As the deflating loss against TCU ended Texas’ regular season, UT fans rallied around the still bowl eligible Longhorns with hopes of a post season victory to establish a winning record. As the announcement of the bowl schedules approached, Texas had potential to match up with old rival Texas A&M, but was eventually pitted against the 6-6 Arkansas Razorbacks. With Arkansas and Texas set to face off in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl on December 29th, all eyes return to the Texas coaches and they prepare for this game.

The excitement swelling around the possible revamped rivalry against Texas A&M may have taken the focus off of the Razorbacks, but let me assure you that would be a mistake. The Razorbacks have a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in Alex Collins (1,085) and Jonathan Williams (1,115) and an offensive line that averages 6’6’’ 321lbs. Left Tackle Dan Skipper (6’10’’ 326lbs) and Right Tackle Brey Cook (6’7’’ 314) are the anchors of the squad that also includes Freshman All-SEC Center Frank Ragnow (6’5’’ 300lbs). This Arkansas team isn’t the same squad that the nation watched suffer defeat at Auburn early in the season, having since acquired wins over #23 LSU (17-0) and #9 Ole Miss (30-0). Arkansas later lost to #1 Alabama, however, it was just a one point loss (14-13), showing a steady improvement from their first game.

The Razorback defense is also strong, giving up only 10 rushing TD’s all season. This good run defense could prove to be a problem for the Longhorns, as Texas tends to rely on a solid zone running game to set up the rest of their offensive attack. Inside linebacker, Martrell Spaight, leads the defense with 123 total tackles as well as a bevy of other statistics: 8.5 TFLS, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 4 QB hurries, 2 FF, and 1 FR (the next leading tackler on this defense has 68 total tackles). Defensive lineman, Trey Flowers, could also pose a huge problem for the Longhorns as he’s accumulated 13.5 TFLs and 5 sacks this season.

Against TCU, Texas struggled to contain the Horned Frogs’ pass rush. With just defensive linemen TCU was able to put significant pressure on Swoopes, contributing to 4 INTs and 4 sacks. Texas’ Camrhon Hughes (right tackle) struggled early, resulting in Swoopes having little time to complete passes or, even complete a three step drop. Texas was forced to send a tight end or running back to chip J. McFarland (TCU’s left end) in order to have time to properly set up plays.

Arkansas coaches will note and will likely try to attack weaknesses and tendencies from the Horns' last game. With strong pass rushers from Arkansas, Texas will need to call the right kind of plays to help their offense succeed. Realistically, offensive play calling in this game could affect the Longhorns more than in any other game this season.

Arkansas’ stout run defense (likely a result of practicing against a terrific rushing offense every day) will slow down Texas’ consistently effective rushing attack, immediately putting more pressure on Tyrone Swoopes. As we have seen this season, Swoopes hasn’t handled high pressure situations the same way from game to game. Sometimes he flourishes, highlighting his athletic ability as well as his passing accuracy, and in other games, like TCU, he misses the mark. Managing this game properly will depend upon properly managing Tyrone Swoopes.

As Texas prepares for post season play, it is important for the Longhorns to avoid getting caught up in trick plays, fancy blitzes or any other gadget plays. Each Longhorn win this season has come basically the same way: stellar defense and an offense focused on moving the chains.

The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” - Sun Tzu