TULSA — Tyler Wilson, beware.
No team in the country has sacked more opposing quarterbacks this season than Tulsa, which will be chasing after Arkansas’ NFL prospect of a quarterback on Saturday.
The Golden Hurricane (7-1) lead the nation with 35 sacks this season, averaging a whopping 4.4 per game. All that pressure on the quarterback is one reason why Tulsa will carry a seven-game winning streak into its matchup against the Razorbacks (3-5).
“We never set a goal about the sack thing,” said linebacker DeAundre Brown, who leads Conference USA and is tied for ninth in the nation by averaging a sack per game.
“It just came to us and now we pride on it and we just keep pushing forward to make it better.”
Although Brown leads the way from his middle linebacker spot, second-year defensive coordinator Brent Guy has been getting pressure from everywhere in his front seven. Thirteen players have recorded sacks for Tulsa this season, including every starting defensive lineman and linebacker.
Defensive end Jared St. John is right behind Brown with seven sacks this season.
“We’ve been more effective and efficient at the same time. We’re being unselfish and listening to the play call, not doing our own thing,” Brown said.
The challenge could get tougher this week against an SEC offensive line that is allowing only 1 1/2 sacks per game. Through the first seven games, the Razorbacks had allowed four sacks to Alabama’s top-ranked defense but a total of only four against the other six opponents.
Then, Mississippi got to Wilson three times while beating Arkansas 30-27 last week.
“I think it’s interesting that we do a good job with sacks and getting them, they do a great job of preventing them,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said.
Texas A&M is the only SEC team that has flung it around more than Arkansas, which has thrown 304 passes on the season with 11 sacks allowed.
“They’re throwing the ball all over the place and yet not giving up many sacks,” Blankenship said.
“Part of that is certainly a tribute to the offensive line. I think those guys are really solid up front. ... I think they’ve done a good job of protecting Tyler, but also I think you have to give him some credit that he doesn’t sit back there and hold the football. He’s pretty good about getting rid of it. He kind of has the timing in his head and handles that pretty well.”
The clock could be ticking come Saturday.
“They do a good job of changing up their pressures,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. “A lot of them, they’ve gotten people to not check. They disguise them pretty good and a lot of them keep people from checking. Some of them have been on second effort. Some they got the quarterback to hold the ball. ... And then some of them, I think, have been because they’ve had a big lead. They’ve got people to throw the ball so much and they’ve gotten a lot of sacks.”