Preview TAMU vs. The University of Arkansas
Those, very few of you, that read my post know I do not (normally) offer a preview of an upcoming game. Why? I am simply too emotional to be objective. However as this is such a big game (if for no other reason to confirm the 2nd half of last week’s game was not a fluke I wanted to give my thoughts.
Having said that, I want to tell my readers (or is it reader?) what I expect and what I hope for during the game against Arkansas so, please, take my comments with a grain of salt.
A few thoughts about the Hogs:
- Hog QB, Austin Allen came into the season as one of the (anticipated) SEC’s premier passers. However, to date he has been far less than stellar; in fact he has been downright lower-middle of the pack in performance. In his first two games he has thrown for 135 & 138 yards (versus a per-game average of 254 last year.) Most contribute this to a new batch of receivers but there is more amiss in Fayetteville as Allen has look uncomfortable and uncertain in each game.
- Regarding the lack of solid receivers that might change depending upon the health of JC standout Brandon Martin, a talent that most think will ensure he plays on Sunday in the future. However, even if Martin is back, how healthy he will be can only be answered when we see him on the field.
- Yet, Allen’s performance last year was no fluke and it is possible his “coming out” game might be this Saturday……let’s hope not.
- The Hog special teams are, quite simply, horrible. It does not seem like they can make a FG from further than 35 yards and even then it is 60/40.
- TCU killed the Hogs and TCU has a rushing defense that is not in the top 50 and a passing defense ranked 34 in terms of giving up the most passing yards. Said another way, Arkansas could only score seven points on a team with no defense (to speak of.)
- However, Arkansas played TCU very “tight” in their defensive secondary coverage, expect the Hogs to loosen that up a bit when they face the Aggies (which, while you will see, I say we need to establish a running game which will bring the Razorback’s secondary up closer.)
- Arkansas is not in the Top-50 in Rushing Offense, Passing Offense, or Scoring Offense. (For the record, A&M is not in the Top-50 in Passing Offense but is #19 in Rushing Offense and #34 in Scoring Offense.)
- Arkansas is #11 in the country in First Downs Given Up (21 rushing and 11 passing.) Meaning, their defense gives up a lot of yards. Inasmuch, the Ag O-Line should have a field day in terms of blocking and pushing the Hogs back when the ball is snapped……..BUT, as you read in my last post, our O-Line is very, very young and with youth comes inconsistency.
What I Hope To See
- Based on Arkansas’ defense; establish the running game…………Job 1.
- Kellen Mond, I hope, turned a corner this past Saturday and starts against Arkansas and begins the game with nice, easy passes until he gets into his groove.
- If, for whatever reason, Kellen gets in trouble, put Hubanek in the game.
- In the 2nd half of the Louisiana Lafayette game Mond looked like the future but that does not mean he has to be the future today……let him grow with legitimate and reasonable objectives and constraints.
- If we cannot start our 1st team running backs and if not, still commit to establishing the run game because I think we can run the ball through the Arkansas defense.
- Our O-Line continues to gain skill and confidence. I believe there will come some point (and it may not be towards the end of the season) that this young group is moving the D-Line on every play.
- The defense continues to fly to the ball, make open-field tackles and can also get pressure on Allen (he is in a fragile state and, sorry to say, this is the time to pounce; unless all he wants is a participation trophy.) It has been a long time since I have seen open-field tackling like I did in the L-L game.
- Alaka maybe………just maybe………….becoming the real leader of the Ag-D and I hope to see him continue to develop.
- Arkansas is #38 in 3rd down conversions while A&M is #34 in defenses stopping 3rd down conversions; one of these teams will own the day on 3rd down and that needs to be the Ag-D.
- A&M is one of the national leaders in fewest penalty yards: Continue not to give free yards to UA.
- Our Ag’s run a very complex defense; we are not one thing, we run an under-front, and over-front scheme, we have great inside tackles and good ends. Yes, we lost two to the NFL but our end play is still very solid. This combined with UA’s lack of offensive performance should………should give Arkansas fits all day.
- Our LB’s have great speed and they have proven they can shoot gaps when called upon (something I have not seen in several years.)
- The run game is 99% solid and I expect all of our backs healthy. In fact, I think our 2nd team RB’s might start for most D-1 programs so Sumlin will have fresh legs throughout the game.
- As leaders in Turnover Margin (+10) we obviously know how to grab opportunities when they come available.
What Do I Feel The Outcome Of The Game Will Be?
Remember what I said at the outset; I am too emotional when it comes to the Ag’s to be objective; having said that, I honestly believe, even though the line is only 3 points in favor on A&M we should beat the Hogs by between 10 & 14 points.
I do not see any reason we cannot and should not do so, however I will take a win any way we can get it.
I have had several friends ask “Why is Sumlin playing so many freshmen who really should be red-shirted?”
The answer is simple: If your boss came to you and said “Win or you are gone” why would you save any ammo for next year? If there is a freshman that should be have a red-shirt how is it in Sumlin’s interest to red-shirt them?
Said another way; if your life (in this case career) is on the line why would anyone hold back talent…….even if it is not in the best interest of the long-term Ag football program.
I do not agree, however I am a realist and this is my take.