Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) – The sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies will
return to SEC action on Saturday afternoon at a neutral site at AT&T Stadium
in Arlington when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
After opening up the season with a 45-21 loss at Auburn, Arkansas has
rebounded nicely with wins in three straight, downing Nicholls State (73-7),
Texas Tech (49-28) and Northern Illinois (52-14). The Razorbacks need to get
over the hump in the SEC, however, as they also won three non-conference games
early in 2013 before going winless in the league. Their SEC losing streak of
13 dates back to October of 2012.
“I think we’ve improved every day,” Arkansas coach Brett Bielema said. “I’m
excited (to play Texas A&M). I think the guys are confident. They have a
certain mentality and attitude that has not been here since I’ve been here.
It’s getting better and better every day and it’s just a lot of fun to be
Texas A&M has been impressive during its undefeated start, rising all the way
to No. 6 in the AP Poll and even garnering four first-place votes. With a 58-6
trouncing of SMU last Saturday, the Aggies moved to 4-0 for the first time
In regards to the all-time series, Arkansas has a 41-26-3 lead, but Texas A&M
has won two in a row.
The Razorbacks’ offense has been excellent through the first four games in
posting 48.8 ppg (third in the nation) and 484.5 ypg, and in last week’s win
over NIU they scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game.
Arkansas leans heavily on the ground game, tallying nearly 325 rushing yards
per game, and it has one of the nation’s most prolific running back duos. Alex
Collins (490 yards) and Jonathan Williams (391 yards) have each picked up at
least 7.5 yards per carry and have combined for 12 touchdowns.
With some much work coming out of the backfield, Brandon Allen isn’t very busy
under center (138.0 passing ypg), but when he is called upon he usually
delivers, as he’s completing 61.4 percent of his throws with 10 touchdowns
(two rushing) and just one pick.
In addition to leading the team in receptions (10), yards (196) and receiving
scores (two), Keon Hatcher has also added 98 rushing yards and a touchdown and
has even ran back two kickoffs for 63 yards.
The defense has seen plenty of improvement in the weeks since the opener as
well. The unit allows just 23.5 ppg and 373.2 ypg.
Martrell Spaight anchors the defense at linebacker with 30 tackles, an
interception and a fumble recovery. Trey Flowers (4.0 TFL, sack, FF) and
Taiwan Johnson (5.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) generate a strong pass-rush.
As outstanding as Arkansas’ offense has been, Texas A&M’s has been even
better. Its scoring offense (55.2 ppg) and total offense (612.5 ypg) are both
ranked second in the country, placing behind only Baylor in both categories,
and it is led by a Heisman hopeful at quarterback.
Kenny Hill has been nearly flawless in his first four games under center,
completing just shy of 70 percent of his passes for 1,359 yards and 13
touchdowns while throwing his first and only pick just last week. He doesn’t
break out of the pocket very often (106 yards), but when he does he’s
displayed impressive rushing ability, ripping off a 58-yard run against SMU.
The Aggies have one of the deepest receiving corps in the country, with nine
players registering at least 77 yards. Malcome Kennedy (30 receptions, 334
yards, TD) has stepped to the front of the pack as Hill’s preferred target,
while Ricky Seals-Jones (192 yards, three TDs) and Josh Reynolds (247 yards,
four TDs) are strong red-zone threats.
The squad spreads the wealth in the backfield too, as six players have at
least 15 carries yet no one has more than 30. Trey Williams (208 yards, four
TDs) has been the most productive tailback.
Defensively, the Aggies are much improved from last season (when they gave up
32.2 ppg), allowing only 11.8 ppg, but they have forced only three turnovers,
which is a cause for concern for the coaching staff.
“Two weeks in a row we lost the turnover battle,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin
said. “The things we are continuing to work on are our penalties, our turnover
margin and third downs. We accomplished some things but have areas to improve
Howard Matthews has racked up a team-best 27 tackles. Myles Garrett has shined
along the defensive line with 6.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks and an additional five QB