The Bulldogs’ defensive coaches don’t know if Arkansas is going to start sophomore Robert Johnson, its regular starter, or go with redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen in an attempt to jumpstart its passing game. They don’t care a whole lot, either.
“I’m a lot more worried about their running game,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “They do such a good job of running the ball, we have our hands full no matter who plays quarterback.”
Arkansas leads the SEC and is sixth in the country in rushing offense with 263.3 yards per game. That number was padded a little by the combined 804 yards the Razorbacks had against Missouri State and Louisiana-Monroe, but they still are averaging 193 yards against SEC competition.
Martinez is quick to point out that Arkansas ran for 237 yards against Alabama (which has the nation’s 10th-best rush defense) and 197 yards against Southern Cal.
The Razorbacks average just 135.8 yards per game through the air, worst in the SEC and 110th in the nation.
Mortensen, a more likely choice than fellow freshman Cole Barthel to replace Johnson if there’s a switch, would be making his first collegiate start, but Martinez said it’s not too hard to play quarterback in the Razorbacks’ system because the ‘Hogs’ running game makes the play-action pass so effective.
“It’s basically, ‘Hit the wide-open guy,” Martinez said.
There main difference between the players is that Johnson is more of a threat to run. There’s also the fact that Georgia has an idea of how Johnson will play. Mortensen is a wild card.
“We don’t know how the Mortensen kid is going to react,” Martinez said.