Alabama Football: The key to the Arkansas game

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football: Crimson Tide fans know there is one key outcome on Saturday and it does not include the final score.

Alabama football players are not advised to play it ‘safe’ in games. There is no place for reluctance or timidity in football. Playing hard and playing fast are not considered to increase the risk of injury. Just the opposite is presumed, but going along with the presumption is a need to play smart.

Failing to tackle correctly can injure a defensive player. Disdaining a slide is usually foolish for a quarterback. Playing hard and playing smart is not contradictory.

Most Crimson Tide fans will agree the key to success on Saturday is no serious injuries to top players. Actually, any injuries to starters, that might keep them out of the SEC Championship game are to be avoided.

Evidenced by using DeVonta Smith to return punts, Nick Saban does not shy away from injury risk. Saban has always played his best players on special teams. The strategy has rarely backfired.

Purely from a player safety basis, it would be better for the Alabama football team to remain in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. A growing suspicion is data points based on the number of games played will have limited use by the CFBP Selection Committee. At 5-0, Ohio State may not participate in the Big Ten Championship game. The B1G may or may not change its own rule to benefit the Buckeyes. Either way, it remains possible a 5-0 or 6-0 Ohio State team might make the Playoff field over a 9-1 or 10-1 SEC team.

Our opinion is consistent with an earlier position. Playing a game on Sec. 12 makes no sense for the Crimson Tide or the Florida Gators.

The Crimson Tide is healthy (minus any COVID complications) going into Saturday’s game. The only current exception, other than the past injuries to Jaylen Waddle and Trey Sanders, is Xavier Williams. Williams has missed the last two games and his status against Arkansas is not known.

The Razorbacks have some serious injury concerns. Starting quarterback, Felipe Franks missed the last game with a rib injury. Sam Pittman’s top defensive player, Grant Morgan left the Missouri game with a knee injury. Also injured in the Missouri game was defensive back, Montaric Brown. Opt-outs and other injuries have caused the Razorbacks to be short-handed for weeks.

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Alabama football fans and the Crimson Tide will get an early start on Saturday. Hopefully, by mid-afternoon Saturday, it will be known there were no serious injuries.