The best way to win the game is to have more points when the clock is at zero than the other team. – Anonymous
The beleaguered Arkansas Razorbacks take a trip to Knoxville to do battle with the equally beleaguered Tennessee Volunteers this Saturday, October 3rd. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 PM on ESPN. Before this season started, the Hogs vs Vols was circled on a lot of folk’s calendars are a game to watch between 2 rising programs. Both teams finished the 2014 campaign with a 7-6 record and bowl win, so coming into the season, expectations were high for these two teams. Tennessee’s biggest win is over Bowling Green, and Arkansas’ only win is over UTEP. Both fanbases just stared at the screen last week as both teams just blew a 4th quarter lead against a rival on the road.
We are truly kindred spirits. So it pains me that we have to play each other this year. Because now one of us has to lose this game. And as much as I came to respect Vol fans while I lived in Tennessee…I don’t want to lose this game. You’ve already got 2 wins, Butch! Let us have this one! If the Hogs want to win, here are their keys to victory.
More from Razorbackers
- Nike’s latest Arkansas Razorbacks shoes are a must-have
- Believe it or not, Arkansas football has never played these FBS teams
- Arkansas vs UConn Prediction and $1,000 BetMGM Promo
- Arkansas vs. UConn, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: How to watch, odds, predictions
- When was the last time Arkansas won the NCAA Tournament? (Odds to win March Madness)
1) Make Josh Dobbs throw/stay in the pocket.
The junior QB for Tennessee is quite the athlete. In the Vols 28-27 heartbreaking loss to Florida, Dobbs rushed for 136 yards and only threw for 83. In fact, as a QB, Dobbs has not been that impressive on the season so far. He has 557 yards passing for 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. He has, however, rushed for 243 yards 2 scores as well. If you keep picking at the stats, you notice a trend in Dobb’s desire to run the ball instead of pass. Of his 243 total rushing yards, 225 of them came against Oklahoma and Florida. The Tennessee Volunteers have given up 8 sacks on the season so far, and the only reason that number isn’t higher is because Dobbs has a great ability to escape the pocket. If the Razorbacks can force Dobbs to stay in the pocket and throw, they’ll take away the most dynamic offensive weapon that the Volunteers have. Also, if the game relies on Dobb’s ability to pass and his offensive line’s ability to protect him, then Arkansas can (hopefully) take advantage of the situation with sacks and potential turnovers.
Say what you will about the Arkansas defense, but the Hogs were able to limit the most explosive offense in the SEC in A&M to only 21 regulation points. If Arkansas can get some stops, especially early in the game, then the Hogs will be in a good position for a win.
2) Dominate the Line of Scrimmage
Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Sebastian Tretola (73) in action against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
If there is one true advantage for the Razorbacks going into Saturday’s game, it’s our matchup with the Tennessee defense. The Volunteers aren’t exactly great at stopping the run. So far this season, teams have averaged over 4 yards per carry against the Vols, and Arkansas has the best rushing attack that they’ve seen so far this year. Even with the Toledo game factored in, the Hogs are averaging 4.97 yards per carry on the season, and are actually averaging over 5 yards per carry on first down. Arkansas was able to limit A&M from scoring thanks in large part of keeping the ball out of Kyle Allen’s hands. If the Razorbacks can keep the ground game in gear for 4 quarters, then Dobbs and co. will have less opportunities to put up points against the Razorback’s defense.
Let’s not forget about Brandon Allen, though. Allen comes into the game averaging 285 yards passing per game, and completing over 70% of his passes. Tennessee is giving up an average of 248 yards passing per game, and has struggled to get teams off the field when facing a 3rd and short. If Allen can play as his usual, steady self, then the Hogs should be in a position to win the game.
3) Stop Screwing Up
There’s really no other way to phrase it. The Razorbacks cost themselves a victory against Toledo and Texas A&M, and penalized themselves out of big moments against Texas Tech. The Hogs have shot themselves in the foot so many times that they don’t have any feet left. It’s just nubs. Like Cotton from King of the Hill.
The Volunteers and the Razorbacks have both cost themselves wins this season, and that has been the most frustrating thing for fans of both schools. Whichever team makes the least amount of mistakes, especially in the second half, and especially on 3rd down, will probably win this game. So stop jumping offsides or getting pass interference calls. Great teams don’t commit those kind of penalties. Good teams can overcome them. But struggling teams can’t afford to commit them in the first place.
We talk about these keys to victory, as well as other Hog topics, on this week’s second episode of Going Ham. What happens if the Hogs beat Tennessee? What does that mean for the rest of the season? You should check it out.