Tomorrow is the day—Hogs and Horns on primetime TV with an electric atmosphere buzzing in the background. On top of that, two national college football pregame shows will be live from the University of Arkansas campus on Saturday morning. The hype of this game has reached its potential, and now it is time for the Hogs to show up and show out.
Here are a few keys to victory for all three facets of the game.
I don’t think much needs to be said in this department. The Hogs opened the season against Rice with another poor display of special teams. Unfortunately, it seems that we as fans have grown accustomed to poor special team’s play in recent years. On Saturday, the Razorbacks have to take care of the football and put together a solid special teams’ effort if they want to find themselves within striking distance when the fourth quarter rolls around. I would like to see Scott Fountain cut out the cute elements and put together a dependable game plan like we know he can do.
Barry Odom’s unit put together a solid performance in week one. The offense was slow out of the game against Rice, but the Razorback defense did enough to keep the team in the game. Defensively, the key to a victory on Saturday will be limiting Longhorn tailback, Bijan Robinson. Last week, Robinson rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries in a 38-18 win against the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns. Freshman quarterback Hudson Card threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Card will enter an atmosphere on Saturday night like no other he has ever seen. Look for the Hogs to key in on the run early. I think the Hogs have an excellent chance to find themselves in the win category if Robinson is held under 100 yards rushing.
Three players to carry the Hog defense on Saturday:
Jalen Catalon- This week, Catalon received praise as arguably the best defensive back in the SEC and for a good reason after two interceptions last week. However, he has to stay in the game and make his presence felt from the secondary on Saturday night.
John Ridgeway- Let’s hope Ridgeway is back to strength after missing last week due to an appendectomy procedure. The Hogs lost senior Dorian Gerald to an ankle injury during practice this week. Ridgeway needs to fill in and live up to the hype he brought with him from Illinois State to give the Hogs a chance on Saturday.
Andrew Parker: The redshirt junior filled in nicely at linebacker after Grant Morgan was ejected in the first quarter of the Rice game due to a targeting penalty. Parker’s workload increased when Bumper Pool was removed in the second half for the same penalty. Parker will need to match his efforts from week one to help the Razorback defense stop the Texas run game.
The offense seemed a little lost against the Owls last Saturday. However, the unit picked up the tempo and found a rhythm in the second half. KJ Jefferson and Trelon Smith rushed the ball well to open up a few big pass plays. Senior receiver Tyson Morris was a reliable target for Jefferson on two big plays that shifted the game’s momentum. On Saturday, let’s hope Kendall Briles utilizes the run game first to open up the passing game over the top.
Three players to carry the Hog offense on Saturday:
KJ Jefferson- There is no doubt KJ has to play well tomorrow night for the Hogs to win. He rushed the ball well last week. Additionally, he threw the ball well downfield, but the long pass game didn’t appear until the second half of last week. Look for the offense to roll the pocket and create ways to allow Jefferson to use his feet.
Treylon Burks- We didn’t see much out of Treylon last week against the Owls. Sam Pittman said this week that Burks is fully healthy going into tomorrow night. Make no mistake; big-time players show up in big-time games. Expect a lot from Treylon tomorrow night.
The O-Line: The boys up front put together a fair showing in week one. But this week will be a huge test. I hope to see the unit win the battle in the trenches to open up designed runs for Jefferson and Smith. Also, eliminating penalties will give the Hogs an even greater chance to win tomorrow night.
Graham Smithson is the newest writer for Arkansas Fight. Give him a follow on Twitter @GrahamSmithson!