All signs point to an old-fashioned slugfest inside Jerry’s World on Saturday afternoon. Sam Pittman’s revived Razorbacks enter the weekend in hopes of beating the Aggies for the first time in nine years. Meanwhile, Texas A&M comes in ranked No.7 in the country to prove themselves against their first real test. Both teams have asserted their physical approach through three games. However, neither team has jumpstarted their passing game yet, which leads me to believe this game will be won in the trenches. Each team will potentially miss the play of a few key players on Saturday as well.
Let’s take a further look into the matchup as we approach the eve of game day.
The Aggies will be without quarterback Haynes King who was primed to be the team’s QB1 this season. Instead, Zach Calzada has wracked up 458 yards passing with four touchdowns and two interceptions since filling in for King in week two. Offensively, Isaiah Spiller is the Aggie to look out for on Saturday. Spiller has caused trouble for the Razorbacks in the past and will likely carry the load to start on Saturday.
Defensively, the Aggies have a physical and fast defense. The Texas A&M defense ranks first in the nation in scoring defenses through three games. However, the Aggies are tied for 88th in the country regarding rushing defense. Opponents have rushed for 486 yards and averaged 162 yards per game against the Aggies so far. Saturday should be the first real test for the Texas A&M defense.
It is still unclear if Arkansas offensive linemen Dalton Wagner and Ricky Stromberg will be ready to go come Saturday. Both players suffered an injury in the second half of last week’s matchup, which kept them out of practice this week. However, Sam Pittman and offensive line coach Cody Kennedy seem confident in depth built at offensive line. Except guys like Ty Clary and Shane Clenin to move around the offensive line if Wagner and Stromberg can’t go.
The run game will be a key to an Arkansas victory regardless of who is upfront on Saturday. The Hogs currently rank 8th in the country with 847 yards rushing through three games. Expect to see the variety of running backs unleashed on the Aggies early in the game.
Defensively, we all know the capabilities of Barry Odom and the Razorback defense. Many experts seem to think the Hogs won’t have the speed on defense to keep pace with the Aggie offense. I believe the Arkansas defense will be just fine in keeping this a low-scoring affair to give the offense ample opportunities to pull ahead. Keep an eye on the matchup in the middle when the Hogs are on defense. John Ridgeway will battle junior center Mike Matthews, which should be a fun matchup all day. Look for the Hogs to key on the run first to make Calzada beat them through the air.
Between the Aggie’s quarterback situation and the effectiveness of the Hog run game so far, I think this game will be won upfront. This game should boil down to which offensive line will open up the most holes and which defensive line will throw the bigger punch. So get excited, Hog fans. Saturday should be a good one.