clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Huddle: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

New, 101 comments

It's a contrast of styles and it is a non-conference game that two fanbases have been looking forward to since the game was announced. We take a long look at the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas Throttled Nicholls State. I don't know how good or how bad Nicholls State actually is, but Arkansas won, 73-7. They were terrific against an inferior opponent. The Razorbacks ran for 495 yards, over 12 yards a touch, led by Jonathan Williams, with just 4 touches and 143 yards and Alex Collins had 13 carries for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. Really, just a dominant effort and starting quarterback Brandon Allen only had to throw 5 passes while he was in the game for 117 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yes, every single completion was for a touchdown. And that was just the offense.

Game Information
Arkansas
vs.
Texas Tech

When: September 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium | Lubbock, Texas
Watch: ABC
Key Injuries: Tony Morales

Nicholls State only managed 208 yards on 43 passing attempts. Beaux Hebert got the start and is son of Bobby Hebert, the quarterback for the Saints, and he was 9 of 13 for 103 yards and that was about it. Nicholls State ran for 34 total yards, although the other quarterback that played for the Colonels was a terrible rusher or was sacked 8 times. Either way, Arkansas dominated. The Colonels only managed 3 of 17 on third down and Arkansas only punted 1 time.

We really don't need to get into how this game means something to these head coaches. This is maybe a game about philosophy more than anything else and both head coaches are very much dug in their ways. Bielema is a guy that believes in smash-mouth football, running between the tackles and grinding out wins. Meanwhile, Kliff Kingsbury is interested in going as fast as possible and running as many plays as possible and moving the ball (theoretically) down the field, as quickly as possible.

Bielema has alleged that the faster a team plays, the more likely a team has more injuries, but he hasn't cited any study or anything, just supposition. To each his own, I suppose.

More than anything, this sets up to be a battle of styles more than anything else and this game has probably been built up as such through the week. I typically start writing this preview on Sunday and it wouldn't surprise me to see that this game has been blown out of proportion in terms of style versus style as the week has progressed.

Auburns Stops Arkansas. I think that's the correct way to write this, which is that Auburn's defense really appeared to be terrific for this first game of the year. Arkansas only managed 153 yards on 28 carries through the game. Not only that, but Auburn controlled the game, rushing 48 times for 302 yards and ran up over 600 yards of total offense. Arkansas appeared to be in this game relatively early, but as Nick Marshall came off of his suspension (I could have sworn he was suspended for the entire game, but that didn't stick).

I would guess that stopping Arkansas is almost as much about controlling the ball and being an efficient scoring team more than anything else. And yes, the defense did struggle against Auburn, but I'm guessing that this will be problematic for Texas Tech.

Q&A With Arkansas Fight. Much thanks to the folks at Arkansas Fight for taking the time to talk a little about the game on Saturday.

1. Arkansas has one terrific win against Nicholls State where things never appeared in doubt and a game against Auburn where it was close initially, but Auburn won big. What are your general thoughts about this team?

So far it is too tough to judge because the competition has been so severe in both directions. I middle of the road team doesn't learn a lot playing the national runner-up and then and FCS school on a seven game losing streak. This game is the make or break game of the season for Arkansas. They must win this game if they want a chance to go to a bowl game.

2. You're planning the game plan, what's the one big thing that you want to do offensively and one big thing defensively that you want to do on Saturday?

Offensively, power run it down TTU's throat. It doesn't sound like that has been very hard to do for most teams, but that is the one thing this offense is extremely good at. Defensively, I would say force two turnovers. I have no faith in this defense to get any stops, but two turnovers would insure a victory.

3. At this point, do we really care all that much about the HUNH stuff or are you all past this part of this rivalry?

No and it is painful to have to continue to hear about it. People have different styles. Could you imagine what twitter would have been like when people went from the wishbone to I-formation (aka real American Football)?

4. This is a selfish question. Sometimes I like to ask what folks outside the program think of thing, so I'm interested as to your general perception of Kingsbury as a coach?

He seems like a poor man's Kevin Sumlin right now. Flashy offense, but defense costs him two or three wins a season. The biggest thing is that he is an alumni who gets your fan base. He knows what it takes to make TTU successful and has a plan in place to do it. However, if he could find a way to get a great defensive coordinator on staff and let that guy do his thing, you guys could be a 10 win program. Hell, Baylor did it buy getting just a mediocre defense.

Uniform Tracker. Because at the heart of it all, VTM is a fashion blog.

Uniform Tracker
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result Photo Photo Credit
Central Arkansas W, 42-35 Michael C. Johnson -
USA Today Sports
UTEP W, 42-35 John West

Click photos to embiggen.

Quotes

I couldn't find just one press conference, but did find some quotes of the coaches and players after practice on their site, from September 9th and September 10th.  The first is from the Arkansas defensive line coach who talks a bit about one of their best players, Taiwan Johnson as well as the quick play of the Texas Tech offense:

Arkansas defensive line coach Rory Segrest on Taiwan Johnson's play: "The thing about Taiwan is he's an attention-to-detail guy. He tries to do things the way you ask him to do it. He's explosive. He's got some good quickness. He gives us some options inside. From a movement standpoint we can do some things with him there."

Segrest on Texas Tech's offense: "They do some different things. They've got some really good skill guys and they try to get the ball in their hands. They will run some quick plays and they will also try to stretch the field. We've just got to make sure we're consistent, attacking the line of scrimmage and stopping the run first."

Nothing earth-shattering there, but I would really watch Johnson.  Next, we get Arkansas QB Brandon Allen, who talks about the Texas Tech defense as well as the cornerbacks:

Arkansas Quarterback Brandon Allen on Texas Tech film: "They have a good defense and they tackle well. They have a couple young corners out there, but they do a lot of good things. They do well on defense, so it's going to be up to us and our execution to go score on them."

Allen on Texas Tech cornerbacks: "They're young guys, but they play well. One of them is pretty tall and has good size. The other one runs really well. They're doing good things for them. Their inexperience is probably the weakness. We have a little more experience at the wide-out position and we hope to use that."

Up next, we pick up from earlier this week, where we hear Kingsbury talk a bit about how the offense isn't where it is supposed to be and Texas Tech hasn't played their best game, similar things that he said prior to the Arizona St. game:

Q. After watching the field, what did you think about the offense's performance with Davis, too?

COACH KINGSBURY: Not where we need to be. Four three-and-outs, I don't think we had that many in probably a three-game stretch last year. So that's a key to our offense is staying on the field and making first downs. It's all fixable. It's all easy plays there to be made. Either we miss a throw, don't catch it, don't block, we get a hold, so the same things keep popping up. It's early, and we're not supposed to be at our best yet, and I know it's coming. They're working hard. The effort is one thing that's standing out on film. They're playing hard. We're just not making the right decisions all the time, and we have to get better.

Up next is Davis Webb, who acknowledges that he's missing throws, some of it having to do with footwork.

Q. Are you feeling harried in the back when you take the snap in does sometimes it looked like the poise I saw wasn't there yet. Are you feeling rushed?

DAVIS WEBB: No, I feel like I put too much pressure on myself, worrying about things I can't control. Last game my footwork wasn't there all the way. I think it's something me and Coach Kingsbury worked on really hard this week just being settled in the pocket and get better at that. Because if my footwork is a little off, my throw is going to be a little off. There are some throws in that game that I missed that I never miss in practice and stuff like that. So just having that transition in the practice field, just making sure that happens. But I feel like we'll have a good week of practice and definitely harp on that for Saturday.

I think I've written all I can about Webb this week, that he's not a finished product, as much as we might want him to be right now.  I still don't get the Taylor Potts 2.0 comments, especially since Potts had 3 years on the bench to learn, while Webb is still pretty green all things considered.  The one thing that I admit is that I really want these guys to succeed.  That's my biggest problem, if you can call that a problem.  I want to predict that these players will do well rather than poorly and I also tend to be really careful about labeling players too early.  That probably makes me awful at predictions, but I think it is because I enjoy the ride.  Predicting games is my least favorite thing to do because I really don't have a clue. I almost never have an accurate hunch, I just want my team to win.

Up next is Kenny Williams talked about how having some of the other defensive linemen play is beneficial and they are going to have to rotate those players this week.

Q. Talk about the defensive line. Obviously with Jackson out and Rika out and some of those guys stepping up, talk about the defensive line.

KENNY WILLIAMS: The defensive line knew exactly what they needed to do. Rika's out, so we had to have guys step up, like Anthony Smith, Marcus Smith, Keland McElrath, and you know, for this up and coming week we'll have those guys back like Jackson Richards. We're going to have to, I believe, we're going to have to rotate the D-line in and out, so they're going to have to mentally stay focused the whole week and be ready to get in when their name is called.

Stats

Stat
Total Offense 506.0 (31) 570.0 (11)
Rushing Offense 324.0 (11) 205.0 (50)
Passing Offense 182.0 (101) 365.0 (9)
Scoring Offense 47.0 (14) 36.0 (48)
Total Defense 418.5 (89) 399.5 (78)
Rushing Defense 168.0 (87) 227.5 (107)
Passing Defense 250.5 (89) 172.0 (32)
Scoring Defense 26.0 (72) 30.5 (94)
Turnover Margin 0.00 (55) -1.50 (104)
3rd Down % Off. 50.0 (48) 45.5% (53)
3rd Down % Def. 38.7 (75) 31.4% (40)
Yds/Play Def. 5.94 (99) 4.61 (41)

The toughest thing to consider is exactly what team Texas Tech will be facing. You have two games, polar opposites for the most part and averaging the two, you really get a middling defense for Arkansas. The big thing to consider is that in one game, they gave up a ton of points, 45 to Auburn and only 7 to Nicholls State. That still gets a defense that allowed quite a few yards from a passing perspective and a rushing perspective.

The one variable is that I'm not sure how much the dual threat of Auburn played into what Arkansas was or wasn't able to stop. Still, with a small sample size, the Texas Tech offense should feel pretty good about what they "can" do if they can be more consistent.

Offensively, this is similar to what UTEP presented in that Drew Allen isn't the best or most adept passer, but I'm guessing he's going to be significantly more competent than Jameill Showers was. Allen does complete 61% of his passes and has a nice touchdown to interception ratio of 6:1 (it's really early and a ton of those came against Nicholls State.

There's not much more to get into considering the Texas Tech defense going up against the Arkansas offense. This will be a war of wills in a sense and like most of you, Texas Tech will very much need to make schematic changes if they expect to stop Arkansas.

Tweets

This makes the most sense.

If you haven't given Joe a follow on Twitter, you need to do so. Hardest working man in college basketball.

Can't wait to find out more about the Red Raider Reach program.

Five Things

1. Three Players to Watch on Offense for Arkansas.

RB Alex Collins (5-11/216): Collins is a bruising running back that is averaging near 100 yards a game thus far in the season and I'm pretty sure he doesn't even start. That's the other guy that's averaging less yards a game. Collins doesn't exactly have a ton of touches, at least not what I would expect, only 23 carries thus far in the season.

RB Jonathan Williams (6-0/223): In just 11 carries, Williams is averaging 16 yards a carry and from what I can tell, he is the starter. Both running backs are big, but thus far Williams appears to be the slightly bigger of the two, but has more big play potential. After things settled down last year, both Collins and Williams each averaged about 5.5 or 6.0 yards a rush.

TE Hunter Henry (6-6/251): Arkansas doesn't really have a ton of passing stats thus far, but Henry was a preseason All-SEC pick at tight end and that's one thing that I think could really hurt Texas Tech and one thing that I think that QB Branden Allen could look to just nibble and pick at Texas Tech to tag along with Collins and Williams.

2. Three Players to Watch on Defense for Arkansas.

DE Trey Flowers (6-4/267): Another preseason All-SEC pick, Flowers has 10 tackles thus far in the season and 1 tackle for loss. Last year, Flowers notched 11.5 tackles for loss to go along with 44 tackles and 5.0 assists.

Taiwan Johnson (6-3/263): Johnson is from Manvel of all places and he is really a disruptive force defensively. already notching 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks thus far in the season. Texas Tech hasn't faced a real defensive presence in the middle and Texas Tech is going to have their hands full with Arkansas' defensive line.

DT Darius Philon (6-3/283): Possibly a problem for the interior of Texas Tech's line as Philon has some really good size and strength. Paired with Johnson, Texas Tech is really going to need to be on their toes. Philon has 1.5 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss thus far.

3. Three Keys to the Game.

1) Replace Robertson. I feel bad about this, but this is a situation where Texas Tech simply cannot afford to have Robertson be man-handled by a tackle. I am simply amazed that it worked out as well as it did against UTEP, but Texas Tech is essentially playing a man down with Robertson on the field. I'd be fine switching him up a bit, moving him to different spots to get him on the field, but if Robertson is one the line for a majority of plays rather than a defensive end that can help contain the run, then it most likely will be a really long day for the Texas Tech rush defense.

2) Ask Webb to Take the Small Stuff. I do appreciate how Davis Webb takes chances, but he and the offense need to pick at the defense a bit more. A feast or famine situation isn't going to last the entire season and the thing is that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition, the deep ball or a sideline screen. There's nothing wrong with some designated out routes that nibble at the defense rather than just goes for it all. The 20 yard pass plays will be there, but let's build up the receivers a bit.

3) Don't Give Up That Running Game. That running game for Texas Tech is saving Texas Tech's rear and it's really fun to watch. Justin Stockton is a revelation and that speed is going to translate to any game. The same tcould be said for DeAndre Washington, who has shown a ton of wiggle as a runner and the implementation of Stockton and Washington and Quinton White has been a terrific change of pace for an inconsistent passing game.

4. Marquez Should Be Big. The only highlights that I've been able to find are from the Arkansas vs. Auburn game, so I really didn't get a good chance to really take a look at Arkansas from an offensive or defensive standpoint. Generally speaking, I think we know what Arkansas is about, but I wanted to point out a copule of different things. Check out the receiver in the slot, where Marquez would be lined up. That's Auburn's D'haquille Williams and he's a JUCO guy that's about the same size as Marquez and Williams aready has 200 yards receiving. There's not a man on him and from what I can tell, Arkansas is in zone coverage the safeties are either supposed to pick him up or the linebackers have made a terrible mistake because those three linebackers really aren't manning up on a soul.

In the second frame, you can see that Williams is pretty much running free to the zone where there's no defender, that sweet spot between the linebackers and the safeties.

In the third frame, you can see that the linebackers appear to have an "oh shit" moment as they have all pretty much turned their bodies and heads towards the trajectory of the football and now, Williams has the advantage over the safety because there was no linebacker even remotely close to help bracket that coverage.

This could be a really big day for Marquez or any of the other inside receivers. Notice too, from the first frame that the cornerbacks aren't pressing. It will be interesting to see if Arkansas watches the film and decides to do the same thing that Central Arkansas and UTEP did, which is press those outside receivers ane make them beat you deep.

5. More of a Zone. Arkansas presses on the left side of the field, but decides to play more off the ball zone on the right side of the field. It's Williams for Auburn again.

There's a couple of things to note here. The first is that the Arkansas defender doesn't do a good job of not letting Williams cross his body. And not only cross his body, but have almost zero resistance doing so.  If the defender is supposed to funnel him to the middle of the field, that's not good either because there's zero help. Also notice that the defender on the far side of the field who has either been completely crossed up or fallen down or is grabbing on for dear life.

At this point, the defender is playing 3 yards behind and now the safety has to make a play.

Maybe the big thought with these two points is that as good as the defensive line appears to be, the secondary and the linebackers may struggle in coverage, especially on that second level. I don't know if this is going to make a third straight week where the wide receivers struggle to get open, but there appears to be some real opportunity in the second level.