Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
FAYETTEVILLE OFFENSE Quarterback
6-4, 247 pounds, the Nebraska transfer who was nursing an ailing throwing shoulder for a couple of weeks before sitting out a 28-24 victory over Rice on Oct. 20, looks ready to start for Tulsa after an open week.
Green’s numbers (107 of 205 for 1,329 yards, 10 TDs, 6 interceptions) aren’t eye-catching, but he’s operated the run-first Tulsa attack well and he’s 10-1 as a starter. His 116.9 efficiency rating is No. 93 in the nation. Sophomore
Kalen Henderson, who started against Rice, is 15 of 45 for 269 yards with 1 TD and 2 ints.
(148 of 248, 2,254 yards, 16 TD, 7 ints.) is completing less than 60 percent of his passes (.597) for the first time this season. Wilson forced a few throws last week and had 2 picked off - and it could have been more. His 322 passing yards per game rank No. 6 in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC.
His 151.67 efficiency rating is No. 24 nationally.
Running back Tulsa mixes in runners as well as any team Arkansas has played since Alabama.
6-1, 260 pounds, is the bruiser and goal-line guy with 15 touchdowns this year and a school-record 34 in his career. The senior (113, carries, 495 yards) has 10 TDs in the past 4 games. Junior
(89-702, 6 TDs, 7.9 yards per carry) has 3 100-yard games and leads the FBS with 4 runs of 60-plus yards. All 7 of the 5-11, 189-pounder’s career TDs have been scored from 15 yards or longer. Junior
(73-507, 2, 6.9 ypc) is the best pass catcher of the group with 16 catches for 176 yards.
(83-489, 6 TDs, 5.9 ypc) has assumed Arkansas’ lead back role from
Knile Davis, who will sit out today with a hamstring injury.
Johnson rushed for career highs of 27 carries for 161 yards last week and had 83 yards after contact.
(25-123, 4.9 ypc) had 5 carries for 28 yards last week, but he wasn’t a factor in the passing game after catching two for touchdowns against Kentucky.
(10-53, 1) has been slowed by a shoulder injury. Fullback
is mostly a lead blocker with 3 receptions for 29 yards.
(28, receptions, 443 yards, 5 TDs) became Tulsa’s top target after
Bryan Burnham, an 850-yard receiver in 2011, was lost with a knee injury in Week 1. Garrett, a 6-4, 207-pounder, will be a matchup issue for the Hogs. Garrett’s cousin is
David Mims, a former Baylor and Kansas City Chiefs player. H-back
6-2, 231, has 25 receptions for 218 yards and 2 scores, with 3 career 100-yard games.
6-3, 205, a Nebraska transfer, has 3 catches for 30 yards.
(20-283, 1 TD) has 18 career starts. The tight ends are
Cody Wilson, neither of whom have a catch.
(58-900, 4 TDs, 15.5 yards per catch) is having a massive season.
He is 10th nationally with 7.3 catches and 112.5 yards per game. Combined production from the other wideouts in the last game: 4 catches, 48 yards.
(8-113, 2) is improving.
(10-171, 3) had his 2-game streak of scoring a touchdown snapped.
(13-193, 1) has been quiet lately. The Hogs are preparing for a fourth game without top tight end
Chris Gragg, who had 3 receptions and a touchdown in one half vs. Ole Miss before reinjuring his leg. Tight end
had his first catch and first career touchdown last week, and
(9-74) nearly had his first, wiped out by a penalty.
(15-257) is out because of an off-the-field issue.
LineTulsa has a seasoned line with three seniors, a junior and a sophomore in the starting lineup, but it’s one of the smallest faced by Arkansas at an average of 6-3, 294 pounds. Senior center
Trey Dupy, on the Rimington Trophy watch list given to the nation’s top center, has 44 career starts and 41 in a row. Seniors
anchor the unit at the tackle spots, while sophomore
Stetson Burnett, a 26-game starter, are the top guards. The unit makes things happen for the nation’s No. 9 rushing offense (248.8 yards per game) and its No. 52 total offense (382.8). The Hurricane are No. 3 nationally in allowing 0.5 sacks per game. Arkansas had a solid running game last week and will look to build on it vs. Tulsa. Center
Travis Swanson, also a Rimington Trophy nominee, and guard
Alvin Bailey, a preseason All-SEC selection, are both set to make their 35th career starts.
Bailey will be flanked at tackle by either
or Jason Peacock. The former walk-ons
and David Hurd man the quick guard and tackle spots, respectively. Arkansas is No. 100 in rushing (122.1), No. 17 in passing (306.6) and tied for No. 35 with 1.5 sacks allowed per game.
DEFENSE Line Tulsa leads the country with 35 sacks for 255 lost yards, an average of 4.4 sacks per game.
The Hurricane are No. 2 with 9.4 tackles for loss per game. Seniors
Jared St. John
(30 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 7 sacks) and
(24, 5.5, 2) are productive starting ends.
Dorris has 45 career starts, St. John 9. End
(14, 5.5, 1) had a critical three play stretch vs. Rice with a 7-yard TFL, a pass breakup and a 4-yard sack that led to missed 47-yard FG.
(13, 4.5, 2) also rotates at end. Tulsa’s top tackles are also both seniors:
(31, 7, 3.5) and
(22, 4 TFL), with support from freshman
(13, 4 TFL).
Arkansas, fifth in the SEC and tied for 31st with 2.5 sacks per game, expects senior tackle
(13, 1.5 TFL, 4 PBU) back to add strength to a rotation featuring
(35, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack), Alfred Davis (25, 1.5 TFL),
(16, 4, 2 sacks) and
(15, 4.5, 2, 4 hurries). Run stopping will be at a premium for the Hogs’ front, which includes starting ends
(29, 6.5, 4.5, 8 hurries) and
(24, 7, 4.5, 7 hurries) and backups
(10, 1 hurry) and
(8, 1.5 TFL, 1 hurry).
Linebacker Tulsa’s 75 tackles for loss lead the nation.
(82 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 8 sacks) has started at all 3 spots and is now at middle linebacker. His sacks have totaled 60 yards in losses. Weakside starter
(44, 5.5, 1.5), who has 3 career touchdowns, missed the first 3 games for a violation of team rules.
(25, 2.5, 2) starts at the “Cane” position on the strong side. Reserves
(20, 6, 2),
(19, 1) and Jake Sizelove (13)have been relatively productive. Tulsa ranks No. 26 against the run (121.1 yards per game) and No. 52 in total defense (382.8). Arkansas’ linebacker rotation is extremely limited, with senior Tulsa native
leading the way in the middle with 45 tackles, 2.5 TFL, a pass breakup and a hurry. Freshmen
(23) and Otha Peters (10) have begun taking lots of snaps since the injuries to senior captains
Alonzo Highsmith and
Secondary Three seniors in the Tulsa backfield round out a defense with eight senior starters. Safety
(52 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 5 pass breakup) has a school record 15 career interceptions. Free safety
(43, 2 PBU, 1 int.), with 33 career starts, is the lone junior. Cornerbacks
(35, 6 PBU, 2 ints., 2 forced fumbles) and
(12, 1 PBU) have a combined 51 career starts, 210 tackles and 28 PBU.
(17, 2 PBU) also sees time at corner. The Hurricane gave up 337 passing yards and 3 TDs to Alabama-Birmingham’s Arkansas-like offense and hasn’t seen the array of skill talent the Hogs possess.
has taken over Arkansas’ team lead with 61 tackles. He also leads the team with 3 interceptions and 4 pass breakups, and has 5.5 TFLs. Freshman
(55, 1 PBU, 1 hurry) and junior Eric Bennett (27, 3 PBU) take most of the reps at safety.
(19, 3 PBU, 2 forced fumbles) is back in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game opposite freshman
(19, 1 int., 1 PBU), who has had an adventure in on-the-job training fresh out of high school.
is the nation’s No. 3 kickoff returner (34.6-yard average) and his work, including a 95-yard TD return against Marshall, has helped Tulsa rank No. 5 in kick returns. The Hurricane are No. 52 in punt returns (9.2). Senior
has 6 career blocked kicks. True freshman kicker
is 7 of 11 on field goals, 37 of 39 on extra-point attempts and his 58 points are the fifth-most among freshman kickers this season. Sophomore punter
ranks No. 65 with a 40.7-yard average, and the Hurricane are No. 77 in net punting (36.2). Arkansas has not been flashy in the return game, with senior
No. 94 (18.9) in kick returns after a bad game last week. Freshman
(4.9) will apparently take over punt returns from
(7.6) this week, and both have had a couple of muffs. Punter
(45.2) is 11th nationally after a down week, and the Hogs fell 24 spots to No. 31 in net punting (39.2) after having one blocked vs. Ole Miss.
Zach Hocker is 7 of 11 on field-goal attempts, 27 of 27 on extra-point attempts, but isn’t getting the scoring action he saw the past 2 seasons.
Intangibles The Golden Hurricane see a struggling opponent and a chance to make a regional neighbor hurt even worse while advancing their case as a potential BCS buster. Despite a narrow escape (28-24) against lowly Rice in its last outing, Tulsa will be brimming with confidence today in its quest to snap a 17-game losing streak against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas has suffered injury upon indignity all season, with only a few more chances to knock off quality teams. The Razorbacks’ roster is brimming with Tulsa-area and eastern Oklahoma talent, so pride is an incentive.
Arkansas must beat the Hurricane for homecoming and LSU in the season finale to even its record (4-4) at home.
Key match up
Arkansas’ tackling and run-stopping vs. Tulsa’s ground game
The Hurricane run a trio of talented backs - Ja’Terian Douglas, Alex Singleton and Trey Watts - in and out of the game, while Arkansas does little substituting in its back seven. Tulsa ranks No. 9 in rushing offense (248.8 yards per game), while the Razorbacks are No. 30 against the run (123.4)
Sports, Pages 22 on 11/03/2012