Arkansas had a pair of senior offensive tackles a year ago to help fend off Alabama’s pass rush.
This season, one of the Hogs’ tackles is a true freshman, Mitch Smothers, and don’t think for a minute the Alabama defenders haven’t noticed.
Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower was asked about Arkansas’ offensive line on Tuesday and remarked that he thought the Hogs were better run-blockers up front this season. He then mentioned Smothers, although not by name.
“The freshman they have coming in and playing is doing a really good job right now,” Hightower said. “I feel like we’re going to have to use that to our advantage whenever it comes down to pass-rushing situations. Me and Courtney [Upshaw] are probably going to have to go after that guy a little bit more.”
Hightower and Upshaw both line up outside on passing downs. Alabama has recorded just four sacks in its first three games, while Arkansas allowed three sacks last week in its 38-28 win over Troy.
Hightower said Alabama’s pass rush has been OK, but he also hinted that more was coming.
“We’re doing a decent job of getting pressure on the quarterback as far as making him feel uncomfortable and letting him know we’re in his face or right behind him or putting pressure on him,” Hightower said. “We’re doing a really good job of that, but we still have some things in our arsenal that we haven’t let out yet.
“I’m excited to get out there where we can do that. It’s going to be real fun going against a lot of these good quarterbacks and a lot of these good offensive linemen. It’s going to be real fun these next couple of weeks.”