By Tim Chapman Writer/Analyst


Texas Pass vs. Arkansas Pass Defense
Edge: Texas

When you think of Texas' offense, the name that immediately comes to mind is Roy Williams. He's big and strong, an all-around athletic marvel. But he, along with his fellow receivers, compliment each other well enough to give Texas a better overall corps than most any other team. The Horns boast, perhaps, the most dynamic receiving corps in the south. Last week they were non-existent, but playing this relatively undersized defense could result in big things Saturday.

Mack Brown acknowledged that the two best players on the Arkansas defense are their cornerbacks (Richardson and Carroll). The tape measurer will tell you that Texas has a distinct height advantage over this Hog pass defense - none of the Arkansas starters stands taller than 5'11", and none of the Texan pass-catchers are less than 6'1". You do the math.

I think Texas will reaffirm their capabilities throwing the ball. Chance Mock (and when he gets his turn, Vince Young) will exploit this secondary, utilizing his lofty receivers to garner big gains and rack up multiple scores via the air mode. UT only threw the ball 16 times (completing 8) against NMSU, but found the endzone once every four throws. That shows you they can easily put it in the endzone via the pass when necessary. Arkansas may be quick on defense, but as long as UT's offensive line gives Mock ample time, it will be a long afternoon for the Hogs. Arkansas can only hope to blitz/rush Mock and force him into making throws he shouldn't, which I don't see happening. Even when flustered, Mock does a great job of taking care of the pigskin.


Arkansas Pass vs. Texas Pass Defense
Edge: Texas

The Razorbacks were efficient throwing the football a week ago- but come on, the opponent was Tulsa! Both Matt Jones and Ryan Sorahan were on, going 11 for 19 for 188 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs. Neither really made any mistakes, and both showed a lot of good tools - but still, against Tulsa. The Hogs do have the luxury of a solid offensive line (as well as a mobile QB in Jones) to protect against the fierce Texas pass rush. But will that even matter?

Texas' pass defense is absolutely stifling. They limited New Mexico State to just 75 yards through the air and picked off three passes, returning two for scores. It all starts with the play of their linebackers - they are tough, quick, and very football-intuitive. They make the play before others have a chance to see it. The secondary is suffocating on the outside and dangerously destructive over the middle. Heightening the strengths of these two units is the strenuous pass rush created by the stags up front.

Arkansas is not a predominant passing team. They will try the occasional deep sideline throw to stretch this secondary and keep the safeties at a secure distance, which should open up the intermediate pass routes. Texas, though, won't be fooled, and I expect the 'Horns to rake in a few errant throws, giving their offense solid field position. If you're Arkansas, you better focus hard on running.


Texas Run vs. Arkansas Run Defense
Edge: Texas

Texas did not do a good job of running the football in their first game. Cedric Benson finished with just 40 yards on 12 carries and was slow to hit what few holes opened up for him. The offensive big men must do a better job of pushing the line forward and maintaining their blocks. They allowed defenders to cross them up way too easily in week one and will be in for a load of problems if it happens against Arkansas. Look for Greg Davis to give the ball to Benson at least 20 times to see what he can do against a bigger, quicker, opposing defense.

Arkansas, as good as they are tagged to be defensively, did not do a good job of stopping the run last week. Tulsa averaged 5.5 yards per carry and that was with an inferior offensive front and average running backs. They face two backs in burnt orange that can punish a defense both statistically and physically.

This is the game we see Cedric Benson get back to where he started. Texas's passing game will produce the success needed to open up that defense and lead the way for the running game. The O-line, as well as Benson, has been challenged both internally and externally all week to rise to the occasion. I bet we're gonna see a fiery Cedric Benson come out and rush for 120+ yards complimented by a couple scores. We can also expect a reverse or two to capitalize on the speed and aggression of this defense and eventual over pursuit. This game will put the UT running attack right where they belong.


Arkansas Run vs. Texas Run Defense
Edge: Texas

Mack Brown seems a bit worried about this area of the game, and with good reason. Arkansas ran roughshod over the Tulsa defense, tallying over eight yards per carry. An amazing stat when you consider the Hogs carried the ball 37 times and do not have a threatening pass game. They have a couple of backs (Cobbs and Howard) who are quick to the line of scrimmage and run behind one of the best O-line units in the SEC. They also like to mix in the option to keep defenses honest, and have proven to be quite successful in doing so.

Practices at UT have focused primarily on stopping this facet of the offense. UT's run defenders were broken down at times by NMSU's mobile QBs and their quick backs that run north-south. The Horns will be facing a lot of meat and strength along the front line and will need to be sturdy in the trenches.

What we'll see is the UT defense applying pressure in run-blitzes and shooting the gaps to try and beat the UA backs to the spot. They have the athletes to do so, but tackling and breaking down the point of attack will be vital. Arkansas' run game is good, but Texas has had two weeks to prepare for this one, so they should be ready for whatever the Hogs throw at them. Cobbs and company will find it rough getting anything going on the ground, putting the offense in the dangerous position of having to throw.


Special Teams
Edge: Texas

Texas had as good a game on special teams as any. They were perfect on field goals/PATs, punted the ball respectably, blocked a field goal, and returned two kicks for touchdowns. You can bet Houston Nutt will be kicking the ball away from Selvin Young this week, but in doing so, he may just uncover yet another special teams gem wearing the 'Horns logo on his lid. Arkansas' special teams units were pretty shaky and have been worked on a lot this week. The good news is that they should get their regular placekicker, David Carlton, back from injury.


Final Thoughts

It's good to see this rivalry renewed - at least for the next two years, anyway. These former SWC powers carry a lot of pride and tradition into their respective programs and share mutual respect for what the other has done for football in their region. But that respect will be put on hold for 60 minutes come Saturday morning. That's right, I said morning. The game will start at noon EST (morning for the other time zones), to accommodate a (split) national television audience. This could pose a bit of a problem for the visiting Razorbacks. Playing early occasionally begins the tale of a blowout, and that's what I see happening at Darrel Royal Memorial Stadium.

Simply said, Texas has far too many weapons. They throw the ball as they run, well. But more importantly, they prevent others from doing so. I think Texas' run-defense will step up early and shut down that Arkansas ground strike. They have the speed and tackling ability to move eight in the box and bring a safety or even a corner to seal the edge, allowing the 'backers and ends to focus on the middle of the field. This makes it hard for an offensive line to open inside holes wide enough for a back to accelerate through at full speed and get upfield. Throwing the ball will not be an option either. This defense is far too good to allow Arkansas to pose any threat through the air.

Offensively, I like Mock to throw for 200+ yards and a few scores to Williams and TEs Scaife and David Thomas. This will maintain safe running lanes for Benson and Young, kindled by a more headstrong offensive line. I think this offense will run up over 400+ yards in total offense and, again, put a lot of points on the board. Mack Brown has made his crew very weary of the talent on this Razorbacks team. Brown will have his troops ready for battle. The 'Horns win big and plant themselves in the company of serious title contenders.


Chappy's Prediction: Texas 52, Arkansas 14