[title_box title=”Biggest matchups in Vols-Hogs battle for relevancy”]
Saturday, the Tennessee Volunteers will return to their home turf at Neyland Stadium to face the Arkansas Razorbacks.
While most will easily admit that Arkansas has not had the start it expected going into this 2015 season, it goes unsaid that in a conference like the SEC, each team will need to bring its A-game on Saturday if it expects to pry victory from the jaws of ever-hungry opponents.
One matchup Tennessee will need to focus on this week is the one between the wide receivers of Arkansas and the Vols’ secondary.
The Hogs have not been the best this season from the get-go, but the receiving corps is nothing to scoff at. They have plenty of depth and several talented players to call upon when needed, and with the absence of running back Jonathan Williams, Arkansas’ receivers have gotten plenty of receptions every week. They have done a good job of spreading the ball around.
Former Greenwood High School standout Drew Morgan, as well as receivers JoJo Morgan, Jeremy Sprinkle and tight end Hunter Henry, among others, have racked up 1,141 receiving yards so far. In comparison, Oklahoma’s receiving yards through the course of this season are at 1,113. Tennessee’s LaDarrell McNeil, Cameron Sutton and company will have their work cut out for them in the secondary.
The Vols’ defensive backs didn’t have the best coming-out party in Nashville, as players like true freshman Emmanuel Mosley and veteran Cam Sutton allowed a gritty Bowling Green offense to air it out for 423 yards.
But Tennessee’s secondary has redeemed itself as a whole. When it took on an Oklahoma offense starring Sterling Shephard and Baker Mayfield, the secondary held the Sooners to only 187 total yards in receiving. The Volunteers didn’t have much trouble keeping the Western Carolina Catamounts at bay, allowing only 90 total receiving yards.
Fans and players alike recall with disgust, however, the comeback mounted and finished with a flourish by freshman quarterback Will Grier and the Florida Gators. They converted mightily on a fourth down late in the game with a 63-yard touchdown pass. The reception by Antonio Callaway tied the game for Florida, capping a second half comeback and putting a stamp on the day’s receiving yards as they totaled 283.
Since Tennessee will most likely be reeling after such a tough loss in an environment like ‘The Swamp’, the Vols’ secondary and the team as a whole will need to rebound quickly and learn to finish in the second half if they expect to keep Arkansas from leaving Knoxville with a victory.
Saturday’s game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Edited by Cody McClure