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Saturday, September 24, 2011
Test time for Hogs, Tide

By Chris Low

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s a picture-perfect day at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The sun’s out. There’s a little breeze in the air, and here in a little bit we find out a lot about Alabama and Arkansas’ football teams.

If Arkansas is going to win this game, the Hogs will almost certainly have to hit some big plays in the passing game. Alabama’s defense is too good to expect a lot of long scoring drives. The Crimson Tide lead the country with 21 three-and-outs.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said this week that Arkansas’ top four receivers were the best set of receivers on any one team in college football.

You talk to a lot of people around the league, and there's a growing feeling that Arkansas’ Joe Adams is perhaps the SEC's best playmaker in the open field since Florida’s Percy Harvin.

The Hogs will certainly make every effort to get the ball to Adams in space today, and he’s also returned two punts for touchdowns this season.

The jury is still out on how far back Greg Childs is after missing the last part of last season with a torn patellar tendon. He missed last week’s game because of the death of his grandmother and was pretty quiet in the first two games.

Childs is a stretch-the-field guy, and the Hogs could also use a big game from him to help soften up that Alabama defense.

This is also a prove-it-to-me game for Alabama’s secondary, which was a liability at times last season because of inexperience, but has been one of the most improved units on the team so far this season.

Teams are completing just 38.5 percent of their passes against Alabama’s defense, which leads the country.

Alabama junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, whose improved consistency has mirrored that of the entire secondary, knows what’s coming Saturday.

“This is one of those games where as a kid you dreamed of having the ball thrown your way,” Kirkpatrick said. “I know they’re going to try me, and they have great receivers. But I’m going to be ready for whatever they throw at me.”