This season, Arkansas ranks second in the nation at 315.8 yards per game, more than 100 yards better than the second-best team in the SEC, LSU. The Razorbacks also average 6.4 yards per rush; Florida is next at 5.0. UT averages 4.8.
``They run the football as well as anybody,'' UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said. ``They've proven that if you want to run the football, you can run the football.''
Chavis said he's heard people say you can't run consistently well against stout SEC defenses. But Arkansas sliced up South Carolina for 542 yards, Kentucky for 338 and Alabama for 301. The only team that has contained the Hogs is Auburn, which allowed just 67 rushing yards, in part because Darren McFadden played injured.
``They've proven if you want to run the football, and you make that commitment, you can run the football,'' Chavis said.
Does the same theory apply on defense? In other words, if you want to stop the run and you make that commitment, can you stop the run?
We'll find out Saturday if a UT defense that has had trouble stopping the run against most everybody by Georgia can contain Arkansas' run game.
If UT can hold the Hogs to less than 300 rushing yards, the Vols have a good chance to win. Remember, Arkansas lost two games this season in which it ran for more than 300 yards – Alabama and Kentucky.
A year ago, Arkansas ran for 259 yards on Tennessee in a 31-14 drubbing. But UT stiffened up in the second half, holding the Hogs to 80 rushing yards and three points – the result of a turnover deep in UT territory.
McFadden had an SEC record-tying 321 yards against South Carolina. McFadden and Felix Jones need 700 combined rushing yards to break the single-season NCAA tandem record of 3,045 held by USC's Reggie Bush and LenDale White.
McFadden has great vision and speed, Chavis said. ``But the biggest thing is, he's so doggone physical,'' Chavis said. ``He's ripped. He runs hard and he has all the qualities you look for. He can carry 25 to 30 times a game. Felix Jones has a lot of the same qualities.''
While containing Arkansas' run game is a priority, so is scoring and controlling the ball. Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe knows his unit can help the defense by sustaining drives and converting on third down against the SEC's best third-down defense (27.6 percent allowed).
Last season, Arkansas played terrific press coverage, taking Robert Meachem out of the game and holding the Erik Ainge-less Vols to 7 first-half points.
Arkansas lost All-SEC corner Chris Houston but the secondary hasn't suffered. It leads the SEC in pass-defense efficiency, lowest completion percentage (43.7) and is tied for the most interceptions.
``They're the best man coverage team you'll play against,'' Cutcliffe said. ``They're not zone blitzers. They're man to man. They bring pressure and play man. They've disciplined in their man coverage better than anybody I've ever coached against and they play really hard.''
Arkansas had nine total interceptions against Ole Miss and Florida International, which combined to complete 24 of 63 passes. Auburn passed for 101 yards. Chattanooga completed 4 of 22 passes for 11 yards. North Texas was 15 of 41.
South Carolina passed for 364 yards, most of that in a wild second half.
``Take the first half against South Carolina and the previous five games, they've been unbelievable,'' Cutcliffe said. ``They may be the hottest team in the SEC right now.
``They had four sacks (against UT) a year ago and I know they'll be all over us again. It's not fun (to play against Arkansas) but the challenge is really fun to play the chess match with them. We're looking forward to see what happens.''