1. Johnny Sideline
There’s one place Johnny Manziel can’t hurt a defense: On the sideline. So Arkansas’ run-oriented offense can be the defense’s best friend tonight. The Hogs need long, successful drives to limit Manziel and a dynamic offense’s opportunities.
2. Passing Game Success
No one expects Arkansas to throw for 300 yards without Brandon Allen. But the Razorbacks must be effective through the air to beat Texas A&M. The good news: QB AJ Derby should have every weapon available with the receiving corps healthy.
3. Win Up Front
Arkansas’ offensive front must do a better job after struggling at Rutgers. The defensive line must continue its strong start as it faces a big test with Manziel’s scrambling abilities. The Razorbacks have to control the line of scrimmage to win.
4. No Careless Penalties
Penalties were a problem for Arkansas’ defense, which gave away yards with careless mistakes and personal fouls. Texas A&M is capable of moving the ball on its own (602.2 yards a game). The last thing Arkansas needs is to help with penalties.
5. Don’t Dig A Hole
The Hogs haven’t shown much quick-strike potential with AJ Derby under center. Texas A&M has, scoring first in 16 of 17 games under coach Kevin Sumlin. Falling behind by a TD may not be a killer, but a double-digit deficit could cripple Arkansas.
TODAY’S KEY MATCHUP
Arkansas S Eric Bennett (6-0, 200, Sr.)
Key Statistics: 24 tackles, 3 pass break ups in 4 games
Bennett, who is ranked second on the team in tackles, is Arkansas’ most experienced and valuable player in the back seven. There’s no doubt the safety and the rest of the Arkansas defense faces their toughest challenge tonight. Bennett will be key in run support as the Razorbacks try to keep Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel from hurting them with his scrambling skills. But Bennett also must be sharp in pass coverage because of Manziel’s ability to carve up a secondary with his arm.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (6-1, 200, So.)
Key Statistics: 1,226 passing yards, 12 TDs, 4 INTs in 4 games
Manziel has been controversial off the field, but remains a magician on Saturdays. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner takes aim at Arkansas and plans to lead the Aggies to a road win. College football’s most dangerous dual threat (307 passing and 63.8 rushing yards a game) stung Arkansas in 2012 by setting an SEC record for total offense (557 yards) during a 58-10 rout. He has eclipsed that mark two more times since (576 vs. Louisiana Tech in 2012, 562 vs. Alabama two weeks ago).
EDGE: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel