, and the program was threatening to punch into the elite of the SEC West.

And then Bob Petrino got in a motorcycle accident, got caught lying about an affair and was relieved of his duties as the Razorback head coach. The coach of the Hogs had been thrown off his Hog and was found to have been acting like a pig.

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