Dennis Johnson (33) ran for 161 yards and a touchdown last week vs. Ole Miss.
The Golden Hurricane, which ranks ninth nationally in rushing yards per game and third in rushing touchdowns, has quite a combination in juniors Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts and senior Alex Singleton. Douglas (5-11, 189) has started five games this season and is the leading rusher (702 yards, 6 TDs on 89 carries). Watts (5-11, 190) has three starts this season and is listed atop the depth chart. He’s rushed for 507 yards and 2 TDs on 73 carries. And while the 6-1, 260-pound Singleton doesn’t start, he has the most carries (113) and has set school records for rushing touchdowns in a single season (15) and career (34). … Arkansas senior Dennis Johnson set career highs for carries (27) and rushing yards (161) in the 30-27 loss to Ole Miss last Saturday in Little Rock. It was his first start of the season. Junior Knile Davis, who has six starts this season, won’t play Saturday because of a hamstring injury. Senior Ronnie Wingo has been nursing a shoulder injury and hasn’t had a carry since the Sept. 29 game at Auburn. ADVANTAGE Tulsa
Tulsa junior Cody Green spent most of October dealing with an injury to his throwing shoulder, but he had a bye week to get healthy before playing Arkansas. It sounds like there’s a good chance he’ll Saturday. He’s completing a little more than half his passes and has thrown for 1,329 yards and 10 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. Sophomore Kalen Henderson started in the Rice game on Oct. 20 and completed 8 of 23 passes for 201 yards and a TD. No matter which QB is in the game, Hogs defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said the Golden Hurricane does the same stuff from a scheme standpoint. … After being snubbed by the Davey O’Brien Award, Hogs QB Tyler Wilson got good news this week when he was named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The senior holds 26 school records and leads the nation in passes of 60-plus yards (6) and 50-plus yards (8) and is tied for first nationally in passes of 70-plus yards (3). But he got banged up early and wasn’t at his best against Ole Miss, throwing as many interceptions (2) as touchdown passes. ADVANTAGE Arkansas
Tulsa’s leader in receiving yards and catches, sophomore Keyarris Garrett, was questionable for the Rice game because of an undisclosed health issue, according to the Tulsa World. But he ended up playing in the game, making three catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he has 28 catches for 443 yards and 5 TDs. … Arkansas will be without two of its top pass-catchers as senior tight end Chris Gragg is sidelined with a leg injury and junior receiver Brandon Mitchell is still being held out of games for a violation of team rules. That leaves senior Cobi Hamilton to carry a bigger load unless one of the seldom-targeted receivers steps up. Only two of those guys have 10 or more catches this season – true freshman Mekale McKay (13) and junior Jevontee Herndon (10). Hamilton is the only SEC player averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game and is tied for 10th in the NCAA in receptions per game (7.25). ADVANTAGE Arkansas
Three seniors, a junior and a sophomore make up the Golden Hurricane’s offensive line, which has paved the way for a potent running attack (248.8 yards per game) while ranking third in the nation in sacks allowed (4). Tulsa is anchored by senior center Trent Dupy, who has made 44 career starts, including 41 consecutive. … Much like 2011, Arkansas’ offensive line was bad early in the season, but seems to have improved some as the season has progressed. Dennis Johnson’s rushing total last week was impressive, and the O-line’s recent play against weaker competition has been encouraging. But the three sacks allowed vs. Ole Miss? Not so much. That was the most the Hogs have allowed since giving up four vs. Alabama, although the Rebels do love to blitz. This week, the Razorbacks are facing a Tulsa team that leads the nation in sacks (35 for minus-255 yards). ADVANTAGE Even
Chris Smith had two tackles for loss and a sack last week.
Four seniors start up front for Tulsa, which ranks 26th nationally in rushing defense, four spots ahead of the Hogs, giving up 121.13 yards per game. Defensive end Jared St. John is tied for 21st nationally with 7 sacks. Tackle Deashon Bufford has 3. Redshirt freshman Derrick Alexander, the brother of Hogs commit Dominique Alexander, is a backup at end. … Arkansas’ front will have a serious challenge this week, but these guys have been pretty solid at stopping the run. Senior DeQuinta Jones is expected to play after missing the past couple of games to rest his legs. Junior end Chris Smith and sophomore Trey Flowers are tied for sixth in the SEC with 4 ½ sacks each. ADVANTAGE Arkansas
Tulsa senior middle linebacker DeAundre Brown ranks ninth nationally and leads Conference USA with 8 sacks for minus-60 yards, and he ranks 17th nationally and fourth in the conference in tackles (82). He’s seen action at all three linebacker spots this season because of injuries to teammates, but has been at Mike for the past four games. Junior middle linebacker Donnell Hawkins (ACL) was lost for the season about five weeks ago. Redshirt freshman Trent Martin has been out the past four games with a leg injury. … Arkansas is also thin at linebacker because of injuries, but the Hogs have been pretty happy with the performances of senior Terrell Williams, a Tulsa native, and true freshman A.J. Turner. Turner has started the past two games at the weakside spot and has tied for the team lead in tackles in both. ADVANTAGE Even
Senior safety Dexter McCoil has set the Tulsa record for career interceptions (15). McCoil, who’s started 32 consecutive games, has two picks this season. He’s second on the team in tackles (52). Junior safety Demarco Nelson has made 33 career starts. Seniors Lowell Rose and John Flanders man the corners for a team that ranks 95th nationally in pass defense and 75th in pass efficiency defense. … Arkansas pass defense allowed Ole Miss to have two 60-plus-yard scoring drives to end both halves last week. The Rebels ended up with 278 passing yards, not too much less than the 301.25 the Hogs’ 116th-ranked pass defense has been allowing. ADVANTAGE Tulsa
Nathan Holmes is back to returning punts for the Hogs.
Tulsa is pretty solid on special teams, and has been excellent on kickoff returns. Watts ranks third nationally and second in Conference USA with 10 returns for 346 yards and a touchdown. But how many opportunities will he get vs. the Hogs, whose strong-legged kicker will no doubt try to send it through the end zone? On punt return, Watts ranks 50th nationally and fourth in the conference with 10 for 64 yards. Sophomore Cole Way punts and kickoffs for the Golden Hurricane. He averages 40.7 yards per punt, including 13 inside the 20, and has averaged 62.4 yards on 57 kickoffs with 29 touchbacks. True freshman Daniel Shwartz handles field goals (7 of 11, with a long of 45) and extra points (37 of 39). … Count head coach John L. Smith among those who don’t like the new kickoff rules. He voiced his opinion this week, saying it’s hurt the Hogs’ return game. Johnson is the SEC record-holder in career return average (23.6), career kickoff return yards (2,759) and career kickoff returns (17). But he’s averaged 18.9 on 15 returns this season. Sophomore Keante Minor has had issues fielding punts, and he’s expected to be replaced by true freshman Nathan Holmes in this game. Junior Zach Hocker leads the nation with an average kickoff of 65 yards, and his touchback percentage (71.43) leads the SEC and is third nationally. Senior Dylan Breeding ranks third in the conference and 11th nationally with an average of 45.2 yards per punt. He’s dropped 13 inside opponents’ 20-yard line and has a long of 72. ADVANTAGE Arkansas
Arkansas’ rushing defense vs. Tulsa’s rushing offense
There’s nothing complicated about this one. Arkansas’ run defense ranks 30th nationally and gets one of its best defensive linemen back in Jones. Arkansas linebackers Williams and Turner are pretty good against the run, too. Tulsa’s run game is stout, as is that 260-pound running back, Singleton. When he’s in the game, the Golden Hurricane will turn to a compact formation with two tight ends and bring in an extra tackle. They’re going to pound it, and you have to stop it.