It doesn’t seem like the Arkansas football team thinks it will have much trouble moving the ball against Kansas State’s defense in the Cotton Bowl.
When asked if it might be more difficult to throw against the Wildcats, a squad that sees high-powered passing attacks every week in the Big 12, than your typical SEC defense, which prepares for a smash-mouth style week in and week out, Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright decided to offer up some bulletin-board material.
“We just want to run our offense,” Wright said. “I don’t want to call the Big 12 an unphysical conference, but we are probably going to be a little more physical than they are used to.”
When asked a similar question, Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg had this to say: “We’re looking forward to the Razorback fans getting in here so we can put on a show for them.”
It’s not hard to see why Arkansas players are confident. They went to a BCS bowl last year, and won 10 games this season. And the one game it played against a Big 12 opponent (Texas A&M) it scored 42 points and threw the ball all over the field.
Kansas State, though good against the run and at creating turnovers, enters the Cotton Bowl allowing nearly 400 yards per game.
The Razorbacks are the best passing offense in the SEC. Quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 3,422 yards this season, and Wright notched 1,029 receiving yards.
Those numbers somewhat resemble Big 12 spread passing offenses. But the Razorbacks’ style does not.
“I would say we’re more pro-style because we go under center,” Gragg said. “We have a lot of checks and audibles that can happen. But we can spread it out and go five-wide and no-huddle. I think we’re pretty versatile.”
It’s true. Arkansas can run the ball. Dennis Johnson finished the year with 637 yards on the ground and Ronnie Wingo added 440 more.
Could those numbers increase against K-State? Two Arkansas players think so.
Another quote from Gragg on K-State’s defense: “They’re not as big as some of the SEC schools that we play, but they’re very disciplined and they make plays. They may not be as big or as fast, but they make a lot of plays.”
But when coach Bobby Petrino was asked if he “licks his chops” when he sees the way K-State has struggled against the pass, he quickly said no.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for them,” Petrino said. “They know how to win games. They know how to make plays when the game is on the line. They do a good job of coming up with pass rushes and certain blitzes in situations. They are a great situation football team.”
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 6, the Kansas State football team will face Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. With that in mind, I began counting down to the big game in Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 6 by attempting to write 31 blog posts in 31 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas at the moment. I’m confident that I can go 31 for 31, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.