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What You Need To Know As Arkansas Hosts Texas

Rice v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Arkansas Razorbacks host the 15th ranked Texas Longhorns inside a sold out Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be on ESPN at 6 P.M. and you can listen to your local Razorback Sports Network radio affiliate. This is the first time Razorback Stadium will be at complete capacity since 2017 against TCU and since the stadium’s new north endzone expansion was completed.

The excitement surrounding the game has been incredible in Fayetteville this week. There is so much hype and national media attention at this game that it feels like old times. Here are just a few of the media that will be here for the game:

Razorback fans will “stripe the stadium” on Saturday. Students have already said they will rush the field when the Hogs defeat the Longhorns. This is a fanbase that is a long-suffering over the previous ten seasons and are ready to just cheer a team with a winning record. If Arkansas wins this game they will have plenty of momentum and likely be 3-0 leading into the Texas A&M game in AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Although the Longhorns hold a 56-22 lead in the series the Razorbacks have won six of the last ten games played between the old Southwest Conference foes. The last game played between the two programs was the 2014 Texas Bowl when Arkansas won 31-7.

Texas wasn’t dominant last week but still defeated a ranked opponent in Louisiana out of the SunBelt last Saturday. The Longhorns played a clean football, limited turnovers but did commit seven penalties. Hudson Card threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns. His leading receiver and favorite target is sophomore, Jordan Whittington (6’1 203), who had 113 yards on seven receptions in last week’s win.

I’m the second half, the Longhorns were able to pull away similar to how Arkansas did against Rice. Both teams showed how much more talent and depth their teams than the respective opponents.

How will Texas’ redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card perform in his first road start?Fayetteville has a history of being a rowdy crowd but it’s been a minute since they’ve had a sold out stadium. Certainly the crowd will play a role in getting in the head of Card. It is hard on any young quarterback trying to direct his offense. It will be something to keep an eye one because Card will play a huge role in the game if he can silence the crowd.

What does Arkansas have at quarterback? KJ Jefferson struggled at times with his accuracy. Could it have been the juice of his first home start? First time starting quarterback jitters? Who in the world knows but he was much more effective and efficient in the second half of the game against Rice.

Texas knows that he displayed the ability to extend plays with his legs and will be watching out for the option. The Longhorns only gave up 76 yards rushing on 26 attempts but a lot of that was due to Louisiana slightly abandoning the run game trying to play catch-up. The Texas didn’t return a lot of experience from last years team but they do have plenty of star power in DeMarvion Overshown at linebacker and Keondre Coburn and Alfred Collins are a dynamic duo up front. What happens if somebody gets hurt though? There isn’t much depth there if Arkansas can burn them out by running the ball effectively.

Bijan Robinson will be the x-factor at running back for the burnt orange. At times last week Arkansas gave up runs of 3-5-7 yards at a time. If Arkansas can cold him to 100 yards or less the Hogs chances of victory jump big time and with Barry Odom at defensive coordinator you have to believe he has something drawn up on Saturday.

Staying on the defensive side of things there is a big question as to what Arkansas’ defensive line depth will look despite the injury to Dorian Gerald? Luckily, Arkansas gets John Ridgeway back at nose guard after he had an appendectomy procedure two weeks ago. Gerald broke his leg this week during practice which will end his season. Sophomore Zach Williams will move into the starting defensive end position down from Tre Williams.

Can they bring pressure to the freshman QB? Call them the “Law Firm” ….eh, that’s so catchy though. Those two bring plenty of speed on the edge and also have a duo at tackle in Ridgeway and Markell Utsey that can move the offensive line back, too. The Razorbacks should show more blitz packages if they were hiding them against Rice. Playing a 4-3 defensive look will help the pass rush and run defense.

Arkansas special teams woes reared its ugly head again last week with a blocked punt, a shank but the coverage was pretty good. It will need to step up a bit with the quality of a returner for Texas. Cornerback D’Shawn Jamison is blur returning kicks. He already has over 1,000 yards, two kick returns for touchdowns and a career 29.1 yard return average.

Will Treylon Burks be 100-percent healthy on Saturday? He played versus Rice but didn’t look like his normal self. Five receptions for 42 yards won’t beat Texas and the staff and Burks absolutely know that. They need their best player on the team to play above and beyond and look like the 2020 version of himself.

Arkansas third down efficiency wasn’t great against Rice. It looked similar to what they did last season. During the offseason I documented how third down efficiency hurt Arkansas in 2020. The Hogs were 3-for-11 on third downs and will need to figure out a way to fine themselves in more third and manageable spots and convert them against Texas.