After another kick in the gut last Saturday night in Fayetteville, the Hogs take to the road for the first time this season as they visit the Texas A&M Aggies (2-1,0-1). The 11:21 kickoff will be televised by the SEC Network.
While some would say the Hogs played better last Saturday against Rutgers, the outcome was still the same — a 35-26 loss at home to a team we were favored to beat. We won’t have to worry about being favored for a while.
As the game went along, Tyler Wilson and the offense seemed to find a rhythm, at least in the passing game. Cobi Hamilton’s record setting 303 receiving yards and 3 TDs were proof of that. The problem continues to be on defense, where the Hogs made average quarterback Gary Nova (25-35, 397 PaYds, 5 TDs) look like a Heisman contender.
The five-man front that the Hog defense employed did a nice job of holding the Rutgers rushing totals down (128 yards), but did little to help the cornerbacks who were left to fend for themselves. The Hogs now stand ranked 111th (312.3 YPG) nationally in pass defense.
And for the second straight game, Paul Haynes’ defense has recorded NO SACKS and NO TURNOVERS. (We’re not counting Nova’s intentional grounding as a sack.) As a result, after four weeks, Arkansas finds themselves dead last in the nation (120th) in turnover margin, at minus 2.5 per game.
The Aggies, however, are on the upswing and have rebounded nicely after a tough 20-17 loss at home to Florida. Since that loss in front of the College Game Day crew, aTm has outscored SMU and South Carolina St. by a whopping 118-17 margin.
Texas A&M is led by first year coach Kevin Sumlin (37-18, 5th year overall). Sumlin is an offensive-minded coach who has brought with him from Houston a wildly successful spread attack. Former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury is his offensive coordinator, and they know what they’re doing on that side of the ball.
The ‘ring leader’ of this year’s Aggie aerial circus is redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel (6-1, 200). Manziel is very athletic, and will not hesitate to pull it down and take off. Through three games, he has run for 262 yards, passed for 641, and accounted for 12 TDs.
Familiar faces — running back Christine Michael (899 RuYds, 8 TDs in 2011), and wide receivers Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu – are all back. Wide receivers Mike Evans (redshirt freshman, 6-5, 209) and Thomas Johnson (freshman, 5-11, 180) are future stars emerging in 2012.
The Aggies only return six starters this year on defense, with the bell cow being senior middle linebacker Jonathan Stewart (6-4, 244). Junior defensive end Damontre Moore (8 TFL, 6 Sacks) is quick off the edge and leads the nation in sacks per game (2.0).
More than all of that, though, the Aggies are looking for a lot of payback after the Razorbacks have had a lot of fun at their expense the last three seasons in Dallas. Plus, getting that important first SEC win against an old foe…that would be pretty sweet for the farmers.
So how do the Hogs win? Maybe our coaches should take a page from former Texas A&M coach Bear Bryant’s famous “Here’s Why You Can Win” speech. One of our favorites…
In the meantime, if you’re going to College Station, try not to get ‘gigged’…we hear it’s not a fun experience. Texas A&M is favored by 14.