This week in our opponent Q&A sessions, we talk to Ryan Higgins of SB Nation Site www.arkansasfight.com to find about the 18th ranked Razorbacks.
MinerRush: So Arkansas is getting a lot of deserving preseason love, simple question, how good do you think this team will be in 2015?
Ryan Higgins: What is crazy is that this fanbase is all over the board. I've talked with people who have predictions of 7-5 and 13-1. I'm talking people who legitimately believe that deep down in their heart. In my opinion, because their schedule is so tough, I have the Hogs going 8-4 (4-4) in SEC play. I think they win all their home SEC games and lose all their road SEC games.
MR: How does the loss of Johnathan Williams hurt Arkansas chances of competing in the SEC West or is Alex Collins and crew enough to carry them over?
RH: It's really weird to think about because J-Will has been healthy for the majority of his career, while Alex Collins and Kody Walker have been knicked up at times, especially Walker. As of right now, yes, I think they have enough depth at RB to be okay. It will be interesting if Collins can step up during conference play, where he has only had two 100 yard rushing performances.
MR: What do you expect from Brandon Allen entering his third year as the starter at QB?
RH: I'll say he throws for 27 touchdowns and throws seven picks. I think his interceptions actually go up from last year, because he is going to have try to make some plays this season to get the Hogs over the hump. Last season, if it wasn't there he would just throw it away. I expect him this year to try to make a few more plays before throwing it into the stands.
MR: Bret Bielema told the media he plans on playing a lot of guys on Saturday, who are some freshman or newcomers on either side of the ball that you are excited about seeing?
RH: The biggest newcomer is Dominique Reed at wide receiver. The Hogs' receiver depth over the past few seasons have been about as deep as a Donald Trump campaign speech. He's a play maker that will be exciting to watch. With the injury to Williams, freshman Rawleigh Williams will also get some snaps at tailback. One defense lineman Hjalte Froholdt, linebacker Dre Greenlaw are the two guys everyone will be watching. Froholdt because a freshman playing on the defensive line in the SEC is almost unheard of, and Greenloaw because the Hogs are thin at linebacker and he could provide much needed depth.
MR: Your OC has expressed concern with UTEP's blitz heavy 4-2-5 scheme, is that something Arkansas' offensive line has seen before, and do you think UTEP can actually have some success with their multiple blitz looks?
RH:Ellis Johnson ran the 4-2-5 at Auburn before he got fired last year, so the Hogs have seen it before. I think it could disrupt the passing game and pass protection, but let's look what would happen if the Hogs go I-Formation on running play.. They will have five offensive linemen over 300 lbs to take care of the front four plus a linebacker. Then there is a 250 lbs tight end and fullback leading the way for more blocking. If the Hogs don't average six yards a carry Saturday, I will be shocked.
MR:Have you seen UTEP's Aaron Jones before, and is he someone that can give UTEP a chance to move the ball against a very good Arkansas defense?
RH: I have not seen him play, but I have seen him on about every running back award watch list to start the season. I personally hope that he has a good game, because that means there will be long and sustained drives by UTEP. That will test the Hogs' defense depth, which I believe needs to be tested before SEC play. UTEP's offense is a great simulation of what the Hogs will see against Alabama and LSU.
MR: UTEP keeps it close if.....
RH:They run the ball well and have long sustained drives to keep the ball away from the Razorback offense.
MR:Main thing you want to see Arkansas execute versus UTEP?
RH:I want Brandon Allen's completion percentage at 70% for the game. That means he's not throwing the ball away and he's actually checking down and making progress down the field.
Prediction: 42-10 Hogs
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Big thanks to Ryan, follow him Twitter @rhiggins479, and check out Arkansas Fight for more Arkansas coverage.