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The Other Guys: Arkansas

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NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Arkansas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It was a brutal weekend against the Tide. While Arkansas might not match up play-for-player the way Bama does, the Razorbacks have consistently had some really good players. Additionally, those players seem to save their best performances for the Tigers. Hopefully that is not the case on Saturday.

Defensive End Deatrich Wise Jr.

One of those players who saved his top for the Tigers is Wise, who notched single-game bests in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. He would finish the season with eight sacks and has 3.5 through nine games this season.

What could cause problems

The senior defensive lineman is extremely polished in his pass rush craft. Wise is seldom the last one off the snap. He has a litany of pass rush moves but his two best moves appear to be a bull rush, which is devastating when he can generate some momentum, and his rip move when rushing to the outside. Aiding him are his extremely long, 35” arms which give him excellent leverage against any blocker he goes against. Wise’s motor is also outstanding and he does an excellent job at closing on the passer.

Wise also appears to be a solid run defender. He has good awareness when it comes properly diagnosing run plays and does a great job of tracking down ball carriers, even as they move away from him. When engaged, Wise appears to be solid at the point of attack and does a decent job at getting off his block.

What can be exploited and how

Wise doesn’t respond well when teams send two blockers at him. He doesn’t have the strength to split the double teams and doesn’t appear to be much better when teams chip him with a tight end or a back. On running plays, Wise will play too high and get forced out of position or focus too much on the ball carrier instead of shedding the block, which can lead to the blocker generating an easy push. Additionally, Wise doesn’t change direction very well, especially on stunts where his turns can be kind of wide.

Stopping Wise as a pass rusher is going to take more than one player. To start, the plan could be to simply get an extra chip or shove on Wise to slow him down just enough while allowing the tight ends or backs to get out on routes. If that doesn’t work the Tigers will have to use two blockers on him, especially in passing situations.


Wide Receiver Drew Morgan

On the rare occasion that Arkansas does throw the ball, they look for Morgan. Last year Morgan led the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns and was named second team All-SEC. This year, Morgan leads the team in receptions and yards.

What could cause problems

Morgan is a technically refined route runner. He will implement head fakes and jab steps along with altering his build up speed to sell defenders on one direction before going in a different one. Arkansas likes to deploy Morgan on a multitude of routes, with short passes on screens and hitches to longer developing posts and dig routes.

The veteran wideout does a good job at adjusting to the ball in flight and making some relatively difficult catches with ease. With the ball in his hands Morgan runs hard and has enough quickness to elude defenders after the catch, with enough long speed to be a problem if not accounted for.

What can be exploited and how

Although Morgan is a solid all-around player, he doesn’t appear to have any jaw-dropping physical attributes. He has pretty average height at 6-0 and decent hops but does not appear to be a major red zone target. Arkansas does not appear to use him on a lot of of vertical routes to burn the corners.

The last two games have seen at least one or two instances of a breakdown in coverage for LSU, resulting in a big play for the other team. Morgan is exactly the kind of player who can exploit those kind of lapses. With Arkansas likely to emphasize the play action passing game, and other deceptive passing plays, it will be key for the Tigers to hone in on Morgan.