The Arkansas Razorbacks continue on their slippery slope heading into the first SEC game of the 2015 season. The Razorbacks have been ineffective and inefficient so far this season both offensively and defensively. They will need to find the right balance this week if they want start out on the right footing heading into the SEC portion of their schedule.
The main concern for Arkansas will be the defense during the Texas A&M matchup. Especially the pass defense.
In the second week of the season, the Arkansas defense gave up 318 yards, 237 of which came through the air. Then last weekend, the Razorbacks allowed 486 yards against Texas Tech, 413 of which came in 15:45 of Texas Tech’s 23:17 time of possession.
Out of those 486 yards, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 243 of them on 26-of-30 passing. That is an astonishing 86.7 completion percentage, which is the highest the Razorbacks have allowed since 2013.
After allowing such a performance against Texas Tech, the Arkansas secondary will have to contend with Kyle Allen and company.
So far this season, Allen has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 594 yards, nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. Not only has Allen had a solid 2015 season thus far, but he has a wide variety of options to throw also.
Allen has several options at his disposal, including second-team All-SEC receiver Josh Reynolds, 6-foot-5 receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, 2014 All-SEC freshman receiver Speedy Noil and freshman Christian Kirk who burned the Arizona State Sun Devils for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Those four receivers will be in the Arkansas secondary’s hair all day come Saturday.
The offense for the Razorbacks will also need some work before they take on the Aggies in Arlington.
In their two losses this season, Arkansas has committed crucial turnovers and penalties at the most inopportune time. When the Razorbacks took on the Rockets of Toledo, quarterback Brandon Allen threw an interception that would lead to Toledo scoring the game-winning touchdown and giving Arkansas its first loss of the season. Also during the Toledo game, the Arkansas special teams committed a holding penalty that would wipe away a Razorback punt return touchdown.
Last weekend during the Texas Tech game, Arkansas turned over the ball twice in the second half after trading punch for punch in the first half. The Razorbacks also had a crucial touchdown that would have pulled them back into the game called back in the fourth quarter after an offensive pass interference penalty.
If Arkansas is able to get back their winning mentality and fix their issues on offense and defense, this game will be close and highly competitive. But if the Razorbacks enter the game dwelling on the past two weeks, the Aggies will bulldoze Arkansas to their fourth win of the season.
Keys to the Game for Arkansas:
Create turnovers: Turnovers made Texas A&M’s match-up with Nevada closer than what it seemed last week. The Aggies also committed three turnovers against Arizona State during week one. So if Arkansas wants to beat Texas A&M, they will need to force turnovers.
Get Collins running wild: In 16 SEC starts, Alex Collins has only rushed for 100+ yards twice. Both of those performances have came against the Aggies. If the Razorbacks have any sort of chance to beat Texas A&M, Collins needs to keep on improving like he has between Toledo and Texas Tech.
Regroup mentally: After losing two straight, Arkansas needs to be focusing on winning. Because if the Razorbacks dwell on those two straight losses, it will be a long day for Arkansas nation.
Prediction: Texas A&M 30 – Arkansas 24: Arkansas improves off their past two outings, but Texas A&M’s monster of an offense and defense is to much to handle for the Razorbacks.
Garrett Kroeger is an Arkansas Razorbacks and Cincinnati Bengals Staff writer studying Journalism and minoring in Sports Management at Iowa State. To get latest updates on the SEC and the Arkansas Razorbacks follow @spot_sec and @GKroegs.
Have questions about the Razorbacks and/or Bengals? Feel free to send him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org