For the 79th time in school history, the Texas Longhorns will face the Arkansas Razorbacks and I still don’t think anyone knows what “Woo Pig Sooie” means. The last time these former Southwest Conference / future SEC rivals met was in the 2014 Texas Bowl. Tyrone Swoopes was the Texas quarterback and the Longhorns only won six games that season. You also don’t want to look for the highlights of Youtube.
The Horns lead the historic series 56-22 and will play in Fayetteville for the second time since 1991. Steve Sarkisian is looking to win last week’s 38-18 victory over the then No. 23 of Louisiana and will face a family opponent on the side of Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman.
Pittman was previously an offensive line coach in Georgia before taking over as head coach last year, going 3-7 with the Razorbacks.
Last week they got a late win against Rice, who won 38-17, but will host for the first time since 2017 a ranked opponent who does not belong to the conference.
KJ Jefferson, a second-ranked Red Shirt student, will begin his fourth career of his career against Texas, winning his first game last week against Rice and generally 1-2 as a starter.
Like Louisiana’s Levi Lewis, Jefferson is a double-threatened quarterback and last week ran 89 yards and a couple of touchdowns (9.9 points).
Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles will call up a handful of plays designed for Jefferson, especially if he has trouble throwing the ball like he did against Rice.
Texas handled Levi Lewis quite well, keeping the 19-yard negative last week (including sacks) with his longest run with an 11-yard run.
Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will want to put Jefferson and Arkansas in passing situations as much as possible, where the QB fought last week.
When the Razorbacks faced a third with four or more meters to go, they converted just twice the game. A conversion occurred on the 3rd and 6th, where Jefferson grabbed seven yards with his legs. The other came on a defensive pass interference call against Rice on the 3rd and the goal.
Passing through the third down, Jefferson was 2-on-4 for 19 yards with zero first-down conversions.
Jefferson finished with 128 yards on the air, a touchdown and that interception (former Austin LBJ Sean Fresch with the selection).
Jefferson struggled with accuracy and made a few discouraged throws, but is expected from a quarterback who only started three games in his career. It’s dangerous to assume he’ll play as badly against Texas as Rice did, for Arkansas to win Texas, however, they’ll need Jefferson to have a career.
Positionally, Arkansas is led by Treylon Burks, a full SEC team, from the second team. The junior led the team in catches (51), yards (820) and touchdowns (seven) last season and could be the best wide receiver in the country not playing in Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State.
Burks is the size of 6.3 and 225 pounds with the speed of overcoming off-line curves. He had an injury to his lower leg that caused him to miss the fall camp, but Pittman expects him to be close to 100 percent against Texas.
Jefferson attacked Burks nine times, finishing with 42 receiving yards and two unmarked drops.
They also have former four-star Hudson Henry, a highly recruited Little Rock candidate who did not record any catches against Rice. At 6’5, Henry presents a problem against the defenders, but has yet to develop a relationship with Jefferson, with only two catches in the quarterback’s three starts in Arkansas.
The Hogs found their offensive success on the ground against the Owls, running for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Junior runner Trelon Smith quietly ran 102 yards against the Owls with 22 touches.
They have a solid offensive line, with two preseason All-SEC members at center Ricky Stromberg and left-back Myron Cunningham. The group struggled at times when Rice blinked, giving up the only two sacks.
This sack reaches Jefferson: he leaves his pocket and can’t get rid of the ball.
Either way, Texas was able to fire Levi Lewis four times last week and I hope they can get Jefferson this week.
Bottom line: He Arkansas’ game plan was largely based on the run against Rice; we expect more of the same against Texas. Unless KJ Jefferson can find his pace and get the ball to Burks to open things up, it’s a tough task for a Razorback offense who only scored seven points in the first half last week and only had 17 points in the fourth quarter.
This Hogs defender has some #athletes on his list, including safety Jalen Catalon, defender Bumper Pool (the best name in college football?) And defender Grant Morgan.
Texas fans will remember Catalon, a former Longhorns target who has been up to the hype so far in Fayetteville. Perhaps last week’s MVP, the former Mansfield product ended with 11 attacks (just behind Mr. Pool) and a couple of interceptions. This kid is all over the field and just playing.
Pool and Morgan lead a strong defense corps, with Pool at the head of the SEC with his 14 attacks last week. The good news for Texas is that Pool will miss the first half of this week’s game after being sent off for attacking Rice. Morgan also finished the day early after an orientation call, though he arrived in the first half.
Arkansas is expected to recover bodyguard John Ridgeway Jr. after missing the season opener with an injury. This will help bolster a Hogs defensive line that kept a very heavy Rice team at just 81 yards (2.1 pcs). But they did lose Dorian Gerald, senior defensive end, to a season-ending injury in practice this week.
They return 10 starters on defense after a year in which they conceded 30 points or more in six games, including outings of 42 points, 50 points, 52 points and 63 points.
Bottom line: With Pool sitting in the first half, Texas will have to take advantage with runner Bijan Robinson. Catalon may influence the difference, but Hudson Card seemed positioned against a Louisiana secondary fort; as long as Texas can avoid changes, they should be able to move the ball offensively.
Week 1 is not always a fair indicator of how good / bad a team will be. Look at Iowa State every year. The result for his 38-17 victory over Rice does not tell the full story of this match. It was 17-17 entering the fourth quarter and Owls quarterback Wiley Green threw three interceptions on his last four records to help leave the game to the Razorbacks.
Rice also turned the ball upside down within the Arkansas 20-yard line. Special equipment is also a bit unstable. They allowed Rice to block a deep spot in his own territory and have a real freshman as a pointer.
But in the end, they wore out Rice, who at the end of the game faced injuries from almost every other player. I don’t think that happens against Texas.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s great to expect a Hogs team that hasn’t improved since. They also have weapons that Louisiana did not have. If Texas can run the way they did last week, I don’t see anything they can’t handle.