Arkansas faces Texas A&M on Saturday in Fayetteville. Here are your three keys to an Arkansas win over Texas A&M.
The Arkansas Razorbacks had seemingly found some hope when they sped past Colorado State in the fourth quarter in Week 3. They had scored 55 points. Their offense found a groove. Chad Morris had a game – and a film session – to show to his players which proved they could succeed.
Hope has been in short supply in Arkansas over the past several years. Ever since Bobby Petrino’s ill-fated motorcycle misadventure, and everything it unleashed, the Razorbacks have been a mess. The win over Colorado State briefly opened the door to a room in which optimism resided.
That door slammed shut after only one week.
The Arkansas offense which found a spark against Colorado State went dormant for nearly three full quarters at home against San Jose State. The Razorbacks mounted a charge in the fourth quarter, but it was too little and too late. An embarrassing home-field defeat sent the Hogs into the teeth of their SEC season with a dispiriting moment which abruptly halted the good feelings generated by the Colorado State win. It is back to the drawing board against Texas A&M in the annual neutral-site game played in UA alumnus Jerry Jones’ stadium.
Key 1 – Create an early rhythm
Arkansas was not prepared against San Jose State. The offense snoozed in the first half and was outclassed in every conceivable way. Effort, precision, adjustments, reads, urgency – the Razorbacks brought nothing to the table. The finer nuances of tactics and play selection aren’t irrelevant in this game, but they certainly are secondary to the basic need to look and act like a real football team. Arkansas’ offense has to play with energy and crisp, integrated focus from the very start. Morris has to convey a message that what happened against San Jose State is unacceptable… and the players need to respond accordingly.
Key 2 – Jump on routes
If Arkansas wants to play conservatively on defense, the idea makes complete sense. Force A&M quarterback Kellen Mond to make a lot of throws on drives. Demand that he convert several third and fives. Don’t get beaten deep. It is sensible.
Yet, if Arkansas wants to win this game and not merely keep it close, the Razorbacks can’t always sit back. They need to jump on short routes and bait Mond into making bad decisions… which is something he still does. Squatting on a route and getting a pick-six is what can win this game for Arkansas. The Hogs need to take advantage of Mond’s weaknesses in this contest.
Key 3 – Standing strong
The A&M-Arkansas series has been wild and crazy. So many Aggie-Hog games have had remarkable plot twists and abrupt turnarounds. Let’s say Arkansas gets on a roll at some point in this game and has a real chance to win or at least take the game deep into the fourth quarter with some hope of victory. If that scenario occurs, the Hogs need to not gift-wrap points or yards or a first down to A&M. Making the Aggies earn whatever they get has to be a central priority for Arkansas.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). Watch on the ESPN Network.
This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis
|Game||First Looks||3 Keys|
|Ole Miss vs. Alabama||Bama / Ole Miss||Preview||Bama 59, Ole Miss 31||Stats|
|Texas A&M vs. Arkansas||Arkansas / A&M||Arky / A&M||Preview||A&M 31, Arky 27||Stats|
|Mississippi State vs. Auburn||Auburn / MSU||MSU||Preview||Auburn 56, MSU 23||Stats|
|Towson vs. Florida||Towson||Florida||Preview||Florida 38, Towson 0||Stats|
|Kentucky vs. South Carolina||USC / UK||USC||Preview||USC 24, UK 7||Stats|
|N Illinois vs. Vanderbilt||UNI||Vandy||Preview||Vandy 24, NIU 18||Stats|