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Arkansas vs Texas Tech Preview: 5 Keys to Razorback Victory

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Let's break down what the Hogs need to do to win

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

1. Run the football with consistency

This has been discussed plenty this week, but one more time for emphasis.

Arkansas is known for its running game, and the Hogs have continuously gone to the ground in their first two games. After two weeks, Arkansas is averaging 324 rushing yards per game and an incredible 9.4 yards per carry. Everybody knows about the Hogs’ three-headed monster of Alex Collins (23 carries, 207 yards, 3 TDs), Jonathan Williams (11 carries, 178 yards, 2 TD’s) and Korliss Marshall. Collins is averaging over 8 yards a carry and even more incredible than that, Jwill is currently averaging a video game-like 16.1 yards per carry. Getting a healthy Korliss Marshall back this weekend should also prove beneficial.

On the flip side, Texas Tech has struggled to stop the run against two vastly inferior running teams in UCA and UTEP. The Red Raiders are yielding 227.5 rushing yards per game and have allowed 6 rushing TD’s already. The Arkansas running backs and huge offensive line should be chomping at the bit to get going Saturday. The Hogs have been unbelievably efficient running the ball on first down (11.6 yards per carry), and if they can continue to ground and pound and chew up clock, they should have a great chance to win this weekend.

2. Take advantage of red zone opportunities

Football is often a game of few opportunities, so when a team does receive one, they have to take advantage of it. If and when the Hogs get into the red zone Saturday, they must leave with a score, and I’m talking touchdowns, not field goals. With Texas Tech’s ability to score points, 3 points per drive will likely not be enough. Lucky for Arkansas, the Red Raider defense hasn’t shown an ability to stop anyone in the red zone. Their first two opponents are a perfect 10/10 in red zone opportunities. Arkansas’ offense has also been very efficient in the red zone themselves so far going 8/9 on their chances.

3. Be efficient and smart in press coverage

The hiring of Robb Smith as defensive coordinator brought about "smart swarm" and ball disruption, but it also started the emergence of press coverage by Arkansas corners. Last year, Hog defensive backs would be 10-15 yards off of a receiver, leaving way too much cushion. That’s a thing of the past now. Texas Tech likes to throw a lot of quick passes predicated on timing. If the Hogs’ cornerbacks can get physical with the Red Raider receivers, it will throw the timing off of a lot of their routes. It will also allow Arkansas’ front four more time to get pressure on Tech quarterback Davis Webb.

4. Play smart and clean

Bret Bielema prides himself on having teams that don’t commit pre-snap or post-snap penalties and so far, this squad has done a decent job (11 penalties for 109 yards in two games). Kliff Kingsbury’s bunch, however, seems to lack that same discipline. Tech has been called for a whopping 25 penalties for 204 yards in its first two contests.

On top of penalties, Arkansas must protect the football and find ways to create turnovers on defense. So far this season, the Hogs have an even turnover margin while the Red Raiders' margin is -3.

5. Play physical

I believe Arkansas’ overall physicality will be the main advantage that allows them to win this football game. The Arkansas offensive line has around a 50 pound average advantage over Tech’s defensive line (318 lbs vs. 268 lbs). Both UCA and UTEP, who are both smaller and weaker than Arkansas, had success moving the ball on the ground against Tech’s defensive line. The Razorbacks should be able to manhandle Texas Tech up front and run the ball consistently on them.

Defensively, I think Arkansas’ athleticism with Trey Flowers, Darius Philon, and Taiwan Johnson should give Tech’s offensive line problems. Tech struggled with UTEP’s D-line at times, and I find it hard to believe that their defensive linemen are the caliber of Arkansas’. This matchup will come down to Arkansas’ ability to play physical for the whole 60 minutes.