After a near perfect showing in the 34-14 opening win over Louisiana, Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks (1-0) hope to build momentum this week as they host the Samford Bulldogs (1-0). The 6:00 kickoff down in “The Rock” will be the Hogs lone Pay-Per-View telecast in 2013.
It has been awhile since we have seen a better performance out of a Razorback offensive line. The power and agility seen in the up-front play led to a big day from both Jonathan Williams (151 RuYds, TD) and Alex Collins (141 RuYds). Watching Travis Swanson pull from his center position and lead an off-tackle power or sweep is not something many centers can do, and is a thing of beauty.
There is no question that the commitment to run the football gave the play-action game a real boost. That and the protection Brandon Allen received (15-23 230 PaYds, 3TDs) allowed for a very efficient passing performance. Anytime you can exceed 8 yards per pass attempt (Hogs were 10.0 YPP Saturday), that is exceptional.
We were really impressed with tight ends Jeremy Sprinkle and Hunter Henry and how they caught the ball. Both can create mismatches and look hard to cover. Javontee Herndon’s 49-yard TD catch was SportsCenter Top 10 worthy.
Defensively, the Hogs looked stout up-front. Somewhat surprisingly, they were able to keep UL quarterback Ramon Broadway in check all day, picking their spots to blitz and bring pressure. Trey Flowers (2 sacks) and Jarrett Lake (7 tackles) were all over the field.
So now the Hogs turn their attention to a FCS opponent, the Samford Bulldogs who are coached by former Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan (13th season overall 57-76-1, 7th season at Samford 33-34). Sullivan has been recovering from off-season back surgery and did not accompany the Bulldogs to Atlanta last week when they beat Georgia State 31-21.
Against Georgia State, Assistant Head Coach Bill D’Ottavio filled in admirably as Samford got their first ever win as a program against a FBS opponent.
“You can’t overestimate a win, and going on the road for the opener, this is a great win for us. And I think this is a good football team we played. I know they are new and up and coming, but they have a lot of good football players.” – Bill D’Ottavio
The bell cow for the Bulldogs is certainly senior running back Fabian Truss. Truss, who garnered FCS All-American honors from Phil Steele is an “all-purpose machine”. The dangerous return man returned the opening season kickoff against Georgia State 100 yards for a touchdown en route to 296 all-purpose yards (78 Rush, 16 Rec, 202 Ret).
On defense, safety Jaquiski Tartt is rated by some as the top safety in the FCS division. He intercepted a pass in the opener and returned it 33 yards for a momentum changing touchdown.
As usual though when you play an FCS opponent, this game is more about the Razorbacks and correcting the mistakes from week 1. Continuing to play well and build momentum in these first four games is imperative.
The extended forecast calls for sunny skies Saturday night and a game time temperatures in the low 90s. The Hogs are favored by 32 1/2.