After dropping their SEC opener to Ole Miss, the Arkansas Razorbacks are looking to bounce back against the Colorado State Rams at home.
After two straight games of struggling on offense, the Razorbacks are going with a new face at the quarterback position. Nick Starkel, a graduate transfer who previously played for Texas A&M, will replace Ben Hicks for Saturday’s game against Colorado State. After Hicks had a rough day against Ole Miss, Starkel stepped in and went 17-24 for over 200 yards and a touchdown.
“It wasn’t so much what Ben did or didn’t do, its what Nick did,” said head coach Chad Morris. “We’re looking a for a spark, something to get our offense moving, create momentum, create some yards and create some opportunities for some big plays.”
There is some talent in this Razorback offense, it is just young and inexperienced. However, the key for Arkansas is defense. When the defense are making stops and creating big plays, the offense can take care of the rest. In two games, Arkansas has been able to generate five takeaways. In addition, they have had success in getting to the quarterback.
The Rams are coming off a demolishing win against Western Illinois, 38-13. Quarterback Collin Hill has been solid so far in the season for the Rams. He’s thrown for 738 yards, 7 touchdowns, and owns a 70 percent completion percentage. The Rams are putting an impressive 383.5 yards per game through the air and 160 yards per game on the ground. In the passing game, Warren Jackson leads the team with 15 grabs and 142 yards. Receiver Dante Wright has been impressive with 10 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Looking at the defense, Jamal Hicks leads the Rams with 16 tackles and Cam’ron Carter has 12 tackles. Ellison Hubbard and Toby Mcbride both have 2.5 sacks. Defense hasn’t been a problem for the Rams. However, what has been a problem is the penalties and fumbles. The team has totaled four fumbles within the last two games. In their last game, they totaled 80 yards lost from penalties.
Arkansas has struggled on offense this season. That could be a problem in this matchup, as the Rams have some big guys on the D-line that can make big plays. But Starkel bringing a spark to this offense could be a major game-changer for the Razorbacks. Unlike Arkansas, Colorado State has been effective on that side of the ball. Still. they will be facing a lethal pass rush coming from Arkansas. Hill has been hot for the Rams and Wright can get you on the air and on the ground. As good as the Razorback pass rush was, they seemed fatigued towards the fourth quarter against Ole Miss. It will be an interesting one to watch, especially with Arkansas having a new hope in Starkel.
Colorado State and Arkansas are set for a 4:00 p.m. ET kickoff on SEC Network.