Offensively, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Arkansas reminds him of Texas A&M. Defensively, the longtime Wildcats coach says the Razorbacks are similar to Miami.
A combination like that adds up to a very good football team that the Wildcats are preparing to face in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Anything and everything you can think of,” Snyder said, when asked what Arkansas does well as a team. “They are sound in the things that they do.
“I don’t know so much that it’s just their offense or just their defense. I just see them as a well-balanced football team. They have strengths in all segments of the game.”
Arkansas is 10-2 this season with its only losses coming to No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama — two teams that will meet in the national championship game next month.
The Razorbacks boast the Southeastern Conference’s top offense, averaging better than 445 yards per game — about 308 passing yards and 138 rushing yards a game.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson leads the Hogs’ offense. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,422 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, while throwing just six interceptions. Wilson passed for 510 yards and three touchdowns in Arkansas’ 42-38 win over Texas A&M back in October — the only common opponent for the Razorbacks and the Wildcats.
“Offensively, they can throw it around with the best of them,” Snyder said. “They have a very good quarterback who handles and manages the game well, in addition to throwing the ball as well as he does.
“And as much as they throw it, they’re not afraid to run it. They seemingly want to be able to run the ball well.”
Juniors Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr. share the running back duties for the Razorbacks, who were eighth in the SEC in rushing this season. Johnson — at 5-9 and 213 pounds — leads Arkansas with 637 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, while scoring three touchdowns. Wingo Jr. rushed for 440 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Two of the Razorbacks’ most dangerous weapons might just be on special teams, though — receiver Joe Adams and kicker Zach Hocker.
Adams, who has three punt returns for touchdowns this season, leads the nation with a 16.2-yard punt return average — ahead of Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu from LSU.
Hocker connected on 18-of-24 field goals during the regular season, including 13-of-16 from up to 39 yards out.
“I could say very, very positive things, which I have, about their offense and their kicking game,” Snyder said. “I just think they are a well-balanced football team. They have the best punt returner in the country.”
Defensively, the Hogs are fast — a staple of SEC teams — as the country’s top four defenses come from the SEC. Arkansas ranks 51st nationally, surrendering 371 yards per game.
“I think they are a very physical defensive football team,” Snyder said. “They’re a very fast football team, they’re a sound defensive football team. They play in a variety of fronts with a lot of movement up front.”