Yes Arkansas fans, September 24th and the game against Alabama is almost here. The Arkansas football team has only a home game against Troy left before their less-than-inspiring early season schedule is finally over. In the past, Troy has been a team that can put up points in bunches even against SEC defenses and, like Buster Douglas, have occasionally had the big boys on the ropes (LSU 2008). With that in mind, it's time to take a look at what to expect when the Razorbacks and Trojans go head-to-head this weekend.
Arkansas will face the toughest quarterback challenge this season to date when they face second-year starter Corey Robinson. Robinson passed for almost 4,000 yards last year as a freshman and two weeks ago threw for 258 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a loss to Clemson. Like New Mexico, Troy features a quick-strike passing game which makes it difficult for opposing defenses to get to the quarterback.
For Arkansas, Tyler Wilson will be going for his third win in as many starts. So far this year, Wilson has completed 72 percent of his passes for 519 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Although Wilson has put up impressive stats, he looked a bit hurried at times in Week 1 vs. Missouri State and made some questionable decisions in Week 2 against New Mexico. Wilson has been at Arkansas for so long it's easy to forget that he has only started three games in his career and is still finding his groove as a starter
The edge here clearly belongs to Wilson and the Razorbacks, but make no mistake about it that Robinson and the Trojans will move the ball if the Arkansas defense doesn't come prepared.
It's hard to believe that there was a time not so long ago when the Razorbacks were so thin at wide receiver that their leading receiver for the season was a fullback. Times have changed in the Ozarks. In two games this season, the Hogs have had 13 different players with at least one reception and six of those are averaging more than 10 yards per catch. Jarius Wright has led the way with 11 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns. There are very few teams in the country that are able to match up with the Razorback wideouts, and there is no reason to believe Troy is one of those teams after they gave up 264 yards and three touchdowns to Taj Boyd in his first collegiate start. Advantage goes to Arkansas.
If there is a particular area of concern for the Arkansas defense it is the defensive secondary, and that unit will get its biggest test of the season this weekend against Troy. The Arkansas defense has given up only 281 yards and a 55 percent completion rate against two inferior opponents. Darius Winston, Isaac Madison and the Arkansas safeties will have their work cut out for them against a team that, like the Razorbacks, has had 13 different players catch passes in just one game this season and totaled 258 yards through the air against Clemson. Eric Thomas, B.J. Chitty and Justin Albert lead the way at receiver for the Trojans. Also at receiver for the Trojans is Brett Moncrief, son of Sidney Moncrief the Arkansas basketball legend
The Arkansas secondary has potential, but until they live up to it, the advantage here goes to Troy.
The Troy defense was able to sack Clemson quarterback Taj Boyd three times and only allowed 4.6 yards per carry against the Tigers rushing attack. While Troy is not a SEC defense, it will be the toughest test that the young Arkansas offensive line has faced to date. The Hogs seemed to have better rhythm up front against New Mexico, but have still allowed too much pressure on Tyler Wilson for the level of competition they have faced. This is their last chance to work out the kinks before having to face the Alabama Crimson Tide on September 24th. The advantage here goes to the Hogs.
Arkansas and Troy both come into this game with a negative-two turnover ratio. Arkansas fans are obsessing over the running game, but for a defensive unit this hyped to have caused only one turnover this season against the likes of Missouri State and New Mexico is pretty disappointing. The lofty expectations for this Arkansas team have been based on the premise that this is Bobby Petrino's best defense since coming to Arkansas. If this is the case, then one should reasonably expect the defense to start creating more turnovers. As for the offense, Tyler Wilson has a decent touchdown/interception ration of 3:1 and the team has lost one fumble. This matchup is even.
It is clear already this season that the Hogs have more talent and depth than any time in the past two decades. While they have played less-than-perfect football thus far, they will clearly be the more talented team on the field Saturday. Arkansas 38, Troy 10. What is your prediction?