After each kicked their 2021 campaign’s off with wins, the No. 15 Texas Longhorns and Arkansas Razorbacks are set to renew their old SWC and future SEC rivalry on Saturday evening in front of a sold out crowd in Fayetteville.
The BON staff got together to discuss what we saw last week, what we’ll see in Arkansas, and what’s key for Texas to come out on top.
Now that we’ve gotten our first glimpse of the 2021 Longhorns, what player or unit are you more confident in than you were last week, and what has you more concerned?
Cody — I wasn’t sure what to expect with Hudson Card coming into his first real experience playing QB at Texas, but I was more than impressed with how poised and efficient he was, plus his arm talent is apparent, so I’m fairly confident in him going forward. The OL performance was concerning with how few running lanes the running backs had beyond the outside zones, so Kyle Flood has his hands full for the immediate future.
Curry — Hard to say I’m overly concerned about any position group. I was surprised that the defensive line didn’t make as much of an impact as I anticipated, but understanding it was a strategic approach to keep a mobile QB in the pocket, I’m going to assume it was due to scheme. Think we will learn more about the Texas DL this week, but KJ Jefferson is a mobile quarterback so it might be a similar week for this group.
I think it’s easiest to be excited about the running backs. Obviously Bijan Robinson is a force, but Keilan Robinson and Roschon Johnson combined for 70 yards on 16 carries. Excited to see more of those guys against Arkansas, especially Keilan’s playmaking ability as a receiving target.
Gerald — It’s not that I wasn’t confident in the linebackers heading into the game, but the way Luke Brockermeyer and DeMarvion Overshown seemed to take to this defensive system like fishes to water was a big boost to my confidence. The offensive line gives me pause. I honestly had questions ahead of the season, but I think I am more concerned now. The issues are correctable, but how quickly can Kyle Flood solve those problems?
Cameron — Hudson Card. I came close to picking Louisiana last week because I didn’t know what to expect out of the true freshman. But man did he deliver. Incredibly poised in the pocket and could watch him throw a football all day. I look forward to watching him develop under Sark. Like everyone else, I’m a little concerned with the OL. There were some good moments and some bad, but it was Week 1. Interested to see how they handle the Hogs defensive line.
The Razorbacks didn’t execute very well against Rice, but they have their fair share of talent. Who are the few players who could cause Texas the most trouble on Saturday?
Cody — S Jalen Catalon is a name most Texas fans should know, as he was once he key target for the Horns, and now he’s a budding star for the Razorbacks. WR Treylon Burks should give the Texas DBs their first true test of the season, and I think QB KJ Jefferson and RB Treylon Smith could cause some problems if Texas doesn’t contain well.
Curry — I think the obvious answers are Arkansas WR Treylon Burks and S Jalen Catalon. But obviously I’m worried about KJ Jefferson. He reminds me of Tyrone Swoopes. Against Rice he ran the ball nine times for 90 yards, but I think we will see more of him this week. His arm isn’t a concern, but Texas needs to make sure it keeps Jefferson contained and not Taysom Hill-ing Texas at will.
Gerald — In recent years, Texas has struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks, so KJ Jefferson scares me — especially with what his legs open up downfield for the other guy that truly scares me, like wide receiver Treylon Burks. I’d also be lying if I didn't say I was happy Bumper Pool will only play the second half.
Cameron — Jalen Catalon has the ability to affect the outcome of the game with his ball-hawking safety skills and athleticism that has him racing all over the field. The dude finds ways to make plays. But he can’t do it all. Treylon Burks presents mismatch concerns with any D1 defense, but the question is can K.J. Jefferson get him the ball?
Arkansas’ special teams didn’t exactly look good to begin the season, and that’s a unit that should be a strength for the Horns this year. How much of an impact do you think that dimension of the game will have on the outcome?
Cody — I’d say the impact will make a difference in the game. I’m not sure Jamison and/or Worthy take any returns to the house, but I think we’ll see a few returns that give Texas some ideal field position, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Arkansas punt or field goal blocked after Rice got to one last week.
Curry — Rice blocked a punt against Arkansas, which isn’t a good look for Arkansas special teams. I imagine they will have it more cleaned up this week. I’m hopeful that Texas is in enough control on offense and defense that special teams won’t be critical, but the Longhorns have an advantage with an experienced Cameron Dicker. It won’t affect the outcome and if it does, we will have bigger fish to fry.
Gerald — As long as they can avoid having D’Shawn Jamison’s returns called back due to penalties, it will be hugely impactful. He would probably have the school record for touchdowns if not for penalties. I wouldn't be shocked to see him or Xavier Worthy pop one on Saturday.
Cameron — Rice had excellent field position for the majority of the game thanks to poor special team play from Arkansas, they just couldn’t cash in on it. Texas, on the other hand, should be able to. If Dicker can continue to punt like he did against Louisiana and force Arkansas into bad field position, it’ll make things so much easier on Saturday for the Horns.
Two-part question: What are your stat line predictions for Hudson Card, Bijan Robinson and whomever the Longhorns leading receiver will be, and who’s Texas’ defensive player of the game?
Cody — Card — 15/23, 248 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT ... Bijan — 23 carries, 147 yards, 2 TD, 4 rec., 41 yards ... Whittington — 6 rec., 92 yards, 1 TD ... Overshown — 10 tackles, 1 sacks, 1.5 TFL.
Curry — Terrible at predictions but why not. Card throws it 30 times for 300 yards and 2 TDs (No INTs — he protects the ball). Bijan rushes 25 times for 150 yards and 2 TDs. Jordan Whittington is double teamed and J. Moore steps up and catches 8 passes for 100 yards and a TD. Can’t make a prediction for defensive player of the week but am hopeful DeMarvion Overshown, who led Texas in tackles against Louisiana, makes big plays against Arkansas and Texas is able to create more turnovers than last week.
Gerald — Hudson Card: 12/18, 200 yards, 2 TD. Bijan Robinson: 22 att, 150 yards, 2 TD. Xavier Worthy: 7 rec, 110 yards, TD. DeMarvion Overshown: 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL
Cameron — I expect Card to eclipse 200 yards with at least 2 TDs, Robinson to near the 150 mark with a minimum of one TD, and I look for Jordan Whittington to lead the team in receiving again — close to that 100-yard mark. Defensively, I think it’ll be between Overshown and D’Shawn Jamison if he gets the task of defending Treylon Burks.
If Texas improves to 2-0 win a win over the Razorbacks, it will be because...
Cody — Hudson Card settles in and adjusts the the stage and environment fairly quickly, the defense prevents quarterback KJ Jefferson and running back Trelon Smith from running wild, and the offensive line improves upon its performance against Louisiana. And, of course, Bijan does Bijan things.
Curry — Texas wins the turnover battle +2. If that happens, Texas covers -6.5 easily.
Gerald — The defense sets a hard edge and keeps KJ Jefferson from beating them with his feet. The two-pronged attack of deep shots to Worthy and a steady diet of Bijan keeps the defense off-balance and the offense dictating the game.
Cameron — The offense executes as they did against Louisiana, Card avoids costly turnovers, Sark finds ways to get the ball to Bijan and J-Whitt, and the defense doesn’t let KJ Jefferson find any rhythm in the passing game.
Prediction: Does Texas reignite this old SWC and future SEC rivalry with its 57th win over Arkansas?
Cody — Yes, and I don’t think it will be particularly close. 37-17 Texas.
Curry — This will be the most hostile fanbase Texas football has seen in years. It’ll be a great kickoff to a renewed rivalry — and a fun home-and-home for years to come.
Gerald — Yes. 35-21 Texas.
Cameron — Yes. Texas 34 - Arkansas 17.