Arkansas certainly got the job done last week when the Hogs took care of Texas in a remarkably dominant performance. The Razorbacks now have a paycheck game against Georgia Southern before they take on Texas A&M and the Georgia Bulldogs in back-to-back games.
By Matt Zemek
This is the last relatively easy game for the Razorbacks for about the next month. Things get demonstrably harder after this Georgia Southern game. The good news for the Razorbacks is that this game should enable them to take a mental breather before the bigger battles to come. Let’s take a look at the three keys to this game for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
1 – Don’t underestimate the opponent looking ahead to next week
Journalists can say it, fans can say it, but teams need to do the exact opposite. While most people already think Arkansas will win this game going away, the Eagles aren’t going to quit against the Razorbacks. The Sun Belt team from Georgia has a genuine Georgia man at the helm in Chad Lunsford. He grew up in the state and has been with Georgia Southern for two different stints. He knows how important this game is and what beating an SEC team would mean for his profile. It’s best for Arkansas to be prepared for anything against the Eagles, who will take this game very seriously. The Razorbacks won’t have as much energy as they did against Texas, but that doesn’t mean they can look past this game.
2 – Make the Eagles pay over three quarters
Arkansas can make life easier by simply loading up and coming after Eagles quarterback Cam Ransom. Ransom hasn’t played all that well this year; even Gardner-Webb held him to less than 100 yards passing on 13 attempts. Florida Atlantic took it to Ransom and held him under 100 yards on 21 passing attempts. Ransom isn’t the kind of quarterback who is going to beat Arkansas unless the Hogs beat themselves at the same time. The Razorbacks need to plug the run lanes, maintain gap discipline, and put pressure on Ransom all day. If they do that, they’ll do what everyone expects of them.
3 – Continue to mix it up
Razorback quarterback KJ Jefferson hasn’t even thrown for 300 yards on the season in both games combined. That could be because Arkansas didn’t need to open the playbook against the Longhorns, or it could be because Jefferson just isn’t ready. Either way, this is a perfect game to give him a little more of the workload without overwhelming him, and without having offensive coordinator Kendall Briles tipping his hand prior to the team’s run of really big games against quality SEC opposition. Not giving A&M or Georgia a lot of film to study is important. The Razorbacks will need more from Jefferson, and if he can’t provide that against Georgia Southern, it’s going to be a long year for the Razorbacks and second-year head coach Sam Pittman, in spite of the Texas win. The Hogs need more from their QB.