After a bad loss in Week 2, the Aggies were able to bounce back in Week 3 against the Miami Hurricanes and score a big ranked win at home. Texas A&M will look to keep that momentum going when they head up to Arlington to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks, but this is a very tough matchup for the Aggies on paper. Let’s dive into the trenches and see what A&M will have to deal with when they take on the Hogs.
Texas A&M’s offensive line got a big boost in Week 3 with the return of Bryce Foster. The talented center missed the first two weeks due to illness and perhaps that absence was felt. The center is the leader of the offensive line and often has a hand in altering protection depending on the opposing front. Experience at the position is invaluable so getting Foster back helped out - however, there are still some issues along the line. On film, there were a couple of times I saw guys get beat against Miami due to high pad level or lunging to try to engage defenders. Texas A&M can’t afford to make these mistakes against a strong Arkansas defensive line or the offense will continue to sputter - and they weren’t much more than just enough against Miami.
I don’t foresee the Aggies being able to generate much in the run game given the fact that this Arkansas defense has only allowed 68.3 yards per game on the ground. If Texas A&M is going to score on the Hogs, they are going to have to keep Max Johnson upright. That means Reuben Fatheree and Trey Zuhn are going to have to play an incredible game against a very experienced Arkansas front four. Georgia Tech transfer Jordan Domineck has been the most effective pass rusher up front for Arkansas, with 4.5 sacks through three contest. The overall sack leader is linebacker Drew Sanders with 5.5. Texas A&M has their work cut out for them if Johnson is going to be able to throw the ball. The good news is, if Johnson does stay upright - this Arkansas defense is every bit as bad against the pass as they are against the run. Opposing offenses are averaging 243.7 yards through the air against the Hogs so this is about as good of a chance for the Aggies to get their passing attack going as possible.
The good news for Texas A&M is that this defense only allowed 9 points to a talented Miami offense. The bad news is that in spite of the limited amount of points scored by the Canes - Miami rushers averaged 4.9 yards per carry and went for 175 yards on Texas A&M’s defense. The Aggie defense was able to buckle down and limit the damage anytime Miami crossed over into plus territory but they will be facing a much stiffer test this week in Arlington with an Arkansas offense that has run the ball at will against every opponent they have faced this year.
Arkansas’ experienced offensive line features upper classmen across the board and that experience has been obvious. I love the talent that Texas A&M has across the front line on defense but their inexperience has shown throughout the early portion of the season. This is one of those matchups that is just exceedingly tough for a young unit. Add to that the fact that KJ Jefferson is the most dynamic playmaker A&M has faced thus far under center and it will take an incredible performance from the defensive line to keep Texas A&M in this game. I expect defensive coordinator DJ Durkin to get a little more aggressive this week with his exotics, dialing up stunts and blitzes to try and combat the strength of the Arkansas offensive line. With that being said, since Jefferson is also a major rushing threat - Texas A&M will also need to be careful with how they attack him in the pass rush. The Aggie defensive line will need to maintain rushing lanes and I wouldn’t be surprised if Durkin uses a spy for Jefferson as well. Either way, this is going to be a massive challenge for an Aggie defensive unit that has been the reason Texas A&M has been competitive thus far.
So far through the “Fare” portion of this series, I have highlighted a specific recipe from a barbecue restaurant. If you consume barbecue as much as I do, you’ll know that you often end up heading home with leftovers. There are countless ways that you can make the most of leftover barbecue. One of my favorite ways is to use that leftover meat for egg fried rice. It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients to make and you can get it done pretty quick. With Arkansas being the opponent this week - I decided to head to Tejas Chocolate in order to get some ingredients to use in the rice. The spread below featured pork belly, pulled pork, and pork ribs which all went in to the rice.
Here’s the list of ingredients I use below, I’m not big on measuring things so feel free to play with the proportions as you see fit:
- Day-Old Rice (leftover rice that has been refrigerated is key, otherwise you end up with a sticky fried rice)
- Neutral Oil
- Hot Sauce of Choice (I used Poirier’s Louisiana Style for this batch)
- Two Eggs
- Barbecue Leftovers
- Soy Sauce
- Minced Garlic Cloves
- Shallot (White onion works if you don’t have it)
- Snap Peas (You don’t need additional vegetables but I threw these in to feel a little better about myself)
The best cooking vessel for fried rice is obviously a wok (pan) but I don’t have one so I use a non-stick pan. Get some oil ripping hot in a pan and add in the egg first, it will cook very fast so make sure to keep stirring constantly. The stirring will continue as you add ingredients. Follow quickly with the rice. Once the rice has soaked up some of the oil, I like to add in the aromatics - your shallot/onion followed by the garlic. At this stage I’ll add in the soy sauce, hot sauce, and finally the meat. Once everything has come together a little more, throw in the additional vegetables if you have them. And that’s it! Top with barbecue sauce if you want, I did in this case. Ultimate Pork BBQ Egg Fried Rice - a perfect dish for watching Texas A&M take on the Hogs this Saturday. This is the way I have been cooking my leftovers for awhile but if you want to see a different take on BBQ Fried Rice, I highly recommend checking out the Action Cookbook version.