We all know what happened when the Hogs rolled into Lubbock last season. The Red Raiders hung with the Hogs for 30 minutes but halftime came and they ran roughshod over the Red Raiders in second half. The Hogs piled up 438 yards on the ground while holding onto the ball for forty minutes. Statistically the game was pretty ugly for the Red Raiders all around. Arkansas had fewer turnovers and fewer penalties, while having more total yards and more time of possession. That all culminated in a 21-point victory for Arkansas.
Fast forward to last week, Arkansas gets beat by Toledo which pretty much shocked everybody. Almost as shocking is the fact that Arkansas threw the ball 53 times. So I tortured myself by going back and reviewing Arkansas drive chart and box score from last year's game to see if there was a similarly shocking stat (outside of them rushing for almost a tenth of a mile). Here are some other interesting notes from their offensive drive chart and box score from last year's game.
- Arkansas had nine possessions (not including the possessions that ended the half and the game). They scored touchdowns on seven of those nine possessions.
- They scored touchdowns on all three second half possessions.
- Of their two failed possessions, one ended with a punt and the other ended in a fumble.
- The Arkansas drive that ended in a punt was the only drive that they attempted more passes than rushes. They threw four passes and rushed twice.
- As I mentioned, Arkansas only threw the ball twelve times. They threw the ten passes in the first half and two passes in the second half.
- Arkansas completed six passes with only one of them taking place in the second half.
- Alex Collins averaged 7.9 yards per carry. Jonathan Williams averaged 6.6 yards per carry, but will not play this week due to injury. Those two combined for 49 carries in last season's games.
- Their last drive which ended the game last over nine minutes.
After reviewing the Toledo game and last year's game, to me the key stat for Saturday's game is: Can we limit Arkansas to less than 5.0 yards per carry? That is a tenth of a point under the 5.1 average yard per rush last season. That is a lofty goal, but I think our defensive line is better and deeper. I also think the loss of Jonathan Williams impacts their ability to control the ground game as well as they did last season.
Why did they throw so much versus Toledo last week and run so much versus Tech last season? Easy. Toledo held them to 3.4 yards per carry. Last season, they averaged 6.5 yards per carry versus Tech which meant they couldn't get Arkansas into passing situations. This led to Arkansas 68 rushing attempts in the game and only attempting twelve passes. Last week, Toledo forced them to have to throw the ball which didn't sit well with Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema. On Monday he said they are a running team and need to do a better job in the running game. Based on that alone, I would expect they are going to do everything they can to keep the ball on the ground. Tech will have to prove they can stop the run if they want to win.