Ready or not, here it comes.
Arkansas’ gauntlet of a schedule has finally made its way here starting with the tenth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies coming to Razorback Stadium on Saturday.
The loss to Rutgers last week puts the Hogs at 3-1 and may have diminished expectations for the rest of the year. Arkansas could’ve been 4-0, possibly ranked, and had a ton of confidence heading into this game which would have made it a marquee matchup.
Instead, the Razorbacks blew a 17-point lead against the Scarlet Knights and for the rest of the season desperately look for a chance at another win.
- Long snapper Alan D’Appollonio received SEC special teams player of the week honors. D’Appollonio caught a pass off of a fake punt for 26 yards against Rutgers and also recorded a tackle during the game.
- This will be the last time that these two teams will face each other on either home campus for at least ten years. The contract for the schools to play in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium starts in 2014 and runs through 2024.
- CBS has put the Arkansas-Florida game on hold for possible broadcast of the game as a part of their 2:30 “SEC game of the week”. CBS is also choosing between Ole Miss- Auburn and Georgia-Tennessee to fill the spot.
- Quarterback Brandon Allen looks doubtful again this game as he didn’t attempt to throw during Wednesday’s practice. A.J. Derby is likely to make his second straight start as Allen will be listed again as a game-time decision.
- Wide receiver D’Arthur Cowan should get his first opportunity to play this year after suffering a broken foot during summer practices. He had his first full practice on Tuesday and should be good to go on Saturday.
- Safety Rohan Gaines has been practicing all week as he is finally healthy after suffering a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette. Gaines will start on Saturday.
Knowing Your Opponent:
Texas A&M University is located in College Station, Texas and recently joined the SEC in 2012 from the Big 12 along with Missouri. They are coached by Kevin Sumlin who now has a 14-3 record at A&M and a 49-20 record overall. The Aggies are coming off a top ten finish from last year and have the reigning Heisman trophy winner, Johnny Manziel as their quarterback. The Aggies are 3-1 with their only loss coming against top-ranked Alabama, 49-42.
After the disappointing loss last week, this game has certainly lost its luster. However, that doesn’t mean that the Hogs don’t stand a chance.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, then you’ve heard of A&M’s quarterback Johnny Manziel. He continues to put up video game like numbers no matter what defense he faces and is the main reason why A&M has been so successful.
So for the Razorbacks to stand any sort of chance against the Aggies, they have to find a way to slow him down.Even Nick Saban had an entire offseason to prepare for Manziel and he still torched the Tide’s defense by racking up 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.
So how can you stop Manziel?
The answer is pretty simple actually. Manziel can only score if he’s on the field, so essentially keep him on the sidelines and he can’t hurt you.
This actually plays right into how Bielema wants to dominate the time of possession during a game and should be attainable for the Razorbacks.
More good news for Arkansas is that Texas A&M’s run defense has been horrible this season. They are ranked 106th in the country by allowing 218 rushing yards a game. They gave up 306 rushing yards to Rice. Yes, even Rice racked up a substantial amount rushing yards against the A&M defense.
Arkansas’ rushing attack anchored by Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams should take advantage of this and both put up incredible numbers.
However, this can only happen if A.J. Derby can execute on key passing plays. Without the threat of a passing game, A&M will stack the box and dare Derby to throw just like all of Arkansas’ other opponents have done. Becoming one-dimensional is something that cannot happen if the Hogs want stand any kind of chance on Saturday.
If Arkansas can keep Manziel off the field by having long, sustainable scoring drives, they will keep this game close. The Razorbacks won’t beat the Aggies if the game turns into a shootout. The Aggies’ offense is just too good and Arkansas’ is not made to put up a lot of points fast.
Arkansas is a big underdog in the game so they might as well throw everything at the Aggies. Maybe use some more trick plays or throw crazy alignments and blitzes at Manziel to keep him off guard. No one is giving the Razorbacks any chance to win so honestly, what do they have to lose?
The Arkansas football team needs to do whatever they have to do to keep it close until the fourth quarter, because when it gets to that point anything can happen.
If Arkansas can keep it at least competitive, it will boost confidence heading into the remaining schedule. A repeat game of last year game in which the Aggies blew out the Hogs 56-10, and it will be a long, long rest of the season.
While the solution to stopping Manziel seems simple, it is a lot easier said than done. If the Crimson Tide couldn’t figure out a way to stop him, Arkansas won’t either.
The Aggies offense will be too much for the Hogs to handle on Saturday and Manziel should put up huge numbers yet again. Aggie receiver Mike Evans will more than likely have another monster game and while the A&M defense has struggled early, they find a way to stop the crippled offense of Arkansas.
The Hogs score early against A&M, but the Aggies become too much to handle in the second half;
Arkansas- 24 Texas A&M- 49
The game is a sell out so Razorback Stadium will be rocking on Saturday night. The Hogs will need home-field advantage and all of the help that they can get if they want to pull off the upset. Arkansas leads the all-time series agiainst A&M 41-25-3. Kickoff for the old Southwest Conference foes is set for 6 p.m.