How Arkansas and Texas A&M compare at each position

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, October 31, 2020
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller (28) gestures during an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller (28) gestures during an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Feleipe Franks (82-128-3, 974 yards, 8 TD, .641 completions) has taken all but one significant snap with the exception of goal-line packages for KJ Jefferson and Malik Hornsby. Franks is 39th in passer efficiency (143.9) and 29th with 243.5 passing ypg. The coaches would like to see quicker decisions from Franks, whether it’s scrambles or throwaways.

The numbers for Kellen Mond (80-130-2, 984 yards, 9 TD, .615 completions) are quite similar to those of Franks. Mond’s rushing numbers (22-46) are down from previous years. The fourth-year starter is 28th in the FBS with 246 passing ypg, and 35th in passing efficiency (145.2). Mond has hurt the Hogs with his legs in previous games.

ADVANTAGE Texas A&M

Running backs

The big question for Arkansas nearly halfway through the season is when will Rakeem Boyd (33-88, 1 TD, 2.7 ypc) and the run game be unleashed? His longest carry is 8 yards in 3 games, and the team’s longest is 19 yards by KJ Jefferson. Trelon Smith (56-221, 3.9 ypc) has been a solid backup and has powered for yards between the tackles.

Isaiah Spiller (64-430, 4 TD) leads the SEC with 6.72 yards per carry with a blend of speed, power and vision. His 107.5 ypg ranks 19th in the FBS and 2nd in the SEC. Former wideout Ainias Smith (30-155, 1, 5.2 ypc) gets about half the work of Spiller and also sports a hefty yards per carry. The Aggies are 44th nationally with 172.3 rushing yards per game.

ADVANTAGE Texas A&M

Receivers/tight ends

Treylon Burks (19 catches, 249 yards, 2 TDs) has emerged as one of the best in the nation as a sophomore. Mike Woods (14-185, 1) has been a steady go-to option for Franks. De’Vion Warren (11-231, 3) has proven dangerous. TEs Blake Kern (6-71) and Hudson Henry (6-42, 1) are coming on, while the Hogs need more from Trey Knox (4-33) and Tyson Morris (3-38).

Tight end Jalen Wydermyer (19 catches, 181 yards) is Mond’s top target after Jhamon Ausbon opted out and Caleb Chapman (14-197, 3) was lost for the season. The 6-5 Wydermyer makes for a tough matchup. The tailback Smith (17-223, 3) is dangerous out of the backfield. Chase Lane (16-222, 2), Jalen Preston (6-66) and Kam Brown (5-55) are key contributors.

ADVANTAGE Arkansas

Line

The Razorbacks have been going 7 deep, with LT Myron Cunningham, LG Brady Latham, C Ricky Stromberg and RT Noah Gatlin starting all 4 games. Senior Ty Clary and RS frosh Beaux Limmer have split 4 starts at RG, and Dalton Wagner has contributed well at RT. The starting unit averages 6-5, 306 pounds. Establishing running lanes vs. Texas A&M is critical.

The “Maroon Goons” are one of the most effective fronts in the FBS, having allowed just 2 sacks. Tackles Carson Green and Dan Moore Jr., and guards Kenyon Green and Jared Hocker are all returning starters. Center Ryan McCollum, a reserve in ’19, has 18 career starts. The group averages 6-5, 316 pounds, the kind of size Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman is aiming to reach.

ADVANTAGE Texas A&M

DEFENSE

Line

The Razorbacks alternate between 3- and 4-man fronts. DTs Jonathan Marshall (16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 hurry), Isaiah Nichols (7, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU) and Xavier Kelly (4, 1 hurry), and ends Zach Williams (19, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack), Eric Gregory (13, 1.5 sacks, 1 hurry), Julius Coates (6, 1, 1), and Mataio Soli (3) get the most run. Dorian Gerald (4, 1.5 sacks) could return from an ankle injury.

All four starters return. Bobby Brown (9, 1 sack, 1 hurry) is a 325-pound rock at DT, pairing with 295-pound Jayden Peevy (16, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 hurries, 1 FR). Top ends are Michael Clemons (12, 3 sacks, 1 hurry) and Tyree Johnson (4, 1 PBU) with DeMarvin Leal (11, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 4 hurries) producing the best stats on the front as a super substitute.

ADVANTAGE Even

Linebackers

MLB Grant Morgan (52, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 3 PBU) is coming off a career game while playing hurt. If Bumper Pool (36, 1 TFL, 4 PBU) can return to health, the Razorbacks will sport two of the most productive linebackers in the land. Hayden Henry (16, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU) has played well. Andrew Parker (3) and Jackson Woodard (1) have contributed.

Senior Buddy Johnson (42, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU) is a 230-pound veteran force in the middle who had 7 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1 hurry and 1 PBU in last year’s game. Senior Aaron Hansford (24, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 hurry), a 6-3, 245-pounder, moved over from tight end and has become a big contributor. The top reserves are Andre White (15, 1 PBU) and Chris Russell Jr. (3).

ADVANTAGE Arkansas

Secondary

CB has undergone a big transition. Montaric Brown (6, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU) should be back to pair with Hudson Clark (15, 3 INT, 1 PBU), Khari Johnson 5, 1 PBU) and NBs Greg Brooks Jr. (18, 2.5 TFL, 2 INT) and LaDarrius Bishop (5). Safeties Jalen Catalon (45, 1 INT, 2 PBU), Joe Foucha (20, 2 INT), Simeon Blair (10, 2 PBU), Myles Mason (9) and Myles Slusher (3, 1 FR) have delivered.

Safeties Leon O’Neal (21, 2 TFL, 1 INT) and Demani Richardson (24, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU) and CB Myles Jones (18, 1, 1, 1) are returning starters. Jaylon Jones (15, 1 PBU) is the other top CB. NBs are Devin Morris (16, 1 TFL, 1 PBU) and Erick Young (4). Safety Keldrick Carper (8, 1 PBU) had 10 tackles vs. Hogs last year. Brian Williams (4, 1 sack) is brother of ex-Hog Rawleigh Williams III.

ADVANTAGE Even

Special teams

The Hogs have used rotating punters, with Reid Bauer (44.3) coming off a big game backing up George Caratan (45.4). Team is No. 76 in net punting (35.2). Negatives: 2 punt blocks and allowing a 47-yard fake punt. Vito Calvaruso has 8 touchbacks on 17 kickoffs, but has had 2 go out of bounds. Return men De’Vion Warren, Treylon Burks and Nathan Parodi haven’t gotten it going yet.

Kickoff man Caden Davis has 19 touchbacks on 21 kicks, a sterling ratio. The new punter Nik Constantinou averages 42.2 yards on 10 punts with 3 inside the 20. The Aggies are No. 52 in net punting (39.1). Seth Small is 4 of 5 on FGs, 14 of 14 on PATs. Punt returns are strong with a 9.5 yard average, but two kickoff returns by Chase Lane have netted just 10 yards.

ADVANTAGE Texas A&M

Intangibles

The bye week should allow key defenders Montaric Brown, Bumper Pool and Dorian Gerald to be healthier and closer to returning. The Razorbacks have had to prepare with silent counts and hand signals for what is likely to be the biggest and loudest crowd they will see. These streak-breaking Hogs could snap an 8-game skid to the Aggies, so that’s big incentive.

The Aggies also had a week to rest up and they’ll have the advantage of what has been the largest allowed crowd in the SEC. After a 52-24 pounding vs. No. 2 Alabama, the Aggies upset No. 4 Florida so they have a backdoor shot at the CFP. Texas A&M is riding an 8-game win streak in the series and crunched the Hogs 58-10 in the last game at Kyle Field in 2012.

ADVANTAGE Texas A&M

Discussion

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