Bahn: Playing Keep Away From Arkansas' Offense Hasn't Kept Razorbacks From Scoring

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 4:00 pm  

Dennis Johnson's kick return ability is one of the reasons Arkansas has put up points even when opponents have tried to keep the ball out of the Razorbacks' hands on offense. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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Keep the ball from a high-scoring team and you can keep points off the board.

That’s the conventional wisdom and a strategy that several teams have taken against Arkansas this season.

Only there is little conventional about the way the sixth-ranked Razorbacks are putting up points right now. They have scores this season on offense, defense and special teams. For the past four consecutive games, the team has posted a non-offensive touchdown.

So you might play keep away with the Razorbacks (9-1, 5-1), but you’re not necessarily keeping them away from the end zone.

Look no further than Saturday’s game when Arkansas had the ball nearly 15 minutes less than the opponent. Essentially, the Razorbacks spotted Tennessee an entire quarter of game time. And the end result was a 49-7 Arkansas victory.

Much of the scoring against the Volunteers came in the form of a fast-hitting offense. Of the team’s six offensive touchdowns, three came on possessions that took less than two minutes off the clock. Those drives were No. 18, 19 and 20 to last two minutes or less.

“They have quick-strike capability where all of a sudden – you've stopped them for 45 consecutive plays, then boom boom boom, they hit three long touchdown passes,” said Dan Mullen, whose Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-5, 1-5) face No. 6 Arkansas on Saturday in Little Rock.

Mullen and other opposing coaches have more to worry about than the explosive offensive playmakers. Defensively, the team has put points on the board too. Arkansas has a safety and fumble return for a touchdown.

Even when not directly converting turnovers or defensive plays into points, there are opportunities to score. South Carolina saw the Razorbacks turn good field position into points.

After going a month without an interception, the Razorbacks now have at least one in six consecutive games. None have directly resulted in scores, but they have given the team the opportunity to score. Just as importantly, they’ve kept opponents from getting points.

“It’s been huge,” Bobby Petrino said. “Early in the year we weren’t getting that.”

Here’s something the team has been getting all year. And it’s got to be the chief concern for anybody lining up against Arkansas.



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