Arkansas might be coming off a two-game losing streak, but this team is a play away from being 5-1 halfway through the 2021 season.
By Matt Zemek
Sam Pittman has done a remarkable job as head coach of this program in just a few short years since taking over. This team is fun to watch and full of exciting players. Razorback quarterback KJ Jefferson is one of the nation’s best players. He has reminded some SEC observers of Cam Newton due to his size, ability to run, and his overall quarterback play. It’s a poor man’s Cam, but the comparison has emerged. The Hogs have a chance to get things on the right track and improve to 5-2 with a win over Auburn this weekend, so let’s take a look at what they’ll need to do to make that happen.
1 – K.J. Jefferson must play to his potential
There’s no denying that K.J. Jefferson is in the process of becoming a force with the Razorbacks. Not only does Jefferson complement their run game with his ability to scoot if needed; he’s also capable of picking apart the Auburn secondary if given time by his offensive line. Fortunately, Arkansas has some mashers up front, led by left tackle Myron Cunningham. If the O-line can hold off the front seven of the Tigers, K.J. Jefferson already knows how to make teams pay. He will put on a show worthy of some popcorn.
2 – The Razorback backfield must show up and show out
In the rushing game, Arkansas is No. 9 in the FBS. The team has 275 rushing attempts for 1,469 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. The Razorbacks average 244.8 rushing yards per game. That includes their clunker against Georgia, which means their rushing attack is probably even better than it looks on paper, which is really good. Arkansas’ best rusher is Trelon Smith, but he’s only a part of a larger attack which includes (and transcends) Jefferson. The Razorbacks kill opponents on the ground as a team rather than through one man, which makes it much harder to defend because defenses are not just targeting one guy, but rather an army of ball-carriers.
3 – Get after Bo Nix early and often
It sounds easy, right? Auburn is No. 16 in the nation in preventing sacks, a surprising reality for a suspect offensive line. Opposing teams have collected seven sacks across six games, losing a grand total of 55 yards. You can do the easy math: That’s roughly one sack per game. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, they’re not very efficient in gathering team sacks. Arkansas is No. 106 in the nation in team sacks. The Hogs have nine on the year, which works out to 1.5 sacks per game. They’re going to have to do better in this category if they hope to slow down Bo Nix and the Tigers’ offense.