The show must go on.
Georgia Bulldog fans had a rough weekend in Columbia as the South Carolina Gamecocks literally ran to a 17-6 victory. The loss was both painful to watch and discouraging to sleep on, but the season must continue, and Georgia, now unranked, will have a shot at redemption this Saturday.
The No. 12 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks pull into Athens to face the Bulldogs in their first SEC game of the year. Ryan Mallett, Greg Childs, and company, will look to continue their winning ways, and perhaps gain a little more ground in the polls.
Both teams are vying for respect for different reasons, and, if last year is any indication, this should be an intriguing match-up.
So, let's get started:
1. The offense still centers around Ryan Mallett's arm.
In two games so far, Mallett has 701 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. Much like last season, Arkansas is not shy about airing the ball out to their talented corps of receivers. Mallett has a big arm, great size, and he's pretty good at using both to his advantage. He won't beat you with his legs, but he has good field vision and above average pocket-presence. If he's given time to scan the field, he can make any throw he chooses—he's that good.
2. Arkansas does have talent at running back.
The running game hasn't been showcased as much as the passing game, but that doesn't mean there isn't one present. Petrino has a small arsenal of backs, all of whom are capable of making it happen between the tackles, if necessary. Knile Davis, Broderick Green, Dennis Johnson, and Ronnie Wingo are all capable of contributing significant carries.
3. They have one of the most talented receiving corps in the SEC.
Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and D.J. Williams (TE) are capable of making any secondary nervous.
Childs has the size and physicality, Wright has the blazing speed, Adams has the finesse, and Williams has the sure hands you want in a critical down situation. Each one of them has a skill set to bring to the table, and together they form a potent unit of talented hands for Mallett to play catch with on Saturdays.
4. The offensive line is solid.
This unit returned four starters in 2010. Not only is Mallett a well-protected commodity standing tall behind four veteran linemen but the running game has a solid foundation for success once it does get going. Combined, the line of Arkansas boast more than 90 starts and plenty of consistency.
Led by senior offensive tackle DeMarcus Love, the Razorbacks tout one of the best scoring offenses in the country. Love, along with Ray Dominguez, are entering their third season with Bobby Petrino at the helm and they know the playbook, they know the scheme, and they know how to protect their quarterback.
5. The defense has shown improvement.
Last year, the Razorbacks were not very good defensively, particularly in the secondary. However, this season has looked promising. They are currently No. 1 in the SEC in both total defense and pass defense. So far this season, they have allowed a total of 10-points to be scored by their opponents.
Of course, that number could be deceiving based on the fact that the defense hasn't played a quality opponent yet but the fact remains this isn't the same pushover of a unit that was routinely beaten for big yards in the passing game last season.
6. They aren't protecting the ball well.
For all the veteran talent the Razorbacks possess this year, their achilles heel thus far has been their inability to protect the ball. In two games they've fumbled the ball seven times (losing three).
There is little indication as to why this is happening, but it is something that they have been actively trying to get a handle on over the last few weeks.
7. Time of Possession isn't a major factor in their offense.
The Arkansas offense is still one that relies on rhythm and quick strikes down the field. They are not a grind it out kind of football team—yet. They are willing to sacrifice a long ground game for a short, effective, passing one, because that has worked for them thus far.
In two games, they have controlled the ball for a total of 59 minutes. That's roughly 29:30 minutes per game. By comparison, the average SEC opponent maintains possession for about 30:20. If that number seems minimal and unimportant, just ask a fan of college football how much damage can be done in 60 seconds.
8. They are solid on the defensive line.
DeQuinta Jones is, arguably, one of the best defensive tackles in the SEC. He splashed on the scene in 2009 and set the tone for a stellar freshman campaign—albeit one shortened by injury. He is a massive presence on the inside and a serious threat to the run game. Add to that the stellar talents of Jake Bequette, an All-SEC player, and you have an Arkansas front that won't back down against anyone.
9. Special teams play is a mixed bag.
Alex Tejada has shown some improvement in his consistency this season and has been strong on kickoffs, thus far. However, the Razorback punting game isn't where it needs to be if they want to win the battle of field position in the SEC. Currently, they rank dead last in the conference in net punting average (32.33 ypg). On the flip side, they are ranked 10th in the nation in kickoffs.
10. They are money in the redzone.
The Razorbacks don't waste any points once they get inside the 20. They are 10 for 10 on trips to the redzone—nine of those attempts were touchdowns. Petrino has plenty of ways to beat you if you give a little too much.
(This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter)