Arkansas aims to remain in national spotlight after TCU win
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Like the rest of his Arkansas teammates, Brooks Ellis spent much of the offseason focused on a better start to the season than in recent years.
Now that the No. 24 Razorbacks (2-0) have reached that goal, the middle linebacker isn't about to let the hint of success get in the way of what he hopes are greater things ahead.
Arkansas made its return to national relevance with a dramatic double-overtime victory over TCU a week ago, the Razorbacks' eighth win in their last nine games dating back to last season.
Ellis was at the center of the win, finishing with 13 tackles and a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown. And after starting last season 2-4, including a shocking loss to Toledo, he's not about to let Arkansas relax as it prepares to face Sun Belt Conference member Texas State (1-0) on Saturday.
''It's easy to get caught up in what happened last week, because it was a great game, but it's time to move on and time to get ready for Texas State,'' Ellis said. ''Because they're a good team, and we have to be ready for them.''
Ellis has reason to be wary of the Bobcats, who are led by first-year coach Everett Withers. In addition to the fact Texas State opened its season with a 56-54 victory in three overtimes at Ohio, the Razorbacks also remember their struggles in a non-conference game to open the season – a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech.
Much more is expected now out of Arkansas following last week's win over the Horned Frogs, and they'd prefer to avoid a third straight close game to start the season while sticking around for a while in the national rankings.
''We've won eight out of nine, and I think we should have won the ninth (against Mississippi State last season),'' Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. ''… I am excited about where our program is.''
Some other things to watch as Arkansas tries to remain undefeated entering Southeastern Conference play next week against Texas A&M:
ALL ABOUT TEMPO: Texas State used its up-tempo offense to manage 98 plays in its season-opening win, and Withers wants that number to be in at least the 80s this week. That will be no easy task against an Arkansas team that leads the SEC in time of possession. ''The challenge for us is to get the ball back to the offense so we can go tempo and get more than five, six, seven possession per game,'' Withers said. ''The key is getting off the field (on defense), because what teams like Arkansas is they wear you down.''
ALLEN'S BREAKOUT: Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen bounced back from an up-and-down starter debut against Louisiana Tech with a career day in last week's victory. The junior was 17-of-29 passing and accounted for four touchdowns against TCU, including a game-winning 5-yard run, and he's hoping for more of the same on Saturday.
EARLY BYE: Texas State had a bye last week after its opening win, and Withers said the Bobcats went back ''into training camp mode'' with a week off so early in the season. The former James Madison coach, when asked about the win two weeks ago over Ohio, even joked the game ''was like a year ago.''
WORKHOUSE WILLIAMS: Less than a year after breaking his neck that resulted in surgery, Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams had career-highs with 28 carries and 137 yards rushing against TCU. The sophomore now has 52 carries through the first two games and has clearly established himself as the primary rushing option for Bielema.
FAMILIAR JONES: Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones brings plenty of experience to Saturday's game, having played in each of the last four seasons for the Bobcats and thrown for 6,712 yards in his career. Jones was 40-of-55 passing for 418 yards and four touchdowns in the Bobcats opening win.
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