At first glance, the answer is a resounding and unequivocal no. However, before you begin laughing hysterically at the thought of the Razorbacks getting a win against Johnny and the Aggies, take a moment and follow us down the the rabbit hole of the implausible, but not impossible.
The hype surrounding Johnny Manziel this season has reached a near gargantuan level, and rightfully so. Mr. Manziel put up herculean numbers against the defending National Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, in an exciting game that saw the Tide barely escape Kyle Field with a win. Johnny Manziel is the real deal, lets get that out of the way. He will have 400+ yards against anybody he plays, and that in itself is enough to give defensive coordinators a bleeding ulcer. Trying to shut-down Johnny Manziel is not the way to beat the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are in the midst of a rebuilding year. New Coach Bret Bielema brought his brand of smash-mouth, hard-nosed football with him from Wisconsin, where the badgers were very successful under his leadership. However, Arkansas is not a tough team, in fact the opposite can be said for the remnants of Bobby Petrino’s high-flying, high-octane teams, hence the reason for the term “rebuilding”.
The Razorbacks have shown vast improvement from the 4 win team of 2012. Arkansas is now known as a run first, pass second offense, which puts the spotlight on Freshman Alex Collins and Sophmore Jonathan Williams. Through the first 3 games of the season, Collins and Williams both ran for over 100 yards each game, with Collins setting an SEC record for a Freshman. This is all great news for the Razorbacks as they will need every inch of turf these two dynamic running backs can give them, if they are going to have any chance at all at beating Texas A&M.
So, how can Arkansas get the win against a team that nearly beat Alabama?
The answer is simple, Keep away; keep the football out of the hands of Johnny Football. The Razorbacks can do this by running the ball. Getting three to four yards every down will be the key, and for a team that is averaging 5.1 yards a carry, that goal doesn’t seem so far out of reach. The Hogs will also have to control the clock and win the time of possession battle. Through four games Arkansas is averaging 34:59 of time with the ball, and will need to continue to improve on this if they are to have a shot at the Aggies.
Arkansas will also need to force Manziel into 3rd and long situations, where he is forced to pass. The Razorbacks boast four interceptions through four games, and with all SEC defensive players Chris Smith and Trey Flowers ranking in the top 5 in sacks (5.5 and 3), the pressure on Johnny Manziel will be brought early and often. However, Arkansas must contain Manziel and not let him scramble, which in itself is a near impossible task. If Smith and Flowers can get enough pressure on Johnny Football and force him to pass on the run, Arkansas will have a shot at some interceptions.
In summation, Arkansas must control the clock, keep the ball out of the hands of Johnny Manziel, and force at least two turnovers if they are to have any shot in hell at beating Texas A&M. Pretty easy huh? Thanks for following us down the rabbit hole this week, I hope you didn’t take the blue pill.