Texas A&M at Arkansas – SEC Schedule Starts for Razorbacks
UPDATE – 9/27/13
FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team practiced Thursday afternoon and head coach Bret Bielema met with media afterwards, addressing the team’s preparation for this Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Bielema spoke on the return of sophomore safety Rohan Gaines.
“Rohan Gaines is back one hundred percent,” Bielema said. “We really feel excited to get him back in the lineup. He has been moving around extremely well.”
Bielema talked about the contagious energy of the younger players on the offensive line.
“I like the growth they’re having,” Bielema said. “Last week, we repped those young guys even more and it’s easy to see that they love to play the game. I go back to Dan Skipper, when he blocked that field goal. He and Denver Kirkland double teamed that guard. They were about as excited as anybody I’ve ever seen. To get that energy and put it on the field, a lot of times that can help you out.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s sold-out SEC opener against Texas A&M inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
FAYETTEVILLE - University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema met with the media on Monday to preview Saturday’s game against No. 10 Texas A&M in Fayetteville.
Bielema discussed the process of learning from Arkansas’s (3-1) first loss of the season and what the Razorbacks must do to grow from it and progress moving forward.
“It was something that unfortunately we had to go through,” Bielema said. ”I think sometimes, in my head coaching career, some of the biggest disappointing losses, heartaches propel you to something better in the future. That’s hopefully what we’re going to be able to build upon.”
Coach Bielema said it should not be difficult for the Razorbacks to quickly turn the page heading into game preparation this week with energy and excitment for the tremendous challenge ahead in beginning Southeastern Conference play against Texas A&M.
“From our standpoint as coaches, we want to make it a big game,” Bielema said. ”Texas A&M has got a loss. We’ve got a loss. They’re a top-10 team and have the returning Heisman Trophy candidate. With a sold-out crowd, I’ve never seen Donald W. Reynolds (Razorback Stadium) completely packed, so it’s going to be exciting and hopefully a very, very loud atmosphere.
“It’s something that our kids are excited about and have been talking about for a long time. It’s a tremendous opportunity in front of us.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s sold-out SEC opener against Texas A&M inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
For what it’s worth, Texas A&M is 105th in rushing defense through four games and 110th in total defense. There are records for 123 teams in the FBS for games played through Saturday, Sept. 23, 2013. Arkansas’ defense is 17th overall, 13th against the rush and 45th in passing yards allowed.
On the flip side, Texas A&M is 5th in total offense. Arkansas is 70th.
FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas football team continued game week preparation on Tuesday for its SEC opener on Saturday vs. Texas A&M.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney met with the media and discussed Tuesday’s practice.
“I thought we had one of our better practices today,” Chaney said. “It was a lot of fun. The kids were enthusiastic and had good energy. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. We had a lot of new stuff, but they handled it well. They learned from the meetings and then went out on the field and performed.”
Chaney also commented on what the offense needs to focus on for Saturday’s game.
“Our job is to go out and execute our offense,” Chaney said. “Offense is all about execution. We have to be able to go out there and do that from the beginning of the game and we cannot have valleys. We need to stay in front of the chains and go out there and enjoy what we are doing.”
Bielema said Monday that he hopes to have Allen take part in a limited portion of practice when Arkansas returns to the field on Tuesday. The quarterback hasn’t thrown in practice since injuring his shoulder in the first quarter against the Golden Eagles, and Bielema said he won’t set a recovery deadline for Allen before Saturday’s game.
“If (Allen) at any point, even if it’s not until Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, says that he can go and the doctors give him 100 percent, we’ll go that direction,” Bielema said.
Bielema said Derby performed as well as could be expected, well enough that he didn’t consider replacing him with freshman Austin Allen — Brandon Allen’s younger brother and the team’s No. 2 quarterback while the elder Allen is hurt.
Regardless of quarterback play, any team that needs to draw moral victories against Rutgers cannot hang in America’s best conference. That doesn’t necessarily make Arkansas a bad team—because it isn’t.
It just means it’s in for a world of upcoming hurt.
But a defense that can’t stop a quarterback like the Scarlet Knights’ Gary Nova (and a special teams that allows a momentum-changing punt return touchdown) is not a unit that can hang in the SEC. Ten years ago, it might have stood a chance. But in 2013, the year of the Southeastern offense, it’s pretty hard to fathom.
Rutgers picked Arkansas’ defense apart when the game mattered most on Saturday. If the Razorbacks let Nova look like John Elway, how astronomically hopeless will it look against JohnnyManziel and AJ McCarron? How will it get a fourth-quarter stop against Connor Shaw and Zach Mettenberger?
How will it contain Bo Wallace, or even Auburn’s Nick Marshall?
Bret Bielema has this program on the right track, and the current iteration of the team might be able to surprise some opponents and hang for four quarters in certain games. When a team can run the ball like Arkansas—especially at home—it always stands a chance of controlling the clock.
… What’s funniest to me about this, as much fans can be homers, I have not seen a single Arkansas fan say, “you know, that sounds about right.” Everybody I’ve seen is willing to take out a second mortgage or use their life savings to place the bet.
Is there any reason at all the line could be three points? Some might say A&M’s rushing defense is ranked pretty low nationally, which should be an advantage for Arkansas. But really, is it worse than Samford or Southern Miss?
I’m not trying to say Arkansas has no chance of winning, you’ve always got a chance – especially at home, but thinking about the game from an oddsmaking perspective it doesn’t make any sense to have a tiny spread. It’s true that the Aggies weren’t so great in their first couple of road games last year, and if there’s hope to cling to, that’s it.
Can Johnny Manziel and Co. average 44.5 PPG again this year? They might have to unless Kevin Sumlin can find capable replacements for DE Damontre Moore and LBs Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart.
Editor’s Note: For what it’s worth, Arkansas’ defense preseason was picked the 8th best to Texas A&M’s 11th best in the SEC by Lost Letterman.
It’s not saying much that A&M turned in its best defensive performance of the year on Saturday against SMU due to those aforementioned struggles. While there were certainly highlights in the 42-13 win, including three forced turnovers, the Mustangs also gained 434 yards of offense.
“It’s a work in progress,” defensive coordinator Mark Snyder told reporters after the win in a rather self-evident statement.
For all of the skill that Manziel and the rest of the offense continue to exhibit, it’s just not possible to keep winning with a defense that’s 90th in the country in scoring (30.3 PPG). As we saw with West Virginia last year when the wheels came off in Morgantown after a 5-0 star and No. 5 national ranking, opponents catch on.
They have two ways to beat you: Either they are able to go score-for-score with you (Ole Miss on October 12th fits this descriptor to a “T”) or they find a way to contain your offense (LSU did that in its win over A&M last year and have the personnel to do it again at Tiger Stadium on November 23rd).
In a survey completed this week, only 49 percent of respondents indicated they found Manziel appealing, significantly lower than the 87 percent average for the 1,400 athletes tracked. Data from a survey conducted in January 2013, just after Manziel’s Heisman win, shows 97 percent of respondents found him appealing. While Manziel suffered a decrease in appeal of 50 percent during the past 8 months, the survey also showed his awareness went up 67 percent during the same time period.
When asked to choose from a list of attributes describing Manziel, respondents selected rude, 27 percent; overexposed, 43 percent; and insincere, 19 percent. These numbers increased dramatically from the prior survey, which showed the number of respondents selecting those attributes as being significantly lower (rude, 2 percent; overexposed, 5 percent; insincere, 5 percent).
E-Score surveyed 1,100 persons with general representation across income, age, education and geographic demographics to represent a cross-section of the U.S. population.