FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For a third consecutive week Arkansas is preparing to face an up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
This time, the opponent will be Texas State, which the Hogs host at 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday, and the film suggests the Bobcats have the fastest offense Arkansas has faced in 2016. Several Razorbacks have referred to Texas State as “the second-fastest” offense in the nation.
“This team operates in about 16 seconds of play,” said defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads. “Leaving about 24 seconds on the play clock every time they snap the ball. That’s fast.”
The good news is Arkansas can rely on its preparation from the previous two weeks, which resulted in narrow wins over Louisiana Tech and TCU.
“It’ll be a lot of the same stuff, so we’ve just got to be ready for it,” said senior linebacker Brooks Ellis. “A lot of the same stuff we practiced for last week. Maybe even a little bit more up-tempo. So, we’re getting after it this week.”
The bad news is another fast offense could wear down the defense if Arkansas fails to make quick work of Texas State and finds itself in another close game for four quarters. The Hogs’ defense already appeared to be a little worn down with cramps and fatigue becoming an issue late in the win over TCU. Injuries in the secondary and a thin linebacker corps mean the starters could use a breather before SEC play begins next week.
“I don’t want to say we were tired; I just think when you play a team like TCU that runs a lot of plays like that, sometimes you forget the calls and stuff like that,” said sophomore defensive end Randy Ramsey. “I think that was the main thing, that they run a lot of plays.”
Well, get ready for another dose of that. Texas State ran 85 plays in regulation during its 56-54 triple-overtime win over Ohio two weeks ago.
The Bobcats, coming off a bye week, also have an experienced quarterback with senior Tyler Jones in his fourth season as the starter. Jones is a capable runner and has a completion percentage just over 60 in his career.
“My biggest thing about him is he’s a senior,” said linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves. “He’s been in the fire. He’s not going to be scared of us. Even though it’s Arkansas, or whatever, he’s not going to be scared of us. He’s going to come in with the idea that he’s been doing this for a long time, he’s been playing a lot of football. For him, I’m willing to bet it’s another football game and he’s going to come in and be ready to impress.”
Even with the high-speed offense and an experienced quarterback, Texas State still is a Sun Belt team in rebuilding mode under first-year coach Everett Withers. The Bobcats played 10 freshmen and a total of 23 players against Ohio who had previously never played in a FBS game. So, if the Hogs can tame another up-tempo offense and a senior quarterback, a much-needed blowout win is there for the taking Saturday.