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Football Preview of UT Vols at Arkansas 11-12-11

I got to see Tennessee play at Alabama on tv and the score was 6-0 at the half. The funny thing is that Arkansas also had success in the first half against Alabama. However, the depth started to show in the 2nd half and Bama went on to win both games easily.

I spend a lot of time reading what our Arkansas newspapers have to say about the Razorbacks but I enjoy reading what other papers have to say too. Below is an article from John Adams who writes in Knoxville, TN for the Vols.

John Adams: Arkansas’ offense more fun to watch than defend

By John Adams

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tennessee has played No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Alabama. It has played three other teams currently ranked in the top 25.

But it hasn’t played an offense more capable of exposing its defensive shortcomings than Arkansas.

Even in a 4-5 start, UT’s defense has surpassed preseason expectations. Only three of its nine opponents have exceeded their scoring average at UT’s expense; in the last two games, it has given up just 14 points.

You will have a better idea of its defensive progress Saturday evening in Fayetteville.

Arkansas leads the SEC in points, yardage and first downs. It has the conference’s No. 1 passer in Tyler Wilson and two of its four most productive receivers in Jarius Wright and Joe Adams.

“Statistically speaking, they’re the best throwing team in the league,” UT coach Derek Dooley said at Monday’s media luncheon. “They have a quarterback who has a real playmaking mentality, a little bit like Tyler (Bray) has, and they have a lot of speed.

“It’s not just that they run fast. They play fast.

“And they play with a lot of swagger. Every time a team inches close to them, they answer the bell.”

Their success stems from more than speed. It’s also a testament to the strategical skills of coach Bobby Petrino, who has assembled the SEC’s most productive offense despite losing All-SEC running back Knile Davis to a season-ending injury in preseason.

“Every game, he comes up with a play that’s like an automatic touchdown,” Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright said this summer at the SEC Football Media Days. “That gives us a world of confidence.”

As Dooley said, you can see it in their play. The Razorbacks play as though they expect to score — a lot.

They have done that consistently since the end of Petrino’s first season when his team had all sorts of offensive limitations, especially at quarterback. It didn’t score more than

28 points in any of its first nine games and managed just 31 in one three-game stretch.

By the end of a losing season, when the Hogs upset LSU 31-30, you could see the transformation.

The Razorbacks have scored 30 or more points in 27 of their last 36 games despite playing in the best defensive conference in the country.

One of UT’s biggest challenges will be pressuring Wilson. Arkansas’ inability to slow Alabama’s pass rush figured prominently in its only defeat. But at no point in the season has the Vols’ pass rush been confused with Alabama’s.

Another challenge will be avoiding big plays against a versatile passing attack that spreads the ball around to wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. Sure tackling will be crucial against receivers capable of turning a short pass into a big gain.

Nor can UT ignore the running game, which struggled earlier without Davis but has progressed recently behind Dennis Johnson. He had 86 yards on 15 carries against South Carolina last week after gaining 160 on Ole Miss two weeks earlier.

“Bobby has always done a good job of running the ball,” Dooley. “They’re the other pro-style team in our league, so we enjoying watching them.”

Watching them might be more fun from a distance.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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