Published September 26, 2012 - 11:00am
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The Matchup: Arkansas (1-3, 0-1) at Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1)
When: Saturday, September 29th
Where: College Station, Texas
Game Time: 12:00 PM ET
TV: SEC Network
What you need to know about Arkansas: This team is really struggling, both on the field and off it. The program is in a downward spiral, and the Hogs are looking for anything to build upon to salvage this season. Bowl eligibility would be a surprise at this point.
Tyler Wilson came back last week against Rutgers, and he had a good game, throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton set an SEC receiving record with 303 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
However, the bigger issue is that Arkansas can’t run the football against anyone. The Hogs are currently last in the SEC in rushing, averaging 97.8 yards per game. Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson can’t seem to get anything going on the ground, especially Davis, who is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry. I realize this is a larger combination of problems, but Davis had the potential to be a first-round draft pick after this season. He sure doesn’t look like it through four weeks, and he still could be feeling the effects of his ankle injury.
Above this, the biggest problem with Arkansas is the defensive secondary. The Rutgers’ quarterback looked like an All-American, throwing for 400 yards and five touchdowns. The secondary is allowing 312 (312!) yards through the air per game. The Hogs won’t beat anyone with those numbers, no matter how good Tyler Wilson may be or how many yards he can throw for. It won’t happen. The Hogs are dead last in the SEC in total defense, allowing 458 yards per game. Those are eye-popping numbers, folks.
What you need to know about Texas A&M: Kyle Field will be loud for an 11 AM local start time against Arkansas. The Aggies can smell blood in the water against the Hogs, and they are all itching to get a lot of firsts in this football game.
Everything on offense runs through Johnny Manziel, and it will once again. Manziel leads the club in scoring with 12 total touchdowns, and he’s fourth in total offense and second in scoring in the SEC. And Arkansas is in no shape on defense to stop Manziel or limit what he can do. Receiver Mike Evans is having a fantastic year with 18 catches for 224 yards, as is Thomas Johnson. That’s three freshmen leading the offense. The future looks bright, wouldn’t you say?
However, Manziel is going to need help down the road against better defenses in the running game. Backs Christine Michael, Ben Malena and Trey Williams are going to have to do their part to provide another playmaker besides Manziel. But against Arkansas, Manziel should have a monster day.
This is an underrated club on defense. The Aggies lead the SEC in sacks with 16 total with only three games played. Specifically DE Damontre Moore leads the SEC in sacks with 6.0 and tackles for loss with 8.0. The pass defense is fourth in the SEC. However, they haven’t faced a quarterback like Wilson yet who can put up numbers, nor have they faced a receiver in Hamilton who is so dynamic. This group will be tested.
What you need to watch: The Aggies want nothing more than to win the Southwest Classic and get their first SEC win against their long-time rivals. Arkansas leads the series 41-24-3, and TAMU looks to better those numbers. However, noon games are always tough to play, and teams rarely get into rhythm early in the game.
I’ll be watching a couple different matchups. First, Wilson against TAMU’s defense will be an interesting battle. We know how good Wilson can be, and the Aggies’ defense has shown out thus far. I do expect TAMU to bring a ton of pressure and hit Wilson just like every other team that has dominated the Hogs’ offensive line.
Secondly, Manziel should have a field day against the Hogs’ lowly defense. Ranked nearly last in every single defensive statistic, Arkansas is facing the best single player they’ve faced so far in Manziel. Whether passing or running, expect Manziel to light it up once he and the offense get going.