With only thirteen days until the Hogs take on Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the excitement is building throughout the state. Many questions have surfaced concerning how the Hogs will matchup against the Buckeyes. I’ve discussed the possiblities with both, Arkansas fans as well as Ohio State fans, the concern seems mutual to say the least.
On the Arkansas side, the concern seems to stem from stopping Terrell Pryor. With a defense that has surpassed pre-season expectations, the Hogs defensive line has been quite impressive in getting to the quarterback. Some comparisons between Terrell Pryor and Cam Newton have been made, however this isn’t exactly spot on. But seeing as how Newton is the closest thing the Hogs have seen, it’s an easy comparison to make. While both are similar in height and running ability, Newton has superior passing ability and seems to possess a more fluid motion when running the ball. Not to take away from Pryor’s talents mind you. While Pryor has big play ability in his legs, he lacks the bulldozing power. He seems to prefer the finesse running style, straying away from contact.
Terrell Pryor has shown flashes of talent in the passing game, but seems to inconsistent to beat you with his arm alone. One issue that I believe will come into play will be Arkansas’ team speed on defense. One of the many improvements I have noticed in the defense this year has been that whether it’s the defensive line, linebackers or the secondary, they are flying to the ball.
Although Pryor and Mallett have extreme opposite styles, their numbers aren’t that much different.
Ryan Mallett Terrell Pryor
Attempts: 364 298
Completions: 242 196
Passing yards: 3,592 2,551
Touchdowns: 30 25
Completion Percentage: 66.5 65.8
Interceptions: 11 11
QB Rating: 170.5 158.0
The numbers are pretty close, but the level of competition to reach those numbers were not however. Aside from Auburn, Arkansas played more top 25 teams than the top 5 did…combined. For Arkansas to play that level of competition and still come out at 10-2 tells me that the Hogs are a little bit better than the nation thinks. When it comes down to running backs, overall I feel that Arkansas has the edge, due to the big play abilities of Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo Jr., and Broderick Green. Dan Herron of Ohio State is a speedy back that can make people miss in the open field, but lacks the size that the Hogs defense is accustomed to seeing.
Knile Davis Dan Herron
Carries: 178 192
Yards: 1,183 1,068
Touchdowns: 13 15
YPC: 6.6 5.6
Longest: 71 89
You would think that with Knile Davis being in a pass happy offense, that he wouldn’t break 1,000 yards (which I predicted he would) but with the surge in his performance over the second half of the season, Davis has separated himself from the rest of the depth chart. Davis has demonstrated an explosiveness in long runs, power between the tackles and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays down field. Speaking of making catches, I’ve heard way too many times in the past two weeks, that “Arkansas has a potent passing attack, but they will be without Greg Childs…”, this is true, but the Hogs have been without Greg Childs for a while. Not to say that the Hogs wouldn’t want Childs to suit up, but with the line of talent at wide reciever, they need not worry about Greg Childs absence.
For Ohio State, the leading reciever, Dane Sanzenbacher (5’11″, 180lbs) is yet another example of what the Hog defense is not used to seeing. Throughout the SEC, teams load up with big, physical wide outs that refuse to be jammed at the line, that can block down field like a tight end. Don’t be mislead by the smaller recievers. Anyone who watches the NFL can tell you how the Indianapolis Colts can nickel and dime you all the way to the end zone. But the Ohio State Buckeyes seem to prefer the run game moreso than the pass.
Jarius Wright Dane Sanzenbacher
Receptions: 38 52
Yards: 718 889
Touchdowns: 4 10
YPC: 18.9 17.1
Longest: 89 65
And what appears to be a concern for Ohio State, is Mackey Award winner D.J. Williams. He has been phenomenal throughout his career at Arkansas and something tells me he will do all he can to lead the Hogs to a win come January 4th.
D.J. Williams Jake Stoneburner
Receptions: 49 18
Yards: 589 183
Touchdowns: 4 2
YPC: 12.0 10.2
Longest: 46 21
But the most important area of this game, that can not be tracked by stats, is the offensive lines. Arkansas’ offensive line has stepped up this season, creating holes for Knile to run through, giving Mallett time to disect defenses, they are the reason that the Arkansas Razorbacks are headed to New Orleans.
Leading up to this game, experts say it will be offense vs defense. Well if the LSU game was any indication, I believe Hog fans will be living it up on Bourbon Street after the Sugar Bowl. LSU was supposed to have the vaunted defense that subdue most offensive firepower. The problem with a strong defense facing Arkansas is that, Arkansas is no longer one dimensional. To beat Arkansas you have to stop the running game AND the passing attack. and not one time this season has Arkansas been shut down. The Hogs will score points, no doubt about it. Ohio State will just have to try and follow Auburn’s approach.
If you want to beat the Hogs, you have to outscore them. Sounds simple, right ?
Follow James Moseley on Twitter: @james_moseley