Arkansas suddenly pass-happy as Georgia game looms

Arkansas suddenly pass-happy as Georgia game looms

October 14th, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia head coach Mark Richt gestures toward the crowd after defeating Troy 66-0 in Athens, Ga.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The Georgia Bulldogs play Arkansas in Little Rock this Saturday, but which Razorbacks team will they face?

Will it be the team that averaged 316.6 rushing yards a game entering last Saturday's contest against Alabama? Or will it be the team that attempted 40 passes in the 14-13 loss to the Crimson Tide?

"Any time you can run the ball like they do, it's going to open up some opportunities throwing the ball," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "They're very capable of throwing it, no doubt, but I don't think they're going to get away from wanting to play that physical brand of football. When you get people so concerned about that, then you almost have to throw the ball from time to time to take advantage of the one-on-ones out there."

The Razorbacks quickly established themselves as a run-oriented team last year in Bret Bielema's first season as coach, and they took that to the extreme last month in a 49-28 win at Texas Tech. They rushed 68 times for 438 yards (6.4 per carry) against the Red Raiders and ran the ball on their final 30 snaps, which resulted in Texas Tech having a scant six minutes and five seconds of second-half possession time.

Arkansas junior quarterback Brandon Allen completed 6 of 12 passes for 61 yards against Texas Tech, but he was 21-of-40 for 246 yards Saturday night against Alabama as the Razorbacks were held to 89 yards on 39 carries.

"We had trouble moving some of those guys," Bielema said of the Crimson Tide during his news conference Saturday night. "We would get 3 yards, but then we would lose a yard. Going against good teams, you've got to adjust and adapt, and I thought we caught the ball pretty well.

"Obviously we like to run the football, but they had something to do with that."

Sophomore Alex Collins leads the Razorbacks with 92 rushes for 634 yards (6.9 per carry), while junior Jonathan Williams isn't far behind with 86 for 569 (6.6). Collins sat out the first quarter of the Alabama game as a result of being late to a practice last week.

Where Arkansas has made the most improvement from a year ago is with Allen, who has completed 79 of 137 passes (57.7 percent) for 997 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Fayetteville completed just 49.6 percent of his attempts with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Though Richt recognizes Allen's improvement, he's still expecting a lot of carries from Collins and Williams.

"They are a physical bunch of players," Richt said. "They are a reflection of their coach, who's a hard-nosed guy. It's going to be a tremendous physical challenge for our players, no doubt.

"I know our guys are already thinking about it and preparing mentally for it. Even though it's a very physical game, you've got to be mentally ready for that kind of thing."

Odds and ends

Georgia's 90-minute practice Monday in shoulder pads and shorts included junior tailback Todd Gurley, who remains indefinitely suspended. ... The Bulldogs hold a 9-4 series edge over the Razorbacks, including a 7-2 advantage since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1992. ... Richt said Monday night on his radio show that senior receiver Chris Conley (knee) practiced.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.