AT&T STADIUM, Arlington, Texas 11:00 am, ESPN
ESPN FPI – A&M 93.3 chance to win
Texas A&M – Scores 33.3 points per game
Arkansas – Scores 29 points per game
Seven and a half years of the worst Arkansas football in history. We have all heard “It’s a process…it’s a process,” but how long will Hog fans keep buying tickets to watch a process? We need a statement, and we need it now! Let’s finally beat A&M and prove once and for all that we belong in the SEC. Arkansas has not beaten A&M since they joined the SEC.
On paper these two teams match up fairly well: every stat is close, even the record. When watching them play, it’s another story.
Yards Allowed Per Game:
Texas A&M – 267
Arkansas – 410
Arkansas starter Nick Starkel, who lost his starting spot to Junior QB Kellen Mond at A&M before transferring, has a big game ahead of him. After a horrible five interception performance against SJSU, Starkel says he was not focused, and that it will not happen again. After his first time having a good 4th quarter performance (against CSU), which gave him the starting nod, that following game was a Top 5 worst loss for the program. Arkansas will need to get their head right quickly to have a chance for the first SEC win for coach Chad Morris and the program as a whole. With A&M being a 23.5 point favorite in the game, Arkansas faces an uphill battle this week.
Nick Starkel will need to “sparkle” again this week in order for the Hogs to have a chance in Arlington. 7 touchdowns look good before you get to his 6 interceptions, which 5 came against SJSU. Read the coverage and don’t throw off your back foot, causing high passes. Against SJSU, the first pass was high, and throughout the game, the passes continued to sail high from the young QB. We will, for sure, need a 350 plus yard passing game with at least 3 TDS to have a chance against the Aggie defense. Whaley is slowly coming back into himself, but we will need Boyd to put on a show (even with this weak offensive line). These two will need to have a great game and get our offensive line on the same page. With an offense averaging 440 yards per game, Arkansas will need over 500 yards to pull out the first SEC victory in the Chad Morris era. While we have seen some great things from freshman receiver Trey Knox, we need to see more until other receivers step up. He has under 300 yards receiving and just two touchdowns this season. A&M has only allowed under 300 yards per game, so the Hogs will have to come out with something special. Let’s hope Chad Morris has opened up the offensive playbook by now and will get into the play calling more himself.
Lately, we are falling into the same issues we have been dealing with for years. Recently we have had the injury bug fall on some of outside lineman, but there was no reason why SJSU should have been able to push them around so much. Let’s hope that they get their pep back in their step this week and get off the ball like they mean it. Earn that scholarship and push them around as an SEC team should do. Fire off that ball, and let’s get that snap to Starkel just a little faster to try to give him some time.
After a bad game for the defense last week, Arkansas most certainly has something to prove. With Sosa Agim not really making his presence known, as we all thought he would, he will need some additional support from the rest of the defensive line. We all know that A&M is going to double team him any chance they get and force someone else to make a play. The last thing they are going to want is for him to come out on fire and give the linebackers space to cause real havoc.
Mond is the kind of QB that should be of great concern to Arkansas because of his ability to tuck the ball and run when needed. He is 94/146 with 1082 yards at passing with 340 yards on the ground. Mobile QBs have been the Achilles heel for the Hogs for many years. This total is almost what he had for the entirety of last season, so expect him to not be afraid to take off running on this young defense.
Mainly because of lack of speed on defense, we will need to dial up some blitzes to confuse this offense and get some pressure in his face. Our secondary truly did not look as bad as everyone thought last week. Yes, there were blown coverages and too many plays that broke out into the open, but they are showing signs of getting better. There cannot be another game where we fall asleep so early.
Expect A&M to come out like everyone else: wanting the ball first and going deep early and often to test this secondary. Best case scenario, Cam Curl and Fouche will get an early interception to stop this plan in its tracks. We will have to make a big statement early on for the defense to have a chance in this game.
As much as Razorbacks fans would love to get that first SEC win under Chad Morris and finally end the woes of SEC play, I do not see it coming this week. Jumbo Fisher is coming off a devastating loss and playing the deflated Hogs, he should come out with a victory this week. Unfortunately, Hog fans will have to wait a little longer for the first SEC win.
Texas A&M 56, Arkansas Razorbacks 24
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports
Co-Host of Thursday night live show “The Sports Junkies” along side Steve Hinson