Arkansas finished 3-9 last year in head coach Bret Bielema's first season in Fayetteville. Bilema compiled a 68–24 record in seven seasons at Wisconsin and led the Badgers to three Rose Bowl appearances.
Bielema, who is known for employing a physical, ball control running game style of offense, led the Razorbacks to a 3-0 start in 2013 before they dropped their final nine games, including all eight against SEC opponents.
Arkansas does return some elite talent this season, including a pair of standouts profiled below.
|Offensive Player to Watch|
|Alex Collins||RB||SO||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||5-11||215||Joe Yeager|
It is entirely possible that the best running back Texas Tech will see in 2014 will be Arkansas’ super sophomore Alex Collins.
In 2013 he was arguably the nation’s best freshman running back, which wasn't a huge surprise really given that all major recruiting services had rated him among the very best high school running backs in 2012.
Collins’ statistics and accomplishments last season were impressive to say the least. He carried 190 times for 1,026 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and caught 11 passes for 63 yards. Collins was the first player in SEC history to begin his career with three straight 100-yard rushing games, and was the first FBS player to accomplish that feat since some guy named Adrian Peterson did it in 2004.
Collins, like most great backs, got stronger late in games. In the fourth quarter he rushed for a combined 355 yards, which was second most in the SEC and 13th best nationally.
For his efforts, Collins was named a freshman All-American by virtually every organization that publishes such a team.
The Razorbacks like to hand Collins the ball deep in the backfield and allow him to use his good vision to find holes. Most of the holes he finds are to the outside and he definitely has enough speed not only to get to the edge, but also to run away from the vast majority of defensive backs.
Collins is a no-nonsense runner. With him there’s little hesitation and tap dancing in the hole. He gets the rock and makes decisive bursts north and south. Collins is also a strong and physical runner who finishes runs well. Collins is not, however, a back with loads of wiggle. His game is built around speed and power, both of which he possesses in abundance. Slowing down Alex Collins will be the primary challenge Texas Tech faces when the Razorbacks invade Jones Stadium for the first time since 1991.
|Defensive Player to Watch|
|Trey Flowers||DE||SR||Huntsville, AL||6-4||267||Jarret Johnson|
The SEC is known for it s defensive linemen and the Razorbacks have one of the best in the conference in Trey Flowers.
The 6-foot-4, 267-pound senior defensive end was a second-team All-SEC performer in 2013 and was recently named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list.
It's easy to see why both on paper and on film.
Flowers tallied 44 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, five sacks, five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and an interception in 2013. He has amassed 122 tackles (11th in school history), 32 for loss and 12 sacks (16th) over his stellar career.
Though not a speedy player, Flowers can get to the quarterback in a hurry once he gets going. He's also fundamentally sound in both his containment and run gap responsibilities.
Flowers can definitely disrupt the Red Raiders passing attack, but Tech will probably have a harder time blocking him in the run game. Flowers is adept at holding his ground when opposing offenses choose to run right at him and generally makes the play or turns rushers back inside where help can clean up.
Arkansas will move him around some too, so Texas Tech tackles Le'Raven Clark and Rashad Fortenberry will both have their hands full with Flowers, but he is not the type of speed rusher they each have struggled against in the past.