University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (1-0) vs. Samford (1-0)
Saturday, War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, 6 p.m.
Coverage: ARSN (radio), PPV
GIMME FIVE — KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME
1. Start Strong
Arkansas is aware of the FCS vs. FBS statistics from week one. The Razorbacks know an upset can happen. But Arkansas also knows it can squash Samford’s upset hopes with a strong start tonight. So the goal: Bury the Bulldogs in the first quarter.
2. Lean On Your Line
The Arkansas offensive line was dominant in its debut last Saturday, setting a physical tone in the trenches against ULL. The improved front wants to do it again against the Bulldogs. Similar results will lead to another comfortable win.
3. Sound On Special Teams
Samford could hurt Arkansas on special teams if the Razorbacks aren’t prepared tonight. Especially Fabian Truss. The running back returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a TD and had a 46-yard punt return in the win against Georgia State.
4. Turn Up The Heat
Arkansas’ defense enjoyed a nice debut in collecting four sacks against an offense that had allowed just 13 in 2012. Trey Flowers, Chris Smith and the rest of the Razorbacks’ front want to put even more heat on Samford’s offensive front.
5. Avoid Sloppy Play
Turnovers and penalties are always prominent to upsets. Sloppy play can make a big favorite like the Razorbacks struggle. Arkansas was pretty smooth in its opener (one turnover, four penalties) and knows it must avoid those costly miscues once again.
TODAY’S KEY MATCHUP
Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams (6-0, 222, So.)
Key Statistics: 18 carries, 151 yards, TD vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
The sophomore showed his durability in the opener, shaking off a second quarter shoulder stinger to return in the second half and enjoy the SEC’s second-best rushing performance of the week. It included a 75-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, when Williams started to his right, cut back left and outran defenders to the end zone. Williams should continue to get plenty of help from freshman Alex Collins tonight, but the back remains the Razorbacks’ No. 1 threat on the ground as they work toward another dominant rushing performance.
Samford LB Justin Shade (5-10, 229, Sr.)
Key Statistics: 6 tackles, PBU in win against Georgia State
Shade is wearing No. 5 after being named the ninth recipient of the Charles Williams Memorial Jersey, which is given to one of Samford’s senior leaders each season. The middle linebacker is at the heart of a defense facing a big task tonight. Arkansas ran at ease against Louisiana-Lafayette and intends to do the same against the Bulldogs in War Memorial Stadium. Arkansas should have no trouble blocking Samford’s front, leaving Shade and the rest of linebackers to play a key role in keeping leading rusher Jonathan Williams from turning minimal gains into game-breaking plays.
Edge: Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams
UA’s Brandon Allen was impressive in his season debut throwing for 230 yards, 3 TDs with an efficiency rating of 201.0; Samford’s Andy Summerlin is a sixth-year player who threw for 193 yards and a touchdown in the Georgia State win.
Sophomore Jonathan Williams (151 yards) and Alex Collins (131 yards) rank 9th and 21st in the nation in rushing yards after their opening-week success; Samford’s Fabian Truss is an all-purpose threat, totaling a team-best 94 yards last week.
Allen appears to have found a go-to receiver in Javontee Herndon, who caught 2 TD passes last week. TE Hunter Henry played well, too, with five catches in his debut; Emmanual Obajimi led Samford receivers with 4 catches for 37 yards last week.
UA center Travis Swanson kicked off his senior season in style by recording an impressive 16 knockdown blocks in the season opener; Left guard Kasey Morrison (23 starts) leads a Samford offensive line that averages just 288 pounds.
UA’s Trey Flowers showed he has All-SEC potential with 2 sacks, 3 TFLs and a forced fumble in the opener. The line finished with 3 ½ sacks a forced fumble and INT; DE Calvin Ruff recorded Samford’s only sack and tackle for loss in its opening-day win.
UA defensive coordinator Chris Ash was impressed with MLB Austin Jones’ performance — six tackles — in his first start; Senior Justin Shade led Samford’s linebacker corps with six tackles in the opener and has 155 in his career.
UA S Rohan Gaines is questionable today because of a knee injury, leaving Alan Turner in line to start his second straight game; Arkansas believes Samford S Jaquiski Tartt – who returned an INT for a TD last week – is an NFL-caliber player.
OVERALL: Arkansas 42, Samford 10
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau