Peeps, we've got another big one this week. The Razorbacks of Arkansas invade Davis Wade Stadium this Saturday night. It will be the first time in school history that MSU will take the home turf as the #1 team in the nation. Arkansas is and improved team and will surely "bring it." What do our Dawgs need to do in order to win? Here's what I think:
1. Run the "Darn" Football: State has gotten away from their strength the last couple of games, which is running the football with Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson. The Dawgs had a "meager" run/pass ratio of 60/40 against UK. I want to see that number back up around 65% or more this week. Arkansas is a physical football team that usually beats up their opponents. We've got to be even more physical this week. Be the bigger bully and run the "darn" football down the Pigs' throat.
2. Tackle: We have GOT to shore up our tackling this week. As we all know, UPig loves to run the football and is a power running team. Their OL is massive and does a tremendous job opening holes for their RBs, Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, getting them to the second level in one-on-one situations. It is absolutely imperative that we wrap up and get those guys on the ground this week. Not only are those two physical enough to truck you, they're fast enough to take it to the house if you don't wrap up and miss a tackle. They also excel at falling forward for 2-3 extra yards. Limiting their YAC by tackling properly is going to be crucial.
3. Limit Big Plays: While Arkansas features a run heavy, ground-and-pound offensive attack, they love to take deep shots off play action. After a shaky day last Saturday, the Dawgs need to return to form defensively and limit the number of big passing plays the Hogs hit. The good news is UPig's WRs probably aren't as good as UK's WRs.
4. Start Fast: The Dawgs' offense never really seemed to get rolling last Saturday, despite scoring 38 points. It would be huge to get up 14 or more early and force the Hogs to play catch up. Their offense is built for close games and games where they have a lead. Playing from behind forces them to throw, which they are reluctant to do. Coming out of the gate hot offensively could be a huge key.
5. Control the LOS: Maybe the most "Captain Obvious" item, but one I haven't heard much discussion of this week. With two teams who both want to be physical and run the ball, controlling the game up front will be vital. This is particularly true on defense. Our front 7 is going to have to play their best game of the year so far to control UPig's rushing attack. The good news is I think we've got the best front 7 in the nation. This is a strength versus strength game: Our front 7 against their OL & RBs. It's going to be nasty. Here's a sleeper to watch in the defensive trenches this week: Nick James. With the Hogs wanting to run so much, James ability to clog up the middle and tie up interior OL could be a big part of our game plan. Just kinda seems to me like his skill set is tailor-made for a game like this.
That's what I think needs to happen for the Dawgs to beat the Hogs. This game is going to be brutal, regardless of the score. These are two of the most physical teams in the SEC and they'll absolutely hammer each other on every play. This is one of those games where you've got to man up, bring your lunch pail, and go to work on every play, especially in the trenches. I'm actually really excited for this matchup. It's going to be old school in terms of physicality, and I love that type of game.
In Mullen We Trust,