This article originally appeared in the September 27, 2012 issue of The Arkansas Traveler.
1. Establish a Run Game
Arkansas has gotten nothing out of the run game so far this season. They are only averaging 97.8 yards per game on the ground. After missing the entire 2011 season because of injury, junior Knile Davis hasn’t shown the ability he did during the 2010 season. Texas A&M is only giving up 94 rushing yards per game, so Arkansas’ offensive line will have to step up against the Aggies’ stiff defense, and Davis, as well as the Hogs’ other running backs, will need to hit holes whenever they open up. This will force the Aggies not to completely focus on the pass.
2. Shut Down Johnny Manziel
Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has accounted for 65.1 percent of Texas A&M’s total offense. He is their leading passer (213.7 yards per game) and leading rusher (87.3 yards per game). Last time Arkansas played a dual-threat quarterback was in week two against ULM’s Kolton Browning. The Hogs allowed Browning to run around and make plays. If they let Manziel do the same, they will suffer a similar result (Arkansas lost to ULM 34-31).
3. Other Wide Receivers Need to Step Up
Last week, senior wide receiver Cobi Hamilton hauled in 10 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. His 303 receiving yards broke the UA and Southeastern Conference single-game records. Wilson expects Texas A&M to “pay a little more attention to him” because of this performance. Other wide receivers, such as junior Brandon Mitchell and freshman Mekale McKay, are going to need to step up and make plays if Arkansas is going win.
4. Protect Tyler Wilson
This seems to be a key every week, but it is especially important this Saturday. Texas A&M is tied for third in the country in sacks with 16. Junior defensive lineman Damontre Moore leads them with six sacks, which is tied for third in the country among individual players. While Arkansas has only given up seven sacks, they must bring their best performance to slow down Texas A&M’s ability to attack and protect senior quarterback Tyler Wilson.
5. Stay Focused
This is Arkansas’ first road game. For the first time this season, Arkansas will break out of their normal routine and play in a hostile environment. Texas A&M is famous for their student section, the “12th Man,” which never sits down during the game. They also play at Kyle Field, which was ranked as the 10th toughest place to play according to a Yahoo.com article at the beginning of the season. The young players and the rest of the team must remain focused the entire game in order to have a chance.