In those three wins, which included LSU (No. 20) and Ole Miss (No. 8) in addition to the Horns, the Hog defense gave up a grand total of seven points.
Thus, while it is understandable why many people point to the outstanding Razorback offensive line and a pair of returning 1,000-yard rushers as the program’s glory, it is that defense that should worry foes as much as anything. But in point of fact, Arkansas should be stout on both sides of the ball, and that is why they’ll threaten every team they play.
|Offensive Player to Watch|
|Jonathan Williams||RB||SR||Allen, TX||6-0||225||4 rushing TDs against Tech in 2014|
Along with Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams was one of two Arkansas backs to rush for at least 1,000 yards in 2014. Williams led the team with 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per tote. He is currently No. 10 in career rushing yardage at Arkansas.
Williams’ defining characteristic as a back is his power. He takes on tacklers and plows through them. Few defenders will get him to the ground alone in the open field; Williams is just too strong and deflects the blow too well. He is also an extremely determined back who is always looking to extend runs and get a few more on the tail end. Toward that end Williams rarely goes out of bounds on his own but does so only when forced.
Williams does not have blazing speed, but is fast enough to take it to the house against most defenses. And finally, he reads his blocks exceptionally well, which means that Williams maximizes the potential of each carry.
|Defensive Player to Watch|
|Brooks Ellis||LB||JR||Fayetteville, AR||6-2||240||FF, 4 PBU against Tech in 2014|
The linchpin of Arkansas’ outstanding defense will be linebacker Brooks Ellis. As a sophomore he started in the middle but for 2015 will patrol the field from his WILL position where his productivity is expected to increase. But he was active enough last season to earn preseason Butkus Award watch list notice for the coming year.
Ellis had one of his best games as a Razorback in a 49-28 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock a year ago. He vexed the Red Raiders with eight tackles, a forced fumble and four pass breakups. For the season he was second on the squad in stops with 72, including 5.5 for loss and two interceptions.
With an exceptional offensive line and collection of running backs, Texas Tech will have a chance to do some damage on the ground against the Hogs in week three, but keeping Ellis in check will be key to Tech’s success in that regard.