Texas A&M-Arkansas Preview

The Associated Press

(AP) -- - After playing four straight home games to open the season, No. 10 Texas A&M gets back to SEC play Saturday night with a trip to Arkansas.

The Aggies hope to continue their road dominance from last season when they were 7-0 away from College Station, but they'll be facing a Razorbacks squad that will be anxious to get back on the field following a second-half collapse last weekend.

Texas A&M's road success last year was highlighted by its 29-24 win at top-ranked Alabama.

The Aggies (3-1, 0-1) beat Arkansas 58-10 last season in their first meeting as conference rivals after losing their previous three against the Razorbacks (3-1, 0-0).

Johnny Manziel completed 29 of 38 passes for 453 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 104 yards and another score to lead Texas A&M at home.

Coach Kevin Sumlin said there's no secret to his team playing well on the road. The Aggies, visiting Fayetteville for the first time since a 20-16 win Nov. 17, 1990, keep things simple.

"It's what we do. We don't change our routine much," Sumlin said. "Same routine we use at home we use on the road. Just like a lot of different things, you try to keep it all the same."

He tries to encourage his team to use the crowds on the road to its advantage.

"You try to create your own energy," Sumlin said. "As a competitor, the same type of enthusiasm and enjoyment you get from the home crowd from an electricity standpoint, you have to be able to utilize on the road and I think our team does a good job of that."

The Aggies got an easy 42-13 win over SMU last Saturday to rebound from a 49-42 loss to No. 1 Alabama. Manziel totaled 346 yards with three touchdowns in just more than a half, and the defense had its best performance of the season after struggling through the first three games while dealing with suspensions.

Texas A&M moved top cornerback Deshazor Everett to safety against the Mustangs, and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder thinks the move helped improve his defense overall. Everett returned a fumble for a touchdown.

"The great thing about Deshazor is this; whether he's at corner or safety, he's an eraser, a great football player and I appreciate him for that," Snyder said.

Texas A&M's first-team defense held SMU to a pair of field goals before the Mustangs added a touchdown late against the backups. They hope the solid performance will build confidence as they head back into conference play.

"It feels great," Everett said. "Everything was clicking. It was mostly due to better communication; having the same group in practice all week and translating it to the game, the game felt just like practice. It was easy to go out there and play fast and make plays."

While the defensive improvement against SMU was encouraging, there were also some problems that the Aggies will have to clean up if they hope to fare well in SEC play.

Texas A&M had more than 100 yards of penalties and missed three extra point attempts.

The Aggies are relying on some inexperienced players, but they know that is no excuse for penalties that hurt the team.

"You can say youth, because they are young, but (they are) dumb plays," offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi said. "We just need to get it fixed for next week. I think we came out really well and with a lot of fire. I think that the penalties were just mental mistakes."

Arkansas made the mistake of relaxing at Rutgers last Saturday after taking a 17-point lead in the third quarter. The Razorbacks allowed 21 unanswered points the rest of the way and fell 28-24 to miss out on their first 4-0 start since 2003.

"There was a momentum swing in the third quarter," defensive end Trey Flowers said. "Momentum was on our side and we had every opportunity to put our foot on their throat and we didn't. ... We have to learn to fight to the end."

Arkansas played without quarterback Brandon Allen, who hurt his right shoulder while diving for a touchdown in a 24-3 win over Southern Mississippi on Sept. 14. AJ Derby started and went 14 of 26 for 137 yards and a TD.

The Razorbacks will have Allen back this week as they try to match last season's win total in their first year under coach Bret Bielema.

"The great thing is that we've got an opportunity, a great challenge in front of us," wide receivers coach Michael Smith said. "You've got the (No. 10) team coming into your backyard. ... It's an opportunity for our kids to go out and show that they've matured and that they know how to handle a loss."

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