By Drake Priddy

FAYETTEVILLE – Redshirt junior guard Brady Latham is set to make his 38th collegiate start this weekend against the BYU cougars at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium.

Before the start of the season, Latham set a team best of 36 consecutive starts before being sidelined in the 2023 season opener against WCU. Latham was a part of last year’s offensive unit that beat BYU on their home turf 52-35.

The Razorbacks won big last year in Provo, Utah, but are by no means overlooking the Cougars. Latham and the Hogs are ready for their first challenge of the season.

“Yeah, they have a really talented defensive line,” said Latham. “They have some really good linebackers. They’re really smart and they play super hard. They give us some different looks, which we’re going to have to prepare for and be ready. We’re going to need to spend some extra time in the film room. Make sure we know the looks and we’re comfortable with them. It’ll be a good challenge and we’re up for it and we’re excited for Saturday.”

Last year, the offensive line’s pass and rush protections were dominating in Provo and contributed to 367 passing yards, 277 total rushing yards, and seven touchdowns. But the Hogs return only two starters to the offensive line -Latham and Beaux Limmer- and just like Arkansas, BYU will have new starters.

“I don’t think there’s any concern that we’re going to underestimate BYU,” said Latham. “We’re playing them again, but we have a really new team. We’ve got a lot of new guys up front, we’ve got new guys at almost every position. We’ve got guys who this is their first year being Razorbacks. We’ve got a lot of transfers. So, this is a new team. They’re a new team. They’re a really good team. We’ve watched a lot of their film. They’ve won a lot of games. So, we’re not underestimating them at all.”

Pulaski Academy, Alum and BYU, defensive tackle Caden Haws, will be one of the guys Limmer will be facing this weekend.

“He’s a great player,” said Limmer. “I actually know a lot of PA guys. Used to room with Hudson Henry and JD White. I’m really good friends with Luke Jones from playing with him. And if I know one thing, those PA guys are smart and they’re going to play really hard. So, I remember him from last year and I expect him to play the same way.”

With a different BYU team coming to Fayetteville, many fans are worried about the Arkansas run game. Last season, the Razorback’s running attack averaged 236.5 yards per game. The Hogs could only put up an uncharacteristic 105 total rushing yards against WCU and 172 total rushing yards against Kent State. Latham talks the importance of establishing the run game and finding the right fits.

“We’ve had a huge emphasis on getting to fits and driving,” Latham said. “The O-line has gotten together, and the run game is kind of what we want to be known for. We’ve had success in the past in the run game and we want to continue to have success. So we’ve taken these challenges really personal, and it’s something we’re going to get fixed, and we’re working really hard at.”

Latham praises starting quarterback K.J. Jefferson’s physical play style as the tone
setter for the offense.

“I know in the past in big games and stuff like that, when KJ is running down the field and he lowers the shoulder instead of sliding or something, it always gets me a little bit juiced,” said Latham. “Like if my quarterback is going to go lay someone out, then, shoot, I can dig deep and keep going. So KJ getting physical definitely makes me want to play harder.”

Jefferson’s physicality is nothing new to the BYU defense. Last year, on what should’ve been a ten-yard sack, Jefferson broke five tackles before connecting with former tight end Trey Knox for a 33-yard reception. It made for a great highlight for Jefferson, but a highlight Latham does not like to look back on.

“Well, it’s not my favorite play to watch since he almost got sacked, but we see it a
lot,” said Latham. “It’s all over Instagram, all over social media. We’re really lucky
to have a player like KJ who can bail us out and make big plays when we need
them.”

BYU will be the first formidable opponent for the Hogs and could be a gauge of how the rest of the season will go. But just like every football game, the key to success starts in the trenches. With returning starters Latham and Limmer, as well as SEC veteran Josh Braun, this offensive line unit should in theory find the right fits soon.

Arkansas and BYU will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night in Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.