GAINESVILLE — After watching hours and hours of Arkansas’ offense this week, Florida safety Cody Riggs texted running back James White, a former high school teammate, with one fairly obvious observation:
“You guys like to run the ball a lot,” Riggs wrote.
White’s response: “I know.”
No. 18 Florida expects its toughest test of the season when it faces revamped Arkansas, which is making strides under former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and his run-heavy offensive scheme.
The Razorbacks rank second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 237 yards a game. The Gators, meanwhile, top the nation in run defense, allowing 53.5 yards a game.
It should make for an intriguing matchup tonight — the first night game in the Swamp since November 2011.
“They’re a power team,” Riggs said. “Nothing we haven’t seen before, but we have our work cut out for us.”
Arkansas’ Alex Collins, a 5-foot-11, 206-pound freshman from Fort Lauderdale, is second in the SEC in rushing. He’s averaging 119 yards on the ground, 25 more than teammate Jonathan Williams.
“They’re going to be physical,” Gators defensive tackle Damien Jacobs said. “They’re going to line up and run it there, and they’re going to run it there until you stop them. We’ve got to strap it up this week. It’s going to be fun.”
Florida could make things not so fun for the Razorbacks.
The Gators haven’t given up more than 66 yards rushing in any game this season. And they showed little drop-off without disruptive defensive end Dominique Easley, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
“Obviously, they lost a real good player,” Bielema said. “But across the board up front, they use their hands well, they’re powerful, their linebackers run. I think they’re more than capable on the back end, which allows their front to be a little bit more physical. It’s an imposing group.”