The season opener is finally here! Let's take a look at what UTEP looks like.
The Miners from Texas-El Paso are an even more run-oriented team than the Hogs. In 2014 they ran 65.4% of the time and had one of the slowest paces of any team in college football. In this game that could be the key stat for everyone: no running out of bounds, incomplete passes or any of that clock stopping nonsense. Just run the clock down and keep this game to a nice compact 2 and a half hours and call it a day.
Bill Connelly Football Study Hall "UTEP was a slow, run-happy team, both because it wanted to be and because it had to be -- the passing game was awful. "
Here are a few questions that I would like to see answered in this game.
How do the changes in the interior offensive line look? Are there any missed blocks, confusion in pass protection? Denver Kirkland on the outside does not worry me at all, but watching Smothers at center and Ragnow at RG is key. Are there differences in the play action passing game that create easy throws for Brandon Allen? Also, does Allen check into the right play when UTEP sends an all out blitz? (They will.)
UTEP Offensive Identity:
Like I said this team is run heavy, but they do it a little different than Arkansas and the remaining pro style dinosaurs. UTEP is more in the hybrid offensive category of Ohio State, Auburn, or Mississippi St. They like to run two-back formations with 1 or 2 TEs the majority of the time. But those two-back formations will be dispersed in multiple ways including packages out of the shotgun, under center and pistol. They will run some read option/zone read.
Aaron Jones is the workhorse for UTEP. They will look to get Jones the ball in as many different ways as possible. Here out of a 21 look with jet sweep, Jones runs the inside zone counter and picks up 8 yards.
Jones has good vision and the ability to break tackles by lowering a shoulder or throwing the stiff arm. This guy will be a good judge of where the Arkansas linebackers are in their progression.
The wide receivers will not be a factor other than Autry Golden. His impact is more as a punt and kick returner where he had 2 TDs last season. When UTEP does throw, it will most likely be to a back out of the backfield, so I am not really expecting the Arkansas secondary to get much work this game.
Mack Leftwich was recently named the starter. The UTEP SB Nation site Miner Rush has more detail on the qb battle that carried all the way up to game week.
Overall this offense is solid up front and has a back in Aaron Jones that can move the ball a little on Arkansas. I would be surprised however if the UTEP offense has much success getting inside scoring territory.
They play a lot of man coverage and will run man pressure, dropping d lineman in zones. UTEP uses multiple fronts, even 4-3, 3-3 stack. They may be able to get some pressure on Brandon Allen by overloading the inside gaps, but this should lead to some big plays down field.
Predictions for UTEP:
This will be a quick game, so fans should be able to get out and watch the other matchups around CFB. The big thing for Arkansas is to look sharp, not have any turnovers, give the starters a good half of reps and put some of the other guys on the depth chart on the field.
Bielema is not the kind of guy who shows much mercy in these kind of games for overmatched opponents and his team is out to prove it can start off on the same level it finished 2014. Establishing Brandon Allen as an All-SEC QB, Alex Collins in the race for leading rusher in the SEC and sorting out a few things on defense are all priorities. Oh and get the win, which with the 1-0 mentality is all that matters. Woo Pig.