Arkansas Will Need Running Game Clicking to Beat Texas A&M

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will need its offense to be clicking on Saturday night when they take on No. 8 Texas A&M in Kyle Field.

The offense seems to be getting better each week, but will need to be at its best for the Hogs to stand a chance against the talented Aggies. One area on offense where the Hogs are clearly needing to improve is the running game. Sam Pittman was asked how do you fix the running game?

“I don’t know,” Pittman said. “We’ll just have to continue to practice and get better. Certainly we have enough runs and all those things. We just have to get better. Our backs have to be better. Our line has to be better. Our tight end has to better. Wide outs have to get to safeties better. I mean to have a running game you have to have all 10 guys in there getting after it. Everybody on our team has to get better. Our backs have to break tackles. I mean that’s part of being a good back. All those things we have to continue to work on.”

Senior Rakeem Boyd bypassed the 2020 NFL Draft to return to the Razorbacks. He has struggled with injuries so far this season. He has 33 carries for 88 yards and one touchdown so far. That’s far off the pace he set his first two seasons when he rushed 307 times for 1,867 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also caught six passes for 15 yards. It wouldn’t surprise Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher to see Boyd find his game this weekend in College Station.

“I mean Boyd is a big, strong guy, physical, runs hard, runs through people,” Fisher said. “They’ve ran the ball solidly in the games. I mean they’re not averaging tons of yards on it, but they make you play the run. That’s the thing about getting better at the run. You’ve got to practice it, you’ve got to get your line chances at it and they create plays down the field. So they’re running the football really solid and the other thing is Feleipe can run the football. Whether he pulls it or they run the power read, they do any kind of thing in that regard, it can cause a lot of problems. They’re getting better and better at that, and their backs are doing a solid, very good job.”

Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks also feels Boyd is getting healthier and ready to regain his old form.

“Yeah, I think Rakeem has worked extremely hard with the guys in the training room, getting his body back, getting his mind right,” Franks said. “He’s just continually, it’s a process, day by day, he’s getting closer and closer to 100 percent. He feels really good and he looks really good at practice, in my opinion. It’s just something we can build on. He had a really good practice today and we need to build on that tomorrow. I think once he’s 100 percent again, it’ll be good to have him back out there.”

Boyd signed with Texas A&M out of high school and attended school there as a true freshman. Any sense he is extra looking forward to this game?

“I haven’t really talked to him about it,” Franks said. “I can just tell that in everybody’s eyes, including Rakeem, that he’s excited to get back out there. He’s feeling a lot better. His ankle is feeling a lot better, and he’s ready to get back out there and go 100 percent again. I can tell you that, though. He is excited to go out there, just like all of us, and perform and play a big game.”

Redshirt sophomore Trelon Smith leads the Hogs in rushing with 56 carries for 221 yards. He’s tied for second on the team with 14 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Smith has impressed his teammates including wide receiver De’Vion Warren.

“Trelon Smith, that’s a guy that doesn’t complain much, doesn’t really pout much,” Warren said. “He just goes in and works hard every chance he gets. As a teammate he’s a good guy to be around. He makes you laugh and want to be around. He’s a good person to talk to.”

Franks also has been impressed with Smith’s attitude and talent.

“I think he’s a good player, and an even better person,” Franks said. “He just comes in and isn’t the type of the guy to ever complain, not the type of guy to ever want more than something that he deserves. He just goes out there and puts his noise down and works every day. And it’s a testament to the running back room, because all those guys do that. 

“He’s doing a great job keeping his mind in the right spot early in the season and now developing into what he’s become. He’s a good player and his personality is even better. He’s a great guy to be around in the locker room. He’s always keeping a smile on everybody’s face. So good guy.”

Arkansas also has redshirt freshman A’Montae Spivey and true freshman Dominique Johnson at running back if needed. Spivey has four carries for 11 yards.

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