December 3, 2010

Tale of the Tape: Arkansas

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We won't know the bowl match-ups until Sunday evening but short of a Bowl Amrmageddon the Buckeyes will be spending the New Year in the Big Easy in the Sugar Bowl and the most likely opponent will be the Arkansas Razorbacks. Of course Auburn has to take care of its business in the SEC Championship game but most people feel that the Tigers are BCS Championship bound and that would send the Hawgs to New Orleans (La.).

Most people outside of SEC country don't know a whole lot about Arkansas. Peopple in the Big Ten footprint have heard plenty about Auburn, Alabama and have had history with Florida and LSU. So as we wait for the announcement to come out it is a perfect time to start to learn more about Bobby Petrino's team.

We will look at some of the numbers that surround both teams but numbers don't tell the whole story. For the purpose of looking at Arkansas we will be breaking a lot of the numbers of opponents down by top-40 nationally and bottom 80-nationally. But there is a big difference between the 49th ranked scoring defense of UGA and the 107th ranked scoring defense of Ole Miss. Just like there is a big difference in matching up numbers against Eastern Michigan and Illinois from an Ohio State perspective.

Of course this whole story could end up being a moot point if things don't fall as expected. Ohio State could even backdoor into the Rose Bowl if somehow the dominoes fall just right and Wisconsin finds its way to the BCS Championship game and the Rose takes Ohio State. But that is a very unlikely scenario so we will just go under the assumption that it will be the Bucks and Hawgs at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4th, 2011.

We started off with the Ohio State offense against the Arkansas defense on Thursday (you can review part one here). Today we look at Arkansas' offense against the Ohio State defense. We also throw in special teams as well.

Head Coach:

Bobby Petrino

Affiliation:SEC - West


Fayetteville (Ark.)

Kickoff: 8:30 pm EST Television: ESPN Location: Louisiana Superdome (72,968)

When Arkansas has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 150.8 Ypg. (62nd)

  • Passing Offense: 338.4 Ypg. (3rd)

  • Scoring Offense: 37.3 Ppg. (17th)

  • Total Offense: 489.3 Ppg. (9th)

  • Sacks Allowed: 2.0 avg. (68th)

  • Pass Efficiency: 168.05 (4th)

  • Rushing Defense: 94.3 Ypg. (6th)

  • Passing Defense: 156.3 Ypg. (4th)

  • Scoring Defense: 13.3 Ppg. (3rd)

  • Total Defense: 250.6 Ypg. (2nd)

  • Sacks: 19 (87th)

  • Turnover Margin: + 14 (T-2nd)

  • Arkansas Pass Offense

    Ohio State Pass Defense
    This is what Arkansas is all about right? Ryan Mallett is one of the nation's top passers and Ohio State fans are glad that they only have to see him potentially one time rather than several times at Michigan. A funny thing happens when you break down the stats for the Hawg passing game, Arkansas passes better against the good defenses then the bottom 80. Granted that likely is because the better defenses are on better teams and Arkansas has to go to its bread and butter. The Hawgs pass for 352 yards and 2.33 touchdowns versus the top 40 and a respectable 338.8 yards and three scores against the bottom 80. Arkansas has five receivers who have more than 500 yards receiving and six that have more than 25 receptions. Player to watch: Ryan Mallett The pass defense is the place where the Buckeyes can be had and ultimately that is because the unit has been plagued by injuries all season long. It is probably that Christian Bryant will return for the Buckeyes and play the Star position. Now people are going to look at Ohio State's defensive numbers and question why the No. 4 pass defense in the country could be in trouble. You can thank the Big Ten for that one because there are no 'great passers' in the league. Some quarterbacks may be efficient but there is not a QB in the league that can go for 300 yards week-in and week-out. Ohio State's defense is good at turning teams over with 18 interceptions and Mallett has thrown 11 picks on the year, including three against Alabama. Because of Ohio State's run defense it will have Arkansas looking to go to the air, over and over again. Player to watch: Chimdi Chekwa

    Arkansas Run Offense

    Ohio State Run Defense
    For all the talk about Arkansas' passing game there is a very good running game in there as well. Knile Davis has run for 1183 yards and has five games where he has eclipsed the 100 yard mark. Arkansas has faced six of the top 40 run defenses including three in the top 15. As a unit the Hawgs are running for 168 yards and 2.17 TDs against the bottom 80 and for 133.5 yards and 1.5 TDs against the top 40. After Davis the next ball carrier is Broderick Green who has 389 yards on the season but has only had one game where he had more than ten carries in the last seven games. Mallett is no threat to run the ball so the Buckeyes will be able to focus mainly on Davis with Green and Ronnie Wingo Jr. as the change of pace. Player to watch: Knile Davis Ohio State's pass defense numbers may be inflated because of a weak passing Big Ten but the rush defense numbers are earned because of a strong Big Ten. John Clay is the only back to go for more than 100 yards against the Ohio State defense this year (Michigan's Denard Robinson had 105 from his QB spot) and in the last five games of the season it has been close to impossible to get yards against the Ohio State run D and the unit has give up four TDs on the ground in the same time period. Ohio State's front seven may not be the most prolific group in the country but as a whole this may be one of the best run defenses in Columbus in the last decade. Linebacker Brian Rolle has stepped up and made his last couple of collegiate games his best while Ross Homan should be as healthy as he has been all season with the bowl layoff. Andrew Sweat has been overlooked but he is the best kept secret on this team. Player to watch: Brian Rolle

    Arkansas Offensive Line Play

    Ohio State Defensive Line Play
    Arkansas obviously has a solid offensive line with the numbers that it has been putting up. Teams have been able to get to the stationary Mallett but a quarterback is not going to put up the numbers that he does without having ample time, most of the time. The entire line checks in at 300-plus pounds and have good quickness for such big players. Two of the linemen are redshirt freshmen to go along with three seniors who all have three letters going into this season for the Hawgs. If for any reason the Hawgs have to get into the second team however there is a great deal of youth but that can be said about most teams in the nation. With the SEC having some of the best linemen in the nation and the Hawgs having to face them during the league slate you have to give the edge to Arkansas in this one. Player to watch: Ray Dominguez Ohio State's defensive line has been playing much better during the month of November and while the production has not been there most of the way the unit is still playing well and doing its job. Cameron Heyward is talked about every week in this feature and he is usually a victim of a double team and getting chipped. John Simon is a future superstar for this team and Johnathan Hankins is seeing more and more playing time despite being the heaviest of heavyweights at 335 pounds. It is hard to have a top-5 overall defense without great play by the defensive line and people will often discount that when it comes to the Buckeyes. Wisconsin did exploit some deficiencies with the Ohio State offensive line but truth be told, the whole team played pretty poorly and suffered a punch in the mouth with the kickoff return for a touchdown. Player to watch: Cameron Heyward

    Arkansas Offensive Strategy

    Ohio State Defensive Strategy
    There is a misconception about Arkansas' offense being completely unbalanced when it comes to passing versus rushing but that isn't the case. Bobby Petrino and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee called passes 52-percent of the time. If McGee's name sounds familiar it is because he was at Northwestern for several seasons. In the last game against LSU the Hawgs actually ran the ball 2:1 over passing it. That was a game Arkansas only led by a point going into the 4th quarter. When Arkansas does pass however it is for a robust 9.7 yards per attempt. The Hawgs get the nod here just based on the threat of one of the nation's top passing game, otherwise it would be hard to pass on the Bucks. The Buckeyes rank in the top-6 of every major statistical category in the country and is not getting the arrows? That is no fault of the Buckeyes who have done everything that has been asked of them. One bad night against Wisconsin is keeping the Buckeyes out of the desert playing for it all but it is not often that teams get theirs against Ohio State. Add to the mix the way that Ohio State turns teams over and the numbers are all the more impressive. Ohio State very well could have a lot of success against Arkansas if they are able to negate the run of the Hawgs and pressure Mallett enough to not let him get through his progressions, but that is asking a lot. Alabama took away the run from Arkansas in its win and Auburn was just able to outscore them (by a wide margin).

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 36.64 Avg. (55th)

  • Punt Returns: 17.24 Yds/Ret (4th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 19.60 Avg. (102th)

  • Time of Possession: 30:14

  • Penalties: 97/783 yards (114th)

  • Field Goals: 81% 13-16
  • Net Punting: 35.10 Avg. (82nd)

  • Punt Returns: 10.14 Yds/Ret (34th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 26.91 Avg. (3rd)

  • Time of Possession: 32:45

  • Penalties: 60/565 yards (17th)

  • Field Goals: 79% 19-24

  • Arkansas Kicking/Punting

    Ohio State Kicking/Punting
    Arkansas hasn't had a lot of need to kick field goals with the amount of touchdowns that were scored. In addition there hasn't been a huge need to punt the ball repeatedly with a solid efficiency by the Hawgs. Place kicker Zach Hocker has a perfect 55-55 on his PATs and 13-16 on his field goals. Hocker's long was from 51 yards but he has been pretty accurate from deep going 5-7 from outside of 40 yards. Punter Dylan Breeding is averaging 42.4 on his punts and has put 14 inside the 20 and has boomed eight punts more than 50 yards. Ben Buchanan has come on as of late with his punting and has given Ohio State a weapon late in the season that was not there early. Buchanan still doesn't have the longest of legs and has only uncorked five punts of 50 or longer and has had one blocked this year. Devin Barclay has been the full time kicker after Drew Basil had his only two field goal attempts blocked, but granted both were monster kicks from outside of 50 yards. Barclay is also perfect on his PAT attempts and Tressel ball needs all facets of special teams performing at a high level.

    Arkansas Return Game

    Ohio State Return Game
    Teams have done much better returning kicks against Arkansas than the Hawgs have been able to do against them allowing 1681 return yards on 65 kickoffs. On the flipside the punt coverage team has been great with only 87 return yards coming against them based on great punting. Joe Adams is the guy on the punt returns with a 97 yard return under his belt and an average of 17.9 yards per return. Lance Ray handles most of the kickoff returns and has a 66 yard return of his own but there have been ten players who have kick returns of their own but some have come by way of short kickoffs to keep it out of Ray and Cobi Hamilton's hands. The Buckeyes finally broke through on the return game against Michigan with Jordan Hall taking a short Wolverines kickoff to the house. Both he and Jaamal Berry have come close on several attempts and it always seems as if they are one decision away from breaking it. As for the coverage teams the Buckeyes are getting better but there are still some tense moments after such a bad start to the season. The return of Dorian Bell has helped solidify the coverage units while Jonathan Newsome has played very well and Jamie Wood has made some key tackles of his own.


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