Know Your Enemy: Arkansas Razorbacks


After about as uninspiring of a 2-0 start as you can get, the Red Raiders will take on former Southwest Conference rival Arkansas on Saturday in a Big 12-SEC showdown.’s Austin Cooper has an article up detailing the past history of the Razorbacks and Red Raiders, but for now, lets look at the 2014 Razorbacks squad and what the Red Raiders will be dealing with on Saturday.

If you’ve paid attention to the Razorbacks since former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema was hired to head Arkansas’ football program, they want to run the ball and manage the clock. So far, its hasn’t really worked against “Power 5” conference competition. Before I get into the Razorbacks potent rushing attack, lets look at their record since Bielema stepped onto campus in Fayetteville.

In 2013, the Razorbacks started out 3-0 and largely bullied Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Mississippi. Then came SEC play. After losing to Rutgers 24-28 in Piscataway, New Jersey, the Razorbacks were outscored in SEC play 135-303, losing all nine league games. Going even further back, the Razorbacks haven’t won a “Power 5” conference game since topping Kentucky 49-7 on October 13th 2012.

I wouldn’t get too caught up in the struggles of the Razorbacks past two seasons after the Bobby Petrino scandle (and the John L. Smith mess after that) set the program back. Taking into account also that the Razorbacks went from a more passing oriented team under Petrino to a largely rushing oriented team under Bielema.

Its hard to tell whether or not Arkansas is noticeably better this year. In their first game of the season, they fought hard against a possible College Football Playoff contender in the Auburn Tigers for the first half, but ended up losing 21-45 in Auburn, Alabama. Last week, the Razorbacks put up 73 points against a completely outmatched Nicholls State team. If anything, this tells us that the Razorbacks can score a lot of points against an FCS team (something Texas Tech struggled with in week 1).

When looking at the Razorbacks, you get the feeling that tomorrows game could make or break their chances at reaching a bowl game for the first time since 2012.

Their quarterback, Brandon Allen hasn’t put up great numbers in his first two games of this season, but he seems to be more of a game manager than a big number guy. He may not need to if his trio of running backs continue to impress.

Arkansas features a dynamic trio of running backs that many are saying will give the Red Raiders fits tomorrow. First is their highly touted workhorse Alex Collins. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound do it all back provides both great speed and field vision, which has helped him to 199 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries so far this year. Below is a video showing Collin’s highlights last year, even on an abysmal team as a freshman, he was pretty impressive.

Next is Jonathan Williams, a bigger back at 6-foot, 225-pounds he can run defenders over and punish opposing defenses in the red-zone. Although Williams is likely to be featured in some red-zone formations, he isn’t shy from ripping off large gains as well as he leads the team in longest rush (90 yards) so far this season. He has 177 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries in 2014.

Finally, the third back of the Razorbacks talented trio is Korliss Marshall. The 6-foot, 205-pound back is a bit leaner than Williams or Collins, and may not get the number of touches as them, but he turned in a solid effort against Auburn in week 1 with 45 yards on just eight touches. He may be the least well known of the three, but the Red Raiders better scout him because in addition to his carries, he also returned a kickoff against the Tigers for 87 yards last year as a freshman.

While these backs are certainly very talented, the sheer size of the Razorbacks offensive line really helps them get a good push up front to allow the backs to zoom through gaps at the line of scrimmage.

"The first thing that jumps out is the size this line has. The average Arkansas starter is 6 feet 5 inches tall and 320 pounds. That size is a luxury that most NFL teams don’t have. If that wasn’t scary enough, the offensive line is possibly as deep as the running backs. Throw in big guys like Cameron Jefferson and 350-pound Sebastian Tretola, and the Razorback offense can sub linemen in and out without skipping a beat."

While much has been said in a negative way about the Red Raiders defense, the Razorbacks haven’t really been a whole lot better. Even including the 73-7 massacre of Nicholls State, Brett Bielema’s squad is giving up 418.5 yards per game. Against Auburn, the Razorbacks defense gave up 595 yards, 302 of those coming on the ground. Comparing this to Texas Tech (who has admittedly had an easier schedule, despite Nicholls State being one of the worst FCS teams in the nation, winning just six games in the last 3+ seasons), the Red Raiders have given up 399.5 yards.

From the looks of all of our coverage this week previewing the Razorbacks, this has the making of a close game against a former SWC rival. Its the Air Raid vs. the Gound-n’-Pound. Big 12 vs SEC. One thing we do know, the Jones will be rocking come 2:30 tomorrow and the Red Raiders will be looking to redeem themselves for their slow start to the 2014 season. What better way than to beat an SEC team in Lubbock.