By now, you all know the drill. I asked a series of questions to Eric Harris at Arkansas fight, and he answered them for us. If you want to see the other half of the series while I went on gumping about Alabama, here’s the link
1) After a disastrous three game stretch with a loss to Colorado State and blowouts to Auburn and... uh.. North Texas, most everyone had written the Razorbacks off as potentially the worst team in the SEC. Then last week, Arkansas played the highly regarded Texas A&M tightly and started showing a little life. From an Arkansas fan perspective, where do you think this season goes? Is your fan base bullish on the team making strides as the season progresses? Or are they more resigned to a bad year?
Honestly the Colorado State loss is looking much more disastrous with North Texas looking capable of winning their conference. Those two games sent a lot of people spiraling (for obvious reasons) but things have started to level out since then. I’m not sure if bullish is the right word but there is some cautious optimism. Fans are pretty resigned to this year being nothing but trying to figure out what works and building to 2019. Right now the defense has been progressing well but the offense and special teams have been an outright disaster and were the reasons for those losses.
2) Under Brett Beliema, we’d all become accustomed to viewing Arkansas as a smashmouth, throwback offense that was going to power run the ball right down your throat, whether or not it actually worked. Now, with coach Chad Morris on the job, what is this team’s offensive identity? Or has it even been found yet?
The current offensive identity currently involves a lot of prayer. Without a competent offensive line and struggling quarterbacks, it’s been kind of hard to see what the offense looks like or if Morris has even installed much of what he wants to. The North Texas game happened because of six interceptions, none of which were by current starter Ty Storey who didn’t play in that game. With him in the game the last two weeks we still haven’t been able to reliably move the ball at all, but at least turnovers have been cut down.
3) On defense, what is your best unit? What is the weakest?
Defense has actually been the one positive of the season. Scores have looked worse because of special teams being in a constant state of disaster and the offense giving opponents the ball in the redzone to start. Despite that the defense, especially the linebackers have held their own. Dre Greenlaw has been the MVP of the season by a mile so far this year. He missed the Colorado State and North Texas games due to injury and it’s no coincidence things have gotten better all around with his leadership. He picked off Kellen Mond twice last weekend and he and De’Jon Harris have been all over the field racking up tackles.
4) Who’s one Arkansas player to watch out for that likely no one outside of your fan base has heard of?
Armon Watts has surprised a lot of people on the defensive line this year. He leads the team with 4 sacks and is second with 4.5 TFLs. He’s also been a big part of making Arkansas’ run defense a lot more successful than years past. Offensively, he’s probably a lot more well known because of Last Chance U, but Rakeem Boyd is starting to find his place in the offense. He’s looked more comfortable each week and hopefully the play calling won’t abandon the run and reduce his touches this week.
5) Based on your knowledge of Alabama, what specific positional, coaching, scheme, or personnel match up do you think the Razorbacks have the best chance to exploit?
It’s pretty bleak when trying to find something. Arkansas probably needs to get something going with turnovers, but Tua has taken good care of the ball all year. They could try and take advantage of getting some big chunk plays, but the offensive line almost certainly won’t hold up long enough for a play like that to develop. If there’s anything it will have to be similar to what was successful against A&M. Get tight end Cheyenne O’Grady the ball quickly and hope he can find some space for some extra yards.
6) What’s your score prediction?
Since Bama has played right around the betting line all season I’ll stay with that. I’ll go 38-7 with most of the second half in cruise control.