KEYS TO VICTORY
A very little key will open a very heavy door. The Hogs find themselves facing some great expectations this season, preparing for a schedule where nearly half of their opponents earned top-25 preseason rankings.
Head Hog Sam Pittman and players alike have said all offseason they welcome the challenge. But the first step towards a success year will be a season opener against a once-familiar foe in Rice.
Tomorrow's game will be one of several very heavy doors they need to get open. Here are five keys that can make it easier for them.
▶️ 2.8: That's the number of yards that Rice got per rush last season. Granted, this is a team that played a shortened season. But stifling the Owls' ground game will be important for the Hogs in dictating the tempo.
▶️ 7: Rice had just seven sacks in five games, and six of those seven sacks came in two games. The Owls' defensive line was not disruptive last year, and keeping KJ Jefferson up right, free of pressure, and building confidence in the season opener will go a long way this year.
▶️ 36: The Rice offense was on the field for 36 minutes a game last season, second-best in college football. The Owls will try to set the rhythm and do the same against Arkansas. Quick (and early) scores and a strong run game will force Rice out of what's comfortable.
▶️ 65: That's the completion percentage that Hogs' offensive coordinator Kendal Briles wants KJ Jefferson to exceed this season. He can do that against a Rice team whose secondary gave up nearly 7.8 yards per pass last season.
▶️ 2014: At the end of the day, this is an Owls team that hasn't had a winning season since 2014 and has only won 11 games in the past five years. Rice is a good, solid team... but Arkansas should be able to start their season off with a bang.
Arkansas kicks off their season opener against Rice tomorrow afternoon at 1:00pm. You can watch the game on SEC Network+.