The Wildcats have dropped to a 1-5 record through the first half of the season and are slowly limping to the finish line. The story of the year has to be the injuries that this team has suffered and how they have occurred at the positions where they are least convenient. Now, they’ll head down to Fayetteville for a tough test on the road.
What you really need to know about Arkansas:
The Razorbacks were supposed to be a BCS contender this year and challenge Alabama and LSU for the SEC West. After offseason turmoil that ultimately resulted in Bobby Petrino’s departure, things have not worked out that way. The offense has been a turnover machine and has thrown 8 interceptions and lost 9 of their 23 fumbles at this point. After kicking off the season with a win over Jacksonville State, Arkansas has dropped four of their last five games with their only win coming from a hapless Auburn team. The struggles that plagued the Razorbacks early in the season have subsided some, but there will still be some concern for the team’s fans when Kentucky rolls into town despite the Wildcats’ own struggles.
The players you really need to know for Arkansas:
#10 – Tyler Wilson – QB
Preseason expectations for Wilson were through the roof, but injuries and spotty offensive line play have kept him from having the type of season that would make him a household name. Despite early results, Wilson is an immensely talented quarterback that can torch opposing defenses. He’s averaging 317 yards per game through the air this season and he has to be licking his chops at the prospects of taking on a Kentucky secondary that features five true freshmen with extended playing time this season.
#7 – Knile Davis – RB
Davis was supposed to be one of the top running backs in the country last year, but a knee injury ended his season before he could even take off. Now recovered, Davis has been a semi-consistent threat on the ground for Arkansas. If he can get going early in the game against Kentucky, he could have a career day against a defense with so many freshmen and backups playing.
#45 – Alonzo Highsmith – LB
Smith is a solid SEC linebacker and currently leads his team with 54 total tackles. He can drop into coverage or rush the passer and offers his team some flexibility in scheme.
#86 – Trey Flowers – DL
Flowers is the type of defensive lineman that quarterbacks dread. He’s relatively light (250 pounds), but his lack of size has helped him get around opposing linemen to the tune of 4.5 sacks this season. Kentucky’s offensive line will have its hands full trying to keep him off of the quarterback.
Top 3 match ups to watch:
UK’s Jalen Whitlow vs. UA’s Alonzo Highsmith
Whitlow will have is working out friend this week as he takes on one of the most productive linebackers in the conference. Without the luxury of having Towles or Maxwell Smith behind him, he’ll need to deceive the defense and Highsmith to allow the offense to run productively.
UK’s Darrian Miller vs. UA’s Trey Flowers
This matchup couldn’t be simpler. Flowers will be out to get Whitlow. It’s Miller’s job to protect him. With only a suspect Morgan Newton to play quarterback behind Whitlow, Miller will have to keep him safe.
UK’s Cody Quinn vs. UA’s Cobi Hamilton
Quinn is played remarkably well for a true freshman, but he’ll have a sizable task this week. Hamilton is a big guy at 6’3 and 209 pounds, and can move for a guy his size. When will have to grow up fast to take Hamilton, his team’s top receiver, out of the game.
Potential breakout players:
#16 – Cody Quinn – DB
#3 – Fred Tiller – DB
#15 – JD Harmon – DB
#7 – Daron Blaylock – DB
#17 – Zach Blaylock – DB
With five true freshman expected to play in the defense of backfield, the Kentucky secondary is as young as anyone’s in the country. Quinn, Tiller, Harmon, and the Blaylock twins, will have to grow up quickly and will have plenty of opportunities to make plays against Arkansas’s high octane offense.
Key for a Kentucky win:
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, and turnovers. Kentucky has to get their share from a sloppy Arkansas offense, and the Wildcats will have to protect the ball on their own account.
Arkansas 31 – Kentucky 20