Arkansas Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Rutgers
The Arkansas Razorbacks are eager to play this week against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as they try to ease the pain of the last game against Alabama. The Razorbacks were crushed, embarrassed and at times flat out, quit.
They have now been written off as contenders by many and considered a team that wasted an opportunity.
A win against Rutgers would help silence the critics. It may not bring back title dreams, but it would be a step in the right direction, which is what this team needs right now. The Razorbacks have several areas of concern heading into this game.
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The financial problems of head coach John L. Smith surfaced once again this week.
His financial problems are no secret to the team or the media, but it just presents another line of questioning, which does not involve football that this team could face.
This is a familiar and tiring atmosphere for the Hogs, which takes the focus off of the game and hurts the team. The Razorbacks will need to avoid distractions and focus on Rutgers.
Status of Tyler Wilson
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Tyler Wilson is the leader of the team and the most talented player on the football field. Without Wilson the Razorbacks are a much different team. Wilson’s injury kept him out of the game against Alabama, but he is optimistic that he will suit up for this contest.
Wilson is under fire for calling out the team for “quitting” against Alabama, and he would seem hypocritical if he sat this one out. The Hogs need to put his health and future first, which may be why Wilson has yet to be cleared.
If the Razorbacks want to save the season with a victory, it all starts with the return of Wilson under center.
The collapse against Alabama began with a special team mishap.
A high snap in punt formation deep in their own territory quickly followed by a penalty as the Hogs tried to kick the ball out of bounds, sets the first score up for Alabama.
Later on a potential scoring drive, another botched snap on a field goal try sailed off the mark.
Although this is not the sole reason the Hogs were destroyed, it’s the little things that count in college football. If the Razorbacks fail to execute on snaps and commit penalties it could easily lead to turnovers, bad field position, and ultimately another loss.
Stop the Bleeding
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The Arkansas defense has to play better.
The defense has given up an average of 36 points per game and seem like they are dazed and confused.
The defense is last in the SEC against the pass, 93rd in total defense in the country, and 62nd nationally in rushing defense. The Rutgers offense can run the ball, and if the Hogs can’t stop it, the offense of the Razorbacks may not see much time on the field.
The time is now for the defense to step up and have a big game.
Don’t Underestimate Rutgers
Although the Big East does not match up to the SEC, the Razorbacks would be foolish to overlook the Scarlet Knights.
After getting beat by Louisiana–Monroe who reside in the Sun Belt conference, it would seem unlikely that this would happen.
However Rutgers has an impressive résumé. The Scarlet Knights have won the turnover battle in every game they have played, and they are ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense.
This could get ugly for an Arkansas team that is -8 in turnover margin dead last in the SEC.
The Razorbacks need a win and they have to approach this game like it is the most important of the season, because it is.