The last time Alabama made the trip to Athens it created the identity of a program that would go on to win three national championships in four years and on the Crimson Tide’s latest visit they reclaimed it.
When Alabama took on Georgia the Crimson Tide was playing as a betting underdog for the first time since 2009. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said he wasn’t even aware Alabama wasn’t the favorite until he got to Athens.
“We felt we had to go out there and re-establish our identity and I thought we did a good job of that,” Allen said. “We expect that week-in and week-out. We hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
On Saturday the Crimson Tide demonstrated exactly what level of play the team can hold itself too when it beat Georgia 38-10. After the win Alabama found itself back in the top 10, checking in at No.8, and the Crimson Tide will start a new streak of being favored against the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend.
“We felt in the Wisconsin game we played really physical and got away from that the last couple of weeks,” Center Ryan Kelly said. “We knew going into it that it was going to be a smash-mouth game. That’s how we like it too. That was fun for us. Not saying pass blocking isn’t fun, but it was good to keep going after them on every play.”
It’s no secret that Alabama plays every season with conference and national titles on the line. For those dreams to stay alive Alabama needed to beat Georgia, and Kelly said the team prepares to play its best in critical situations.
Running back Derrick Henry set new career highs in both rush attempts, with 26 carries, and rushing yards picked up in a single game, with 147 rushing yards. Henry said he couldn’t have had that type of performance with great play from the offensive line.
“I thought they did a great job of just staying poised and just kept competing and kept pushing on,” Henry said. “I was just happy that I could give a spark and everybody was hyped about it.”
That spark most recently came in the form of a thirty yard touchdown run. Kelly said getting explosive plays out of the run game gives the offensive line a lot of confidence.
“It’s very special to be an offensive lineman in this offense,” Kelly said. “When you turn around and you see [No.] 2 running down the field and there are a storm of guys chasing him, that’s a good feeling. Those happen when you do your job.”
Coach Nick Saban and several Alabama players have thrown around the word identity so far this season. They said it’s something the team lost somewhere.
Kelly and Allen both said the team wanted to demonstrate that the team was better than it had played against Ole Miss. One loss didn’t end Alabama’s season, but one dominant victory won’t save it either. Kelly said leadership on the team will help determine how consistent the team can be going forward.
On the defensive side of the ball the team will have to be ready to shut down Arkansas running back Alex Collins. Allen said he thinks Collins is one of the best running backs in the SEC even though he is overlooked at times.
Allen also said the Razorbacks’ quarterback, Brandon Allen, has improved since last year.
“We’re going to have to really do a good job of focusing and trying to keep him in the pocket and make his throws from the pocket, instead of us scrambling out after him, because that’s where big plays usually are made,” Allen said.
Allen said playing Arkansas the week after Georgia should help the team since both teams play similar styles. Alabama’s offense might try to win this contest the same way rain or not.
“We want to run the ball, there’s no doubt,” Kelly said. Any time you play an SEC team they’re going to have a great defense. We’re going to rise up to the challenge and prepare all week for it.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports