Houston Nutt infamously asked, “Why do we never get to play Vanderbilt?” Arkansas gets to this Saturday at 11 AM on the SEC Network. The Razorbacks are 7-2 against the Commodores all time but could be put to the test at home. Here is a few keys to the game and The Hog Pen’s staff predictions. Enjoy!
Keys To the Game:
1. Stopping Kyle Shumur and the Vandy passing game.
Shumur is a son of a coach and one of the most improved quarterback in the league. Shumur has been quite efficient being 146-246 60% completion rate, 1845 yards 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He is a senior who has played a lot of SEC football and been around a long time. He has exceptional composure but rarely makes a bad throw. The only mark against him may be his ability to escape the pocket. With Chavis, Arkansas could bull rush a lot and heavily impact the outcome of the game.
2. Ke’Shawn Vaughn Can Run the Ball
On the season, Vaughn has recorded 72 carries, 495 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is a big bodied running back that can force his way through traffic in short yardage situations. With the ability Arkansas has in run defense, Arkansas has the opportunity to shut down an already weaker 2018 Vanderbilt running game that lost their all everything, Ralph Webb.
3. The Vandy defense looks nasty.
BUT they are slower in the defensive line and linebacker positions which will be detailed later. The Vanderbilt defense looked to be turning the corner in 2016 but hit a wall last season but never recovered fully and it has carried over into 2018. On average, the Commodores are giving up 408 total yards per game. Arkansas could have a lot more success and see more improvement offensively under Coach Chad Morris.
Kyle: There are two areas offensively I’m projecting will make a statement this week. First, I expect big things from the Tight Ends. Up to this point, not a single team Vanderbilt has faced had much production from that group. I think the coaching staff has taken notice of that and they will attack it.
Cheyenne O’Grady has been one of the key offensive contributors since the A&M game, but I could also see Grayson Gunter coming up big if given the opportunity. He caught a touchdown last week against Tulsa and has quietly made some key plays that have mostly gone unnoticed. Secondly, I’m curious to see if Maleek Williams will get more touches out of the backfield. If he does, I project him to do some great things. I wrote earlier this week about how big Rakeem Boyd has been this year, but it remains unclear if he is one hundred percent. Chase Hayden lost his grandmother earlier this week, but is still slated to play. With Boyd, Hayden, and Williams being the three primary backs it is likely Williams will be relied on more so than at any point since he has been with the team. Expect him to make the most of what he is given. It seems the offensive line is back to full strength and quarterback Ty Storey is medically cleared, so fans will expect this offense to continue where they left off before the injury bug hit.
Defensively, I’d say along with the Auburn game this is the best we have seen them play last week against Tulsa. Though it was against lesser competition you can never not be satisfied with a shutout. However, they will not be satisfied. You could see in their eyes in the post game pressers they want to build off of that, and I believe will show that for the four remaining games. They know at this point in the season they have been the most consistent group and understand they will be heavily relied on as the Hogs have their backs against the wall for the rest of this year. As a team they had six sacks against Tulsa, and I am predicting for them to get at least four this game plus one interception. I’m sticking with my gut to what I said before, Hogs prevail 28-24.
Jacob: It is the battle of the SEC cellar in D.W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Both the Razorbacks and Commodores are battling for their bowl game lives. Arkansas is coming off a shutout victory against a game Tulsa team who pushed AP Top 25 teams Texas and USF. Vanderbilt has had the opportunities this season to have a winning record through 8 games. The ‘Dores pushed AP Top 25 teams Florida in Nashville, Notre Dame on the road and Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium but were all ultimately losses in the end. The Arkansas offense has come alive lately with the emergence of Ty Storey and Rakeem Boyd. Vanderbilt is giving up 198 yards per game on the ground which could mean open holes in the defense for the electric Boyd to strike all morning long. Quarterbacks are able to complete passes at a 62 percent clip.
Storey, who finished 12-16 against Ole Miss before being injured, is back as the starter after a one week absence. Ty Storey throws for 250 in the air and finds Mike Woods twice for touchdowns. Rakeem Boyd will expose the Vanderbilt defense for a tune of 173 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Vanderbilt quarterback, Kyle Shumur could have a quality day as he passes for 272 yards 1 td and 2 interceptions. Commodore running back, Ke’Shawn Vaughn will not find running room due to Arkansas stuffing the weak Vanderbilt running game. Vaughn finishes with 62 yards on the day without a score. Arkansas’ defense has held teams at time this season but plays their second complete game in a row as they defeat Vanderbilt 31-17.
Christian: Arkansas, coming off of a shutout victory over the Tulsa Hurricanes, is facing what seems to be an eerily similar Commodore squad. While the game is being played at DWRRS in Fayetteville, Game atmosphere hasn’t been very much of a factor for the Hogs thus far considering attendance hasn’t been spectacular this year, especially when playing lesser quality opponents with AM Kickoffs.
Both Vandy and the Hogs- despite falling short in close games respectively- are trying to capture their first SEC victory and fighting to stay out of last place in the overall standings, however both teams are likely to finish last in their divisions. The teams on paper are evenly matched and inconsistent in conference play largely due to injuries suffered at the Running back position as both teams are considered to have Elite SEC caliber backs when healthy -Both RB’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Vandy) and Rakeem Boyd (Hogs) are expected to play and either could be the deciding factor in this SEC East Vs. West matchup.
When healthy, Vandy’s key offensive players, Veteran QB Kyle Shurmur, WR Kalija Lipscomb, and RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn coupled with a veteran Offensive line has proved to be more then capable against the likes of Florida, Notre Dame, and other top defenses in the country, giving the Hog secondary an opportunity to shore up tackling. The Hogs backfield should be vastly improved with Ty Story returning this week, providing the Hogs with more consistency on offense along with standout RB Rakeem Boyd. The Commodore defense has definitely taken a step back this year in comparison to previous Derek Mason squads but the Dores are long and rangy in the secondary and slower at LB paving the way for another big O’Grady game. I’m giving Arkansas the slight Offensive edge with Boyd and O’Grady having big games again (which isn’t much of a hot take) so I’ll pair that with the emergence of Freshman WR Mike Woods this week.
Armon Watts has been more than a pleasant surprise along with Sosa and Ramsey breaking out on the defensive front backed with stud LB’s. I’m going to give the edge defensively to the Hogs as well, barring the improvement of Ramirez and tackling overall in the secondary.
Arkansas wins 28-17 keeping Vandy winless in SEC West stadiums since 2012.
Bailey: I think Scoota and Sosa are going to have an awesome game. Ty is going to play with guts and have 275 passing yards. Not sure about the run game with Vandy’s defense. Hopefully, Boyd gets at least 100 yards!
Josh: Ty Storey is back! Let’s hope he’s hitting on all cylinders after his week off. But even if he’s not, Arkansas should be able to move the ball efficiently. The Commodore’s rush defense has been struggling recently. Kentucky compiled 280 rushing yards against them last week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple backs including Rakeem Boyd go over 100 yards.
But look out for some explosive plays from Vandy! Senior QB Kyle Shurmur will pick Arkansas’ secondary apart if the Hogs are unable to apply pressure. I expect him to do just that. He’s averaging over 230 passing yards per game and I don’t expect him to have any problem surpassing that number against the Razorbacks. Also, keep an eye out for Junior RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn. He can be explosive. I expect at least one 60+ yard run from him. But overall, I expect Arkansas to keep him contained.
Both teams are struggling. Both teams are looking for their first SEC win. Both teams desperately need a victory. I expect Arkansas to rise to the occasion and squeak out a narrow victory and set their sights on upsetting LSU next week.