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Arkansas-Texas A&M position analysis

by Tom Murphy | September 25, 2021 at 3:09 a.m.



TEXAS A&M Zach Calzada, a 6-4, 200-pound sophomore, has been a mixed bag since taking the reins from Haynes King, who had a broken leg bone in Week 2. Calzada is 37 of 72 (51.4%) for 458 yards, with 4 TDs, 2 INTs and a 120.39 efficiency rating. Only Florida's Emory Jones and Vandy's Ken Seals have lower ratings among SEC qualifiers. Calzada hasn't been accurate when under pressure.

ARKANSAS Sophomore KJ Jefferson (39-63-2, 632 yards, 4 TDs) is sixth in the SEC with 270.7 total yards per game after his career-high 366 passing yards last week. Jefferson has 24 carries for 180 yards (7.5 ypc) and 2 TDs as a true dual threat. His 160.78 efficiency rating is seventh in the SEC. Malik Hornsby (6-50, 1, 8.5 ypc) flashed his speed last week but hasn't been needed to pass yet.


Running backs

TEXAS A&M The Aggies might have the best 1-2 punch at tailback in the SEC with 225-pound junior Isaiah Spiller (40-250, 1 TD) and 185-pound sophomore speedster Devon Achane (30-203, 2), who was a little dinged up last week. Spiller averages 6.2 ypc to Achane's 6.8. Amari Daniels (3-21), slotback Ainias Smith (4-19) and Earnest Crownover (5-17) have received light duty in the run game.

ARKANSAS The Razorbacks have gone deep at tailback behind ace junior Trelon Smith (42-216, 3, 5.1 ypc), who has scored a rushing TD in each game along with Dominique Johnson (15-132, 3, 8.8). Also getting solid reps are Raheim Sanders (25-137, 1, 5.5) and AJ Green (14-104, 1, 7.4), who is also emerging as a pass catcher. Josh Oglesby (4-19) and Javion Hunt (4-19) saw action last week against Georgia Southern.


Receivers/tight ends

TEXAS A&M TE Jalen Wydermyer (12-141, 11.8 ypc) lit the Hogs up last year for 2 TDs. Slot Ainias Smith (13-135, 2) is questionable and Caleb Chapman (5-98) is out. Chase Lane (9-104) could see more action, while 6-3 Demond Demas (2-100, 1 TD) adds to A&M's list of tall pass catchers. Moose Muhammad (3-24) contributes. The Aggies love to throw to their backs, who have combined for 14 catches, 149 yards, 2 TD.

ARKANSAS Treylon Burks (13-206, 1) broke out last week, his average soaring to 15.8 ypc with a 91-yard TD. Tyson Morris (6-148, 2, 24.7 ypc) has been a good deep threat. De'Vion Warren (6-89) had a solid week, and Warren Thompson (4-81, 1) his first TD. Blake Kern (4-43) leads the TEs, where Hudson Henry is coming off injury. Jaquayln Crawford (2-8) and Ketron Jackson Jr. (1-16), a physical blocker, are also top contributors.



TEXAS A&M The Aggies brought back only one starter in junior RT Kenyon Green (6-4, 325). C Luke Matthews continues the long Matthews tradition with the Aggies. RG Layden Robinson (6-4, 320) returns from injury. On the left side, grad transfer LT Jahmir Johnson and RS freshman LG Aki Ogunbiyi are the starters. The Aggies average a massive 6-4, 316 across their starters.

ARKANSAS The Razorbacks underwent a substantial shuffle after RT Dalton Wagner and C Ricky Stromberg came out in the 1st and 3rd quarters, respectively. Both are questionable this week. LT Myron Cunningham and RG Beaux Limmer look solid. Ty Clary took over at his old center spot, LG Brady Latham kicked over to RT and Luke Jones came in at LG. The Hogs depth could get further tested today.




TEXAS A&M DT DeMarvin Leal (13 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 PBU) gleaned pre-season All-America publicity. He and Jayden Peevy (11, 3, INT, 3 PBU), a 6-6, 310-pound senior, are returning starters on the inside. Senior Tyree Johnson (7, 1 sack, 2 hurries) is back as a starting end along with grad transfer Michael Clemons (8, 1.5 TFL, 5 hurries). Adarious Jones (6) and Fadil Diggs (4, 1 sack) are top reserves.

ARKANSAS The Razorbacks have done well at rotating on the front, where Tre Williams (11, 1.5 sacks, 1 hurry) has emerged as a penalty prone pass-rush threat. NT John Ridgeway (10, 1 sack), DT Isaiah Nichols (5, 1 sack, 1 FF) and DE Markell Utsey (4, 0.5 sacks, 2 hurries) started last week. Taurean Carter (11, 1 PBU), Zach Williams (9, 0.5 sacks, 1 FF), Eric Gregory (6, 1 hurry) and Mataio Soli (2, 0.5 sacks) contribute.



TEXAS A&M The Aggies' top WLB is grad transfer Aaron Hansford (15, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU), a 240-pound thumper. Junior Andre White (8, 1, 1, 1 hurry) starts at MLB. True freshman Edgerrin Cooper (9, 1 1 INT, 1 hurry) is listed as the top backup at both LB spots. Chris Russell Jr. (3 1 TFL) and Tarian Lee Jr. (4) have also seen action in the Aggies' base 4-2-5, where LBs have had space thanks to the tremendous D-line.

ARKANSAS The trio of Bumper Pool (30, 2 TFL), who is eager to return for a game in his home state, Hayden Henry (24, 1 TFL, 1 hurry) and Grant Morgan (20, 1 PBU) logged their highest total of combined snaps last week, and that came with little PT in the 4th quarter. Andrew Parker (4, 2 hurries), Jackson Woodard (2) and Deon Edwards (1) are next up in the rotation with Chris Paul waiting in the wings.



TEXAS A&M The Aggies have a quality, veteran unit, with both safeties -- senior Leon O'Neal Jr. (10, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 2 PBU) and junior Demani Richardson (12, 1 PBU) -- and both corners -- grad transfer Myles Jones (2) and Jaylen Jones (2, 1 TFL, 2 PBU) -- returning starters. Nickel Antonio Johnson (18, 1 TFL, 2 PBU) is the top tackler. Brian George (8) and Tyreek Chappell (5) are top reserves. CB Keldick Carper is questionable.

ARKANSAS The Razorbacks have played well here, but has two games without an INT since the 3-pick opener. Safety Jalen Catalon (28, 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 3 PBU) leads the unit with safeties Joe Foucha (18, 1 PBU), Simeon Blair (4, 2 PBU) and Jayden Johnson (3, 1 TFL), NB Greg Brooks Jr. (11, 1.5 TFL, 1 hurry) and CBs Montaric Brown (9, 1 INT), LaDarrius Bishop (3, 1 PBU) and Hudson Clark (1) and Devin Bush (1).


Special teams

TEXAS A&M Punter Nik Constantinou, the reigning SEC special teams player of the week, is 13th nationally with 47.8-yard average. The Aggies are 16th in net punting (44.25). Seth Small is 10 of 10 on PATs, 5 of 6 on FGAs, plus one bad snap. Devon Achane (29.5) is a dangerous KOR man. Ainais Smith is a weapon with 9.9 yards per punt return. Caden Davis and Randy Bond have combined for 12 of 18 touchbacks.

ARKANSAS The Razorbacks' kicking game has been sharp. Cam Little is 6 of 6 FGs, 15 of 15 PATs. Vito Calvaruso is 20 of 24 (83.3%) on touchbacks. P Reid Bauer (40.58) is 74th in the FBS and the Razorbacks are 127th of 130 in net punting (31.8), hampered by a block. Opponents average 18 yards per KOR, and have 19 punt return yards. LaDarrius Bishop averages 28.8 yards on kickoff returns; Nathan Parodi 6.7 yards on punt returns.



TEXAS A&M The Aggies can create a path to the College Football Playoff that just eluded the program in Year 3 under Jimbo Fisher last year, so that's major motivation. Fisher was not pleased with the overall execution and physicality last week, which he knows has to be better to defeat resurgent Arkansas. Aggies fans might be overconfident with their lengthy win streak in the series; it'll be costly if the players think the same.

ARKANSAS The desire to snap a nine-game losing streak is a huge motivating factor for Arkansas, but the Razorbacks have to direct that desire in the right ways, like execution and focus. It appeared the Hogs had lulls, a big one in the first half vs. Rice, a smaller one in the first half vs. Georgia Southern, on both sides of the dominating Texas game. Can the players apply that mentality vs. the Longhorns to today's game?


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