Arkansas football: 5 advantages Hogs have over Aggies
The No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0, 1-0) travel from Fayetteville for the 1st time this season to take on No. 23 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0) at 6 p.m. CT Saturday in Jerry World. It will be the SEC opener for the Aggies, who are coming off a very impressive 17-9 victory over then-No. 13 Miami.
The Hogs, meanwhile, struggled last week but rallied late to beat Missouri State, 38-27, and for the 2nd week in a row find themselves ranked in the AP top 10. That hadn’t been done since the 2012 season. In addition, Arkansas is looking to start 4-0 in back-to-back years for the first time since 1988-89.
The Razorbacks broke a long losing streak to Texas A&M last season with a 20-10 victory, the 1st in 10 tries against the Aggies. To start a streak of their own in this series, the Razorbacks must take full advantage of these 5 areas on Saturday.
1. QB KJ Jefferson
Insert Jim Carrey gif: “Duh!”
Jefferson continues to be a 1-man wrecking crew (pun intended). He ranks 2nd in the SEC and 15th in the nation in total offense, generating an average of 313 total yards per game. He ranks 3rd in the SEC in completion percentage (70.5), passing TDs (6) and QB rating (176.25).
Of course, that doesn’t even take into consideration his rushing prowess. Jefferson has rushed for 169 yards and 3 TDs, and he will no doubt cause Texas A&M its biggest headache.
2. LB Drew Sanders
The Alabama transfer has come through in a big way for Arkansas this season. His 5.0 sacks lead the SEC and rank 2nd nationally. He has recorded sacks in all 3 games, including multiple sacks in each of the past 2.
Sanders has quickly become a leader on defense. He has already racked up 27 tackles, 2nd on the team to Bumper Pool (29). Sanders has a team-high 16 solo tackles and leads the team with 6.0 tackles for loss.
He is definitely a disrupter, and he can be a difference-maker Saturday.
3. Getting to the quarterback
In addition to Sanders’ ability to wreak havoc in opposing teams’ backfield, he has had help. As a team, the Hogs lead the country with 17 sacks. No fewer than 7 different Razorbacks have recorded at least 1 sack.
Behind Sanders is Jordan Domineck (4.5 sacks), Zach Williams (2.5), Landon Jackson (1.5) and Jayden Johnson (1.5). Pool also has 1 sack, while Jashaud Stewart and Chris Paul Jr. each has been credited with 0.5 sacks.
Creating negative plays will be key on Saturday, and the Hogs have a plethora of talent to accomplish just that.
4. Run game/RB Rocket Sanders
Arkansas’ ground game is 2nd in the SEC, averaging 243.67 yards per game. Only Ole Miss (271.67) has better numbers through 3 games.
Individually, Sanders leads the SEC with 440 rushing yards, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in each of the first 3 games. He ranks 3rd nationally, averaging 146.7 yards per game. He averages 6.7 yards per carry in 66 attempts.
A successful running game, moving the chains and controlling the tempo are what the Razorbacks will be looking to continue to do against the Aggies.
5. Total offense
When you have elite talent like Jefferson, Sanders and company, you’re going to move the football. Arkansas has done so with great efficiency. The Hogs rank 3rd in the SEC in total offense, averaging 500.3 yards per game.
It’s a dominating group that starts with a big, strong offensive line that centers around Ricky Stromberg in the middle with Brady Latham and Luke Jones to the left, and Beaux Limmer and Dalton Wagner on the right side.