Who needs this win more? Butch Jones and the 2-2 Volunteers, who just blew a late lead in the Swamp, or Bret Bielema and the 1-3 Razorbacks, who have lost three in a row and are looking for their first SEC victory this season.
Tennessee doesn’t have a loss as bad as the Arkansas home defeat against Toledo, but the Vols have blown two big leads for their two losses, 17 points against Oklahoma and a 13 point fourth quarter one against Florida.
Regardless of the past, both teams have to focus on the future, and right now Tennessee offensively seems to be headed in the right direction with junior QB Joshua Dobbs and sophomore running back Jalen Hurd. The two have combined for over 600 yards on the ground, with Hurd averaging 100 a game and Dobbs also throwing for 557 yards and five TDs in the air.
“He is very versatile, I thought he did a good job of managing the offense Saturday,” Vols coach Butch Jones said about Dobbs, “With the run game and the run pulls and some things he did that way, he continues to develop in all faces.”
With still a lot of work to do especially in the passing game, Tennessee’s month of October only gets more challenging, as they host #8 Georgia next week, followed by a trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on #13 Alabama. Arkansas has the pleasure of being in the SEC West, which means trips to the Crimson Tide, the Rebels and LSU.
Jones spoke about how difficult this match up will be against Arkansas.
“Playing a very, very talented Arkansas football team, Bret has done a really good job there, you can see his mentality. Very big up front as we all know, they can run the football, but I think Brandon Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in our conference.”
The Razorbacks are no slouch offensively, led by South Plantation’s Alex Collins rushing for 125 yards per game, and senior Brandon Allen, who has thrown for over 1,100 yards through four games. Tennessee’s struggles have come defensively late in games, as witnessed by blowing big leads against Oklahoma and Florida.
The Volunteers rank 18th in the nation in rushing offense, with an average of 248 yards on the ground per game, but they will be taking on an extremely stout rush defense in Arkansas that is ranked 17th against the run, allowing only 93 rushing yards per game. Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema spoke about this specific match up.
“I’m impressed with their quarterback and their running back on offense, #11 and #1 are very, very good football players, kind of makes their whole thing go.”
Kickoff from Neyland Stadium in Tennessee is at 7 p.m. on Saturday in a game that will be broadcasted on ESPN2.