by Chris Bahn on Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012 9:07 am
(Photo by Mark Wagner)
This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.
Secondary play was among Arkansas’ biggest concerns entering the season.
So far those concerns have not proven unfounded.
Entering this week’s game against No. 1 Alabama the Razorbacks rank No. 108 nationally in pass defense. They have allowed 319.5 yards per game through the air in matchups with Jacksonville State (a Football Championship Subdivision opponent) and Louisiana-Monroe.
Further compounding the issues in the secondary is the fact that top cornerback Tevin Mitchel is out for an undisclosed period of time after sustaining a head injury against ULM and having his gall bladder removed while in the hospital. Kaelon Kelleybrew, a walk-on, and Darius Winston, who a week earlier lost his starting job to Kelleybrew, are the team's starters against Alabama. Safety play has also been suspect when it comes to stopping the pass.
Traditionally the Crimson Tide has not been a prolific passing team. But it enters with quarterback A.J. McCarron having thrown for six touchdowns and no interceptions and Alabama leads the SEC and ranks No. 4 nationally in pass efficiency (198.56).
McCarron has completed 25 of 40 passes for 318 yards. He threw for 2,634 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2011. Arkansas gave up 200 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 20 passing to McCarron last season.
“He’s good. He knows the offense,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said. “He knows his checks. He knows how to read defenses. He’s a great player. We’ve just got to go out there and execute."
Below we look at where Arkansas ranks nationally and among SEC schools in major statistical categories.