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Scouting Report: Arkansas Razorbacks


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Texas opened the Steve Sarkisian era with a solid victory over Louisiana, but now all the attention turns to big matchup in Fayetteville this weekend. The Longhorns have not traveled to Arkansas since 2004 and are not likely to get a warm reception when they trot onto Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday evening. Let's a take a look at what to expect from Arkansas:

Offense

A familiar face is coordinating the offense in Fayetteville. Longtime Baylor assistant Kendal Briles is in his 2nd year as the Razorback's offensive coordinator and brought the veer and shoot to a program that was searching for an offensive identity. Briles relied on Florida transfer Felipe Franks to operate the offense last year but handed the reigns over to redshirt sophomore KJ Jefferson this season. Jefferson is built very similar to former Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes. Standing at 6'3 245 pounds, Jefferson brings a unique skillset in the running game and isn't afraid to lower his shoulder for extra yards. As a passer, Jefferson leaves a lot to be desired, which forces Briles to be extra careful when calling a game. The arm strength is there, but the accuracy is inconsistent. Jefferson completed 12 of 21 last week against Rice including an interception where he forced the ball along the sideline instead of throwing it away.

As with any Briles offense, the Razorbacks will spread out their receivers with wide splits to allow for things to open up in the running game. Redshirt junior Trelon Smith will receive the bulk of the carries. Smith had 22 carries for 102 yards against the Owls and is a shifty back who has good acceleration.

Treylon Burks is the clear #1 receiver for the Hogs and clearly was not on the same page with KJ Jefferson week 1, which contributed heavily to the offensive struggles the Razorbacks had. Burks is a true playmaker out of the slot and led the team with 51 catches for 820 yards in 2020. If Texas is able to slow him down, the Arkansas offense is going to be in trouble.

Along the offensive line, the Razorbacks start a veteran group comprised of 3 redshirt seniors, 1 junior and a redshirt sophomore. Left tackle Myron Cunningham is a future NFL player who has only allowed 3 sacks in 21 starts. He is well regarded as a pass blocker and will likely find himself matched up with Ovie Oghoufo frequently.

Defense

A lot has been written about Arkansas DC Barry Odom over the last year. The former head coach at Missouri was connected to the Texas DC opening at one point over the offseason and is highly thought of throughout college football. 

For the second week, the Texas offense is going to face a defense filled with veteran players. At least 8 or 9 starters on the Arkansas defense will be seniors. One of the few non-seniors will be redshirt sophomore Jalen Catalon, who is among the best safeties in the country. Odom will move Catalon all over the field and he has an excellent nose for the football. 

Two of the biggest storylines heading into Saturday is the health of DT John Ridgeway and Arkansas being without starting LB Bumper Pool due to a targeting penalty in the second half against Rice. Ridgeway is a graduate transfer from Illinois State who was supposed to fill a big void at NG but was unavailable against Rice. It is unknown if he will play Saturday. Pool's absence in the first half could prove to be big considering the 2020 All-SEC second team member had over 100 tackles a season ago.

Final Thoughts

The game will likely come down to the ability of the Texas offense to consistently move the ball against the Arkansas defense. If Sarkisian can scheme up some easy passes for Hudson Card and establish the running game early with Bijan Robinson, all the pressure will shift to the Razorbacks. Pete Kwiatkowski would be smart to deploy a similar gameplan to the one he showed against Louisiana: limit big plays, slow down the running game and force the quarterback to beat you through the air. 

Arkansas is very likely to come out fired up and playing with a lot of emotion considering the history they have with the Longhorns. If Texas is able to withstand the initial surge and limit mistakes early (turnovers and penalties) then they have a very good chance of leaving Fayetteville with a victory.

 

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5 minutes ago, Jameson McCausland said:

 

I believe I heard he broke his leg.  Big blow to Arkansas.  This paired with LB Bumper Pool missing the first half could be problematic for Arkansas.

Also, J - loved the Jefferson comparison to Tyrone Swoopes.  Pretty spot-on in terms of size and what he gives the Hogs.  Arky offense started slow but finally got some things together in the second half and finally wore out Rice.

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  • 2021 Texas Football Schedule

    Week
    Opponent
    W/L
    9/4
    Louisiana
    W 38-18
    9/11
    @Arkansas
    L 21-40
    9/18
    Rice
    W 58-0
    9/25
    Texas Tech
    W 70-35
    10/2
    @TCU
    W 32-27
    10/9
    Oklahoma
    L 48-55
    10/16
    Oklahoma State
    10/30
    @Baylor
    11/6
    @Iowa State
    11/13
    Kansas
    11/20
    @West Virginia
    11/27
    Kansas State

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