The Arkansas Razorbacks get one more chance to win their first SEC game of 2019. Chad Morris isn’t part of the picture anymore, but these players need a confidence boost to send them into the offseason. While this program searches for its next head coach, it needs to find something to build on and serve as a catapult into the 2020s.
By Matt Zemek
Obviously, the program needs to nail the head coaching hire, but players have to do their part while the coaches figure something out. If this current crop of players is to begin to build a stronger foundation in 2020, the journey starts here for the underclassmen.
The one source of hope for Arkansas is that its opponent on Friday, Missouri, has lost five straight games. The Tigers have been competent on defense but noticeably impotent on offense. From that realization comes a set of game keys for the Razorbacks on the final day of a forgettable season. Maybe they can make the last game something to remember and cherish.
1 – Keep the Tigers contained
Missouri managed just 181 passing yards and 99 rushing yards against Tennessee. The Tigers have averaged 9.4 points per game in their five-game losing streak. They were decisively outplayed by Vanderbilt and Tennessee, not just by Florida and Georgia. Missouri isn’t handling mediocre opposition as well as the top teams in the SEC East. This gives Arkansas a realistic chance of playing Missouri’s defense and not getting embarrassed. No one should expect Arkansas to flourish, but it is not ludicrous to think that Arkansas – which will probably give up a lot of yards – can stand tall in the red zone and force this below-average Missouri offense to make key third-down plays. If Arkansas gives up fewer than 30 points, its offense could be in position to win this game.
Let’s talk about that offense, next:
2 – Pick on Missouri’s secondary
The Tigers gave up 415 passing yards to Tennessee this past weekend. Let’s absorb that fact for a moment. Tennessee has had one of the poorer passing games in the SEC and the nation for several years. Tennessee’s quarterback situation has been volatile and unsettled for much of the 2019 season. If any team should NOT torch an opposing secondary, it is Tennessee. Yet, Missouri gave up a large quantity of passing yards. The Tigers do have something of an excuse, though. Two members of their secondary, cornerbacks Jarvis Ware and Adam Sparks, got injured against Tennessee. Senior cornerback DeMarkus Acy didn’t play in the game with an injury. Arkansas needs to throw, throw, throw the ball and stick with the passing game. It might find enough big plays to score 30 points and steal a win.
3 – No pansy punts
What does Arkansas have to lose? Why did it punt when trailing LSU by a large margin? Have fun, let it fly. There are no huge negative consequences to losing by 40 points instead of 25. Don’t worry about that. Go for it early and often. Draw up creative plays. Don’t play scared. Play freely, and allow this game to be fun instead of a chore. The season has been burdensome. Go Hog wild here and enjoy yourselves, Razorbacks!