John & Stephen at RazorbackExpats.com, a University of Arkansas blog, have generously agreed to do a Q & A swap with us here at A Sea of Blue. This is our first Q & A here in quite a while, so be sure to go over to their site as well and check out my answers to their questions. We hope to also do a similar Q & A during basketball season, which will be particularly exciting considering that both the Hogs and the Cats have brand new coaches, and have an incredible history against each other. Could that rivalry be renewed?
We'll see, but now, to the Q & A for the big football game on Saturday:
First things first, and the first thing that comes to mind with Arkansas is Darren McFadden. Have you seen any team in the SEC (or elsewhere, for that matter) with a defense sufficiently tough to hold him under, say, 125 yards?
Hmmm...maybe the Baltimore Ravens or New England Patriots? In the SEC, the best bet would have to be LSU - their defense is scary - but D-Mac went for about 180 against them last year.
The only thing is, our bravado on this subject only applies if McFadden is healthy. If his current workload continues, he might be on crutches by the end of October. Of course, he would still be good for at least 75 yards and a TD that way.
Arkansas is currently next to last in the SEC in pass offense. How much do you think the run/pass imbalance impacts the Razorback's prospects winning on Saturday?
It's huge...it impacts our prospects of winning not just this week but every week. Given how good our running game is (D-Mac gets the press, but Felix Jones is pretty amazing too, as is Peyton Hillis), our offense would be almost unstoppable with even an average passing game. It's definitely a shame. Hey, do you think Andre Woodson is interested in transferring?
Last year, when our defense was better, we would have been a legit national title threat with a decent QB...we almost beat Florida without one, and we all saw what they did to Ohio State.
Last time Arkansas and UK met in 2003, they scored 134 points between them in a historic 7-overtime game. Do you see this game as likely to be similar (i.e. a shootout)?
Well, we're not betting on 7 overtimes this year, even though Houston Nutt does have an odd and amazing ability to get into (and usually win) these epic OT battles. But given our mediocre pass defense going up against your strong passing offense, plus our running game doing its thing, we would guess that a shootout is very likely.
Arkansas is currently next to last in the SEC in pass defense. Can McFadden & Jones score enough to outpoint Woodson, Burton & Co.?
We're the optimistic type of fans, so we'll say yes. We did put up 38 points against Bama, and our passing game even showed flickers of life after the first quarter. We're guessing that it'll be a close one, though. If it were being played in Lexington we'd probably bet the other way.
Special teams is a serious positive for Arkansas right now, and a bit of a negative for Kentucky. How significant do you think special teams play will be on Saturday?
Interesting that you'd say that...a lot of Razorback bloggers love to rip on the Hogs' special teams. We're not really experts in this area, but the feeling of the other bloggers is that we've been narrowly avoiding disaster in that area all season. Special teams certainly cost us big-time in the SEC Championship game last year (that fumbled punt on the goal line was the turning point). We do seem to finally have a reliable kicker, though, so that's good.
How hard has Marcus Monk's injury impacted the success of the Razorback passing game?
It's been huge. Monk is a legitimately great receiver...we're a different team with him in there. His injury has been a big setback for us so far this year.
Kentucky is a historical SEC doormat, although Arkansas is only .500 in SEC games against the Cats. How do you rate the Kentucky team this year vs. the traditional powers of the SEC?
To be honest, we haven't thoroughly scouted the rest of the SEC so it's a little hard to say. The SEC as a whole is so good that it seems like almost anybody can beat almost anybody (with a few obvious exceptions). LSU and Florida are clearly the top two, but after that there's a big pack of good teams - including Kentucky and Arkansas - who will probably beat each other up all season long. And then there are the Mississippi schools, God bless 'em.
Can I get a copy of Houston Nutt's little black book? I'll pay ...
Sure, just text us and we'll send it right over.
Why does Arkansas list McFadden as injured when we all know he is invulnerable to the feeble attempts of mere mortals to hurt him? Is this some kind of psychological warfare, or is Nutt just going all Gandalf on us with attempts at subtlety?
Houston just wants to infuse the game with a little extra drama. The plan is to have McFadden sidelined in a wheelchair during the first half, then he'll come back in the second half and run for 300 yards and 4 TDs. We just need to make sure we fall behind by a little less than 31-10 to pull it off.
What do you think of Kentucky's running game, and how do you think the Arkansas defense will do against Raphael Little & Co.?
We've always thought that Kentucky has had a great running game, particularly those mid-90s Rick Pitino teams. Those guys could really get up and down the court, hitting the 3's and making other big plays on offense and defense. Wait, is that what you meant?
Thanks to John & Stephen for the outstanding answers to our questions. I know we are all looking forward to the game. I hope both teams play well and do their fans proud. I just hope we play a little better ...