Overcoming the Unique Challenge Arkansas Presents


Nov 14, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen (10) throws against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2015 season began, the Arkansas Razorbacks were supposed to be a team that would grind you to a pulp with their massive offensive line. once they got a lead and the ball, we were told to expect them to run the ball down the throat of their opponents and sap the clock of all its life. But that hasn’t really been the case for Arkansas in 2015.

Arkansas is still completely capable of running the ball at a high level. Alex Collins has surpassed 1,000 yards for the season for the third time in his career. He is only the third Razorback to accomplish that feat.

But the Razorbacks are one of the most balanced teams in the SEC and country. Arkansas ranks 32nd in the country in rushing yards per game and 33rd in the country in passing yards per game. Beating Arkansas in 2015 has been far more complicated than simply shutting down the running game.

The emergence of Brandon Allen, specifically in the past six games, has brought the Razorbacks from the brink of a devastatingly disappointing season to possibly the most feared team in the SEC outside of Alabama. If the Bulldogs want to slow Arkansas down, they will have to limit an offense that isn’t afraid to beat you in whatever way possible.

Arkansas has weapons all over the field on offense which has made them one of the most dangerous teams offensively in the SEC. On yards alone, the Arkansas running game is the third best in the conference, and 32nd in the country. Alex Collins is the leader of the rushing attack with 1,209 yards and a 6.1 yard per carry average.

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But Mississippi State fans all saw how much total yards isn’t as important as we once thought. The Bulldogs outgained the Crimson Tide and still lost by 25 points.

If you go by Bill Connelly’s advanced stats on Arkansas, Arkansas has the 9th best running game in the country. They are tough to stop on the ground.

The development of the passing game and Brandon Allen as a quarterback is the most significant development for the Razorbacks. Allen is completing over 64% of his passes with 2,617 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions.

Once again, if you go to advanced stats, Arkansas has the best passing game in the country according to Connelly. Few, if anyone, saw this coming from Bielema’s team.

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  • So why should Mississippi State fans have any hope? The Arkansas offense is good, but Mississippi State’s offense isn’t a pushover. For total yards, Mississippi State is right behind the Razorbacks at 3rd in the conference. The difference is Mississippi State does most of their damage through the air.

    The Bulldogs have the 2nd best passing offense in terms of yards in the SEC and 21st in the country. The advanced stats bear that as well. According to Connelly, Mississippi State’s passing offense is 13th in the country.

    But despite the success of the passing game, the Bulldogs biggest hope for success in Fayetteville this weekend is the differences in the two defensive units. Mississippi State has a clear advantage defensively.

    Mississippi State is only giving up 18.6 points a game compared to the 27.9 points a game the Razorbacks are giving up. In terms of total yards, Mississippi State is 7th defensively and Arkansas 12th. But once again, total yards is not always an indicator of real success.

    When you look at the advanced stats, neither Mississippi State nor Arkansas are spectacular at stopping the run. Mississippi State is 62nd and Arkansas is 50th. The disparity between the two teams lies in the passing defense. Mississippi State has the 33rd best unit in the country according to advanced stats and Arkansas is rated 112th.

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    The biggest reason in my view that Arkansas has struggled so much against the pass is simply because they struggle to get pressure on the quarterback. Coming into this game, the Razorbacks have only sacked the opposing quarterback 13 times. While the nightmares of Alabama sacking Dak Prescott 9 times this past Saturday are still very fresh in the minds of Mississippi State fans, Arkansas does not have the same type of players up front that Alabama did. They might get to Prescott once, possibly twice if Mississippi State is feeling any of the affects of the Alabama game, but it won’t be more than that.

    Dak Prescott has proven this season he can thrive when he has time to throw. He should have plenty this weekend against Arkansas. And while both defenses will struggle to slow down the other team’s offense, Mississippi State is more capable of slowing down the Razorbacks than the other way around.