An important early contest for Arkansas here as the Hogs get their SEC campaign started early in Week 2 this year. The opponent is a South Carolina team coming off of a 35-14 win over a Georgia State squad that is better than you think.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to a Razorbacks victory:
Beware of a Slow Start
The game against Cincinnati had been focused on for months, with Arkansas facing a ranked opponent in Week 1. Cincinnati isn’t quite what it was last year, but it will still win a ton of games, and Arkansas was able to overcome the Bearcats with a gutsy 31-24 win.
Next up is a South Carolina team that has been no better than decent – and often pretty bad – in the SEC over the last decade. It is an easy spot for a letdown, so the Hogs have to make sure that they come out with the right attitude here.
Special Teams Must be on Point
Beamer Ball 2.0 is really taking place in Columbia. It is funny how the identity of a team can stick through the years, but the special teams’ ethos is alive and well as South Carolina used all three phases of the game to beat Georgia State.
The score was just 20-14 in favor of the Gamecocks with 5:20 to play in the third. That is when South Carolina had its first of two blocked punts for touchdowns in the last 20 minutes of the game, taking the air out of the Panthers in the process. Arkansas punt protection will have to be at its best against a unit that knows how to get after the ball on special teams.
Get After Spencer Rattler
Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler was not good against Georgia State. Yes, he threw for 227 years, but he was just 23-of-37 through the air with two picks to his one touchdown. His QBR was a miserable 28.6 percent, and he doesn’t add anything with his legs to keep a defense off balance.
Rattler can be pressured into mistakes and a constant flurry of check-down passes. Getting in the face of the Gamecocks quarterback is the easiest route to victory for Arkansas on Saturday.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). You can watch this SEC football game on the ESPN Network.