Arkansas Football: It's Only Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
It's been a rough September in the state of Arkansas. The Razorbacks have dropped three of their first four games and show no signs of a turnaround following a 35-26 defeat at the hands of Rutgers in Fayetteville last weekend.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.
The Razorbacks hit the road this weekend for the first time all year to take on the Texas A&M Aggies, and are 13.5-point underdogs, according to VegasInsider.com. My, what a difference a month makes.
It couldn't be a worse matchup for the Hogs.
John L. Smith has taken the brunt of the heat in the state of Arkansas, but the Razorbacks' biggest problems are pass-blocking and defense—both of which were problems when Bobby Petrino was the head coach as well.
Those weaknesses will be exploited this weekend by Texas A&M.
The Aggies currently boast the SEC's fourth-best offense, which averages 462.3 yards per game, and redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense with an average of 301 yards per game.
While the Aggie offense will likely take advantage of a Razorback defense that's giving up an average of 458.8 yards per game, it's the Aggie defense that is licking its chops at the prospect of going up against the Hogs.
Arkansas has given up seven sacks on the season, which isn't terribly bad. That's more due to the fact that Tyler Wilson is very good at not taking sacks, rather than the offensive line's ability to pass block.
Poor pass-blocking has plagued the Hogs for the last two seasons, and that plays right into Texas A&M's strength on defense, which is pressuring the quarterback.
The Aggies lead the SEC with 16 sacks on the season, despite playing one fewer game than the rest of the teams in the conference. Damontre Moore leads all SEC defenders with six sacks already, and Spencer Nealy is tied for eighth in the conference with two.
Following the trip to College Station, the Razorbacks will travel to the Plains to take on an Auburn team that has at least a little bit of momentum after going toe-to-toe with then-No. 2 LSU last weekend.
The Tigers' offense is still a disaster, but Auburn played very well defensively against LSU and has two weeks to prepare for the reeling Razorbacks.
Will Arkansas lose its next two games and fall to 1-5?
Plus, if there's a strength for the Tigers, it's the pass rush.
Corey Lemonier has five sacks on the season, Dee Ford has two, and they are coming off an encouraging performance against LSU where they had quarterback Zach Mettenberger rattled for almost the entire game.
Plus, Auburn will be equally as desperate for a win as Arkansas will be.
It has seemed like rock bottom for Razorback fans following each of the last three losses, but with back-to-back road games against SEC West foes, there still may be further for the Arkansas football program to fall.
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