FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams didn’t get many opportunities to carry the football in last Saturday’s rout of Nicholls State.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams didn’t get many opportunities to carry the football in last Saturday’s rout of Nicholls State.


The sophomore said he played six snaps and got the football four times. But the limited opportunity was more than enough for Williams to put together a big performance. Williams ripped off a 90-yard touchdown run, finished with 143 yards and averaged 35.8 every time he touched the ball last Saturday.


"I did it once on NCAA in a video game," Williams said about the unusual performance. "But other than that, I’ve never done it before."


Williams isn’t alone. Arkansas’ entire ground game has put up some eye-opening numbers through two games this season.


The Razorbacks (1-1) stumbled in the second half of their opener at Auburn, but enter Saturday’s game at Texas Tech (2-0) ranked 11th in the NCAA in rushing yards a game (324) after their 495-yard effort against Nicholls State. Arkansas also has vaulted to the top of the nation in yards per carry (9.4), ripping off enormous chunks on the ground behind a big, physical offensive line and trio of talented running backs.


Texas Tech is expected to present much more of a defensive test than Nicholls State, which served as little more than a speed bump on Arkansas’ path to big plays last week. But the Arkansas offense is confident it will continue to have success running the football against the Red Raiders.


"We’re a very physical offense," Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen said. "Our O-line is very physical up front. It’s something I don’t think they’ve seen yet this year, our physicality. It’s going to be one of our advantages in this game and we’re hoping just to show … Coach (Bret Bielema) preaches the mental and physical toughness of Arkansas football, and if we do that, we’ll be fine."


There are plenty of reasons for the optimism.


Arkansas enters Saturday’s game leading the SEC with seven rushing attempts of 20 or more yards this season. It included the 90-yard run by Williams last week and receiver Keon Hatcher’s 82-yard touchdown. Seven different players have a rushing attempt of 11 yards or more, including receivers Hatcher and Jared Cornelius.


But the Razorbacks’ top two running backs — Williams and Alex Collins — are averaging 16.1 and 8.7 yards, respectively. Collins, who bulked up in the offseason, has been a physical runner through two games. Williams, who took a shot on the shoulder at Auburn, showed his breakaway ability on the big play last week.


"I think each one of them bring a little bit of uniqueness to the game, but I will say this, and I mean this with all due respect, I think Alex Collins probably has had as good a two weeks or three weeks of practice since he’s been here," Bielema said Monday. "That’s really showing up in his game planning. And J-Will, every chance he gets I think he just continues to impress."


It helps that one of the NCAA’s biggest offensive lines is paving the way.


Arkansas’ front five has opened gaping holes for ball carriers to run through. It was evident during a 151-yard effort in the first half at Auburn. The Tigers made adjustments at halftime, limiting the Hogs to two rushing yards in the second half.


But the group’s confidence was rekindled in last week’s dominant performance.


"I don’t know exactly what we expected coming into this, but we expected success and that’s what we’ve kind of gotten with the running game," Arkansas tackle Brey Cook said about the NCAA-leading average of 9.5 yards. "We’re excited to go out there and continue with the season and prove ourselves as an offensive line."


Arkansas understands it won’t be able to rip off yards as easily at Texas Tech, but the Razorbacks’ strength has served as one of the Red Raiders’ weaknesses so far.


UTEP had success running the ball and eating up clock against Texas Tech in last week’s 30-26 loss. The Miners rushed for 277 yards and the Red Raiders are ranked 107th in the nation in rushing defense (227.5 yards).


"I feel like we’re planning on taking advantage of that," Collins said. "If that’s one of their weaknesses, of course we’ll plan on working on that and seeing what we can do to take advantage of in the running game as well."


Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said earlier this week slowing Arkansas’ ground game will be critical to the Red Raiders’ success.


Texas Tech’s defensive front is relatively undersized, so Kingsbury said Arkansas’ physicality is his biggest concern. He said the Red Raiders must use their quickness as an advantage, calling the Razorbacks’ size a mismatch for his group.


"Well, that’s very kind of him, but he’s not going to say we’re horrible, either," Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman said Tuesday night. "I think we’re a pretty good running football team. I’m sure they’re practicing right now to stop the run and maybe if they need to another guy in the box, I’m sure they will.


"They did at last week against UTEP. So I hope they do against us, because that would be the respect factor if they did. And we’ll be ready for it."


Williams said it won’t change Arkansas’ objective, though.


The Razorbacks, who will get sophomore Korliss Marshall back after he was held out of the Nicholls State win, have enjoyed success running the ball so far this season. They’re expecting more in their next test at Texas Tech.


"It’s definitely exciting," Williams said. "We put in a lot of work over the offseason and during camp. So to see the work paying off is fun. Like I said, we just have to keep working hard and continue that success and keep improving."