Five Keys to Victory - Arkansas Game Preview

Four weeks ago, this game looked like an upset special for the Aggies with No. 8 Arkansas rolling into town. However, a funny thing happened on the way to September 29. The Hogs lost three games, including upsets to both Lousiana-Monroe and Rutgers. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop lists the five keys to victory for A&M.

1. Win the Turnover Battle

One reason for A&M's success so far has been the lack of turnovers. Through three games, the Aggies have committed one turnover and that was by the second team offense in trash time last weekend. On the other hand, Arkansas has committed 12 turnovers (6 INT's, 6 fumbles) with a negative 10 turnover margin. Arkansas' offense has big play ability and if A&M's offense turns it over and gives Tyler Wilson enough chances with good field position, he will hit some big scoring plays. The Hogs have already completed four touchdown passes over 60 yards and nine TD passes overall. Give them enough opportunities and they will beat a pass defense. Arkansas is 1-3 with a couple of bad losses, but those losses can be attributed to turnovers. If they play clean, or A&M makes mistakes, this becomes a dangerous game.


2. Pressure Tyler Wilson in the Pocket

Texas A&M knows all too well the big play ability of Tyler Wilson who set a school record for the most passing yards in a game with 510 yards. He may not have as many weapons as he did in 2011, but he still has Cobi Hamilton. Regardless, Arkansas' passing game has been inconsistent at times this season with a struggling running game and shaky pass protection giving up seven sacks so far. On the other hand, the Aggies lead the nation in sacks, and individually Damontre Moore is the nation's best pass rusher. If A&M can get to Wilson and rattle him, it could be an easy day for the Aggies. If not, Arkansas could put a lot of points on the board and win this game.


3. Keep Cobi Hamilton Bottled Up

Hamilton had a record-setting day last week generating 303 receiving yards and scoring on TD receptions of 57 and 80 yards. While the A&M pass rush will need to collapse the pocket and disrupt Wilson, the secondary will need to account for Hamilton on every play. They must not allow him to break coverage over the top and score on long passing plays which is why A&M should shadow him with a safety over the top. With Arkansas' second leading receiver in tight end Chris Gragg out with injury, the defensive backfield must first stop Hamilton and force other less-experienced receivers to beat them first.


4. Stretch the Arkansas Defense

This is nothing new or enlightening to any Aggie fan who follows the team closely. Once Florida found out that they could stop Johnny Manziel and the A&M offense by jamming the receivers, bringing up the safeties into the box, and shadowing Manziel to stop the scramble, you have to figure that every SEC defensive coordinator will do the exact same thing until Manziel can prove he can beat defenses throwing over the top from the pocket. Even though Arkansas has some weaknesses, especially with speed at linebacker and pass coverage, condensing the field will mask those weaknesses until Manziel beats the defense downfield forcing the coordinator to back off and defend the entire field. When that happens, A&M should be able to take advantage of a slower Arkansas defense that must spread the field.


5. Stop the Run Early

Arkansas has struggled running ball, averaging only 98 yards per game despite playing three "weaker" teams. So I'm sure some of you are wondering why I put stopping the run as a priority? The smaller A&M defensive line has had great success stopping the run so far, giving up only 94 yards a game. However, the Aggies did have some problems stopping SMU's big running back Zach Line. Arkansas will hope to protect Wilson by trying to establish a power running game. With 225 lb. back Knile Davis, 25 lb. back Dennis Johnson, and 230 lb. veteran Ronnie Wingo, the Hogs have a lot of bacon to pound the Aggie defensive front four. If they can establish some push and force A&M to cheat some safeties into the box, that will give Hamilton and Wilson some opportunities to hit some big plays over the top.

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