Arkansas is certainly cooking in 2021. The Razorbacks kicked off the year with a comeback win over Rice and then followed that with a rivalry win over a typically hyped Texas Longhorn team.
By Matt Zemek
This past weekend the Razorbacks crushed Georgia Southern before their showdown this weekend with division rival and No. 7-ranked Texas A&M. If the Razorbacks can get the victory, it will give them a solid shot at finishing second in the SEC West behind Alabama if enough other plot twists work out in their favor. There’s a lot they’ll need to accomplish against A&M, but a win over the Aggies this weekend would certainly give their players the belief they could rise to the top tier of the SEC, which would mark a steep rise for a program which was in the gutter under Chad Morris a few short years ago.
1 – Make Jimbo Fisher question his own quarterback
Zach Calzada didn’t earn the starting spot for the Aggies. He got the spot when Haynes King was injured in the game against Colorado. Upon finding out that King had a fracture and needed time to heal, Calzada became the team’s de facto starter. If Arkansas can get after him, throw him around, hit him early and often, and frustrate him with disguised coverages, the Hogs stand a reasonable chance of winning this game. Calzada has made a number of mistakes and it’s likely he will make more in this game. This is how Arkansas can make Fisher question his own quarterback’s ability to run the whole playbook. If the Razorbacks can do that and disrupt A&M’s game plan, they can win.
2 – A&M has a two-headed beast at running back; slow it down
Whether it’s Devon Achane or Isaiah Spiller, the Aggies have two studs in the backfield. Either one is capable of burying Arkansas. Achane led the way against Kent State. Spiller led the way against New Mexico and neither guy stood out against Colorado. The hardest game A&M had out of those three was against Colorado. Maybe that can be chalked up to King going down with an injury and Calzada coming in, but what does it say about A&M that when the Aggies needed their backs to take some pressure off their quarterback and give him a chance to settle into the game, they were not capable of doing it against Colorado? It certainly illustrates that the Aggies have a lot of weaknesses on offense. If Arkansas can contain Achane and Spiller, it can win this game if UA generates enough offense.
3 – Feed Trelon Smith and use K.J. Jefferson
Razorback quarterback K.J. Jefferson has the ability to win games with his arms and his legs. When looking at Arkansas’ primary running back Trelon Smith, the Hogs have a big-time player. He’s capable of turning on the jets as well as shouldering the workload. If the Razorbacks are able to use both Jefferson and Smith in effective ways, they will be able to stretch the Aggie defense from sideline to sideline. That will give the Razorbacks a chance to keep A&M on its heels the entire game. It’s not a matter of getting just one of them going; the Razorbacks need them both to win. Feed the workhorses while making the opponent respect the quarterback’s arm and legs for 60 minutes. It will say a lot about Arkansas’ 2021 potential in the SEC West if Sam Pittman’s offense can do this against A&M.