Arkansas came into Jones AT&T Stadium last year and ran all over Texas Tech. The Razorbacks threw the ball a total of 12 times but ran the ball 68 times. It is safe to say Arkansas enjoys running the football. They had two 1,100 yard rushers last year and both return for the 2015 season. If the Red Raiders don't have their defense figured out by the third game of the season we could be in for a long game like last year.
Result: Texas Tech 28 vs Arkansas 49
Arkansas 2014 Record: 7-6
Where: Fayetteville, AR
Arkansas Key Returners: #32 RB Jonathan Williams (211 carries, 1190 yards, 12 TDs), #3 RB Alex Collins (204 carries, 1100 yards, 12 TDs), #51 MLB Brooks Ellis (72 tackles, 5.5 TFL)
Key Matchup: Will Texas Tech be able to contain Arkansas' rushing attack?
Arkansas ran and ran and ran some more last year when they came to Lubbock. Quarterback, Brandon Allen, completed 6 of 12 passes for 61 yards and the rest of Arkansas' offense was on the ground. The Razorbacks combined to run the ball 68 times for 438 yards and 7 TDs last year. Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins both return to the Arkansas backfield and will be the spotlight for the Razorbacks' offense again this year. Last year Williams and Collins combined for 357 of Arkansas' 438 rushing yards and 6 TDs. These two are one of the fiercest running back duos in the nation. Coach Gibbs will need to have the defense rolling at full speed when the third game of the season gets here. This game will be the first real challenge for the Red Raiders new-look defense.
On defense the Razorbacks lose their top 3 leaders in DE Trey Flowers, OLB Martrell Spaight, and DT Darius Philon. All three were key contributors for the 2014 defense and all three were drafted in this year's NFL draft. The top returning tackler for Arkansas is MLB Brooks Ellis. Ellis finished finished his sophomore campaign with 72 tackles which was good enough for second most on the team behind Spaight. Last year Davis Webb threw the ball 45 times but a lot of that had to do with the Red Raiders playing from behind for the most part of the game. DeAndre Washington totaled only 8 carries but still averaged 6.4 yards a carry. Hopefully this year we will be able to use a more balanced attack when we take on the Razorbacks.
Why I worry
Arkansas ranked 29th in rushing offense last year with 218 yards a game and that's with a majority of its games against tough SEC defenses. Texas Tech's defense ranked 124th in rushing defense giving up 259.5 yards a game. Simply put, Arkansas' greatest strength is our greatest weakness. If our defense isn't able to stop the run then we could see a repeat of last year.
Why I don't worry
Last year Texas Tech got their first taste of Arkansas and got hit right in the mouth. This year Texas Tech should be better prepared and focused on Arkansas' relentless rushing attack. There's only so much you can do with rushing plays and Texas Tech will be able to study the plays that destroyed them last year.