Kentucky Football has its first home game in almost a month this weekend when they take on Arkansas. It is just the second meeting this decade between the two schools, the other coming in 2012.
Both teams roll into the contest at 2-3 and in search of their first win since September. Here’s what you need to know about the Razorbacks:
Chad Morris is in his second season leading Arkansas, following three years in the same position at SMU. The team is 4-13 overall under him, and he has yet to win an SEC game in ten tries.
Junior Nick Starkel sits atop the quarterback depth chart. He was injured in the first half of Arkansas’s game against Texas A&M and missed the remainder of the contest, but is healthy again and will start on Saturday. He has thrown for 1,019 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, five of which came in the game against San Jose State.
Backup Ben Hicks has also seen some playing time, and filled in admirably versus the Aggies when Starkel went down.
“The two quarterbacks, there’s no drop off,” Kentucky defensive lineman Calvin Taylor Jr. said after practice Wednesday. “They’re both pretty good.”
Rakeem Boyd, who has racked up 483 yards on 91 carries, is the Hogs leading rusher. The talented runner drew praise from Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White in his press availability Wednesday.
“Boyd is a really talented running back,” he said. “Little bit of a one cut, really physical.”
The Razorbacks have a litter of options in the passing game, led by very young receivers. Sophomore Mike Woods and freshman Trey Knox both have 21 receptions and two touchdowns, and are separated by just two total yards – 301 and 299 respectively - on the year. Freshman Treylon Burks also plays a role, with 13 catches and 230 yards.
“They’re younger, but they’re talented,” White said about the group. “It’ll be a really good test for us across the board.”
The elder statesman of the group is senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, who has brought in 18 balls for 243 yards and a score.
Arkansas’s defense ranks right behind Kentucky’s in average yards per game in the FBS. Defensive back Kamren Curl leads the team with 39 tackles and two interceptions. Linebackers De’Jon Harris and Bumper Pool rank second and third in tackles, with 34 and 30.
Senior defensive lineman Jamario Bell and McTelvin Agim have the most sacks with 3.5 and 3.0, respectively. The unit as a whole has 15 quarterback takedowns.
Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith provided some analysis of the Razorback defense after practice yesterday, focusing on their scheme and ability to get multiple guys around ball carriers.
“They run a lot of cover one [formations],” he said. “They rally around the ball and they’re fast.”
Kentucky and Arkansas play Saturday night at Kroger Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The game can be viewed on the SEC Network and the ESPN app.