ARK-UGA defensive preview

Senior defensive lineman Markell Utsey looks to the sideline for instructions. Utsey and the Razorbacks are gearing up for a defensive showcase against No. 2 Georgia on Saturday.

The No. 8 Arkansas football team will face its toughest test so far against the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in Athens, Georgia, in a game shaping up to be a defensive battle.

Both teams have the two of the best scoring defenses in the Southeastern Conference and enjoy unblemished 4-0 records.

Arkansas is ranked 11th in the nation with 14.5 points allowed per game, 12th in yards allowed per game with 267.3 and ninth in yards allowed per play with 4.11.

Georgia ranks first in all three categories, with 3.27 yards allowed per play and 181.8 yards and 5.8 points allowed per game. The Bulldogs’ defense has also scored two touchdowns and allowed one. Georgia has recorded seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Georgia had six defensive players, including four defensive backs, selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said Monday he thinks the Bulldogs are very good at reloading players.

“They’ve recruited really well there,” Pittman said. “And so they’re going to have depth, and that’s just Georgia. Hopefully Arkansas will get that way here soon in the near future where somebody leaves and the next guy steps in (and) he may be as good, he may be better than the guy that left. But that’s where Georgia is. And that’s a credit to their staff and Kirby for recruiting."

Georgia junior inside linebacker Nakobi Dean said Monday that Arkansas has improved since the schools met last season in a game where the Bulldogs won 37-10.

“They are not the same Arkansas team that we faced,” Dean said Monday. “They are way more physical. That’s the game that we at Georgia look for. We pride ourselves on our toughness and physicality, so I’m sure everybody on the team will be excited for a game like this. I know I am.”

In its season opener, Georgia held Clemson to a field goal in a 10-3 victory, riding a pick-six by senior defensive back Christopher Smith to victory. The Bulldogs also had seven sacks in the contest.

Arkansas held Texas A&M to 272 total yards of offense, a season low for the Aggies. Pittman gave credit to defensive coordinator Barry Odom for making offenses try to change plays at the line.

"Barry does a good job of making them guess what the heck we are going to do every week," Pittman said in the postgame press conference. "I really loved what we were trying to get accomplished in our three-down line this week with our ends.”

Senior defensive end Tre Williams earned the title of SEC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Texas A&M. He accounted for four tackles — two for losses — two sacks and three hurries.

Pittman said he remembers when he was the offensive line coach for the Bulldogs and Williams, a former Missouri Tiger, gave them trouble.

"He's a good football player," Pittman said. "I know, because he gave us trouble when I was at Georgia. I had two first-round left tackles. Georgia did, I didn't, Georgia did. But we had a hard time blocking him when he was a freshman and sophomore."

The Hogs and Dawgs will kick off at 11 a.m. inside of Sanford Stadium. ESPN will broadcast the matchup.

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