RazOrbaX Report: Breaking down Hogs' 38-24 win over Ole Miss
The Arkansas Razorbacks had been away from home for 28 days. The weather forecast was foreboding. An Ole Miss team that competed in Tuscaloosa the week before was coming to town to try and steal a win and make Huston Nutt 3-0 with the Rebels against the Razorbacks since the golden handcuffs were taken off. The Alabama game was the best atmosphere in Fayetteville in a long time. With an early start, would the fans fill DWR, tough out the weather and cheer on their beloved Razorbacks? Would Arkansas play a complete game and take care of business? The answers to both were a rousing “yes!” HOG FB VAN STUMON
I know safety should always be the first concern, and I am becoming a cantankerous old man, but the weather delays Saturday were really taxing. Especially since many in the crowd played high school football, at the least, in the driving (almost blinding) rain or sleet. Many fans can name the Razorback games they sat through over the past 40 years that were start-to-finish deluges. The first delay Saturday took 10-20 percent of the crowd; the second would take a bigger percentage. One constant: the crowd was into the game no matter the number left in the stands.
OFFENSE RUNS WILD
Arkansas’ first play from scrimmage was not exactly what anyone would like to see. The Razorbacks opened with two tight ends, D.J. Williams on the line to the left and Chris Gragg as the wingman to the same side. Arkansas loves to fake the stretch play and bootleg back to the other side of the formation and have a receiver underneath short and another one at about 15 yards. Mallett went left and faked to Davis and bootlegged to the right. Williams crossed the field from left to right at about 15 yards. Gragg actually came behind the offensive line from the left slot into the flat on the right. Mallett did not take the short completion to Gragg but tried to squeeze the ball into Williams. The linebacker made a great play and intercepted the ball to set Ole Miss up early.
The Arkansas running game came to life against the Rebels, and Van Stumon was a big reason. On the first big running play of the game, Stumon rolled the corner to spring Ronnie Wingo for 25 yards. On third and goal from the Ole Miss 2, Stumon literally buried his man in the end zone to let Davis go wide and untouched for the score. In the second half, Arkansas always had a lead blocker for the tailback whether it was a fullback, tight end, “H” back or a pulling guard. That allowed the HOGS to get those second-level blocks against the Ole Miss defense and Knile Davis to gain 176 yards.
DEFENSE STOPS RUN
Arkansas schemed for the Ole Miss running game extremely well. The Rebels spent most of the day with three wide receivers trying to get 5 on 5 in the box to help them run the football. The Razorback line controlled the line of scrimmage all day. Arkansas took away the Ole Miss option game with several formations and stunts. Hog DE Jake Bequette lined up wide on several plays, and the outside linebacker came underneath. Another time, the end crashed the dive play and the corner took the pitchman with the safety rolling up on the receiver. Since the success running was almost non-existent, Ole Miss took to the air. This was the most disappointing thing of the whole game: three times Ole Miss beat man coverage too easily for touchdowns. The HOGS did get Masoli out of the pocket and he just does not throw as well on the run but Arkansas could not get any interceptions off his errant passes.
HOG WR JOE ADAMS
With the big wind, Alex Tejada put the ball in the end zone on his first three tries. Mississippi’s Jesse Grandy had one 28-yard return of a short kick to let the Rebel’s start at their 36-yard line. Breeding kicked very well again with two for over 50 and two downed inside the 20. Freshman Zack Hocker continues his magical season, nailing a 46-yarder for the HOGS only score in the third quarter. Lance Ray, the redshirt freshman wide receiver from Florida, breathed life into the Arkansas kickoff return team. Ray only averaged 22 yards on his three returns but attacked the returns and will only get better with practice. Joe Adams finally got someone to kick to him, but no one else might the rest of the year. After he was injured, Jarius Wright almost broke one.
Hot Point Check Up
Goal: DISRUPT THE RUNNING GAME
For most of the game, the Arkansas defense did just that. Subtracting one, third-quarter 45-yard run by Rodney Scott and one fourth-quarter 46-yard run by Masoli. Ole Miss ran the football 40 times for 94 yards. That is 2.3 yards per carry, and that is a winning stat.
Goal: KEEP THEM OUT OF THE RED ZONE
Ole Miss started at the Arkansas 23-yard line after an interception in the first quarter and went minus 2 yards, plus 2 yards, and minus 2 yards with a fumble for no score. The Rebels started another drive at the Arkansas 3 late in the second quarter and went minus 2, minus 1 and 1 and then kicked a field goal. On first and goal from the 8, Ole Miss ran for 7 and the fumbled on the next snap. On three red zone trips by Mississippi, the Razorbacks held them to three points.
Goal: SHUT OUT THE WIDEOUTS
Masoli was not accurate when on the move but was very good in the pocket. Arkansas’ secondary was beaten badly on all three of the scoring passes Masoli threw. Arkansas did not do a good job of looking for the ball.
Kicking Game must find its manhood!
Goal: NO BLOCKED PUNTS
Mission accomplished. Good snaps and good protection along with Breeding’s 41.7-yard average were good. Ole Miss did get too many yards on returns, averaging just less than 20 yards on three returns.
Goal: Go Joe Go
And go he did! Adams’ 97-yard return was one of those “no, don’t do it” plays that became “what a run!” plays. After Adams was hurt on a horse collar tackle after a pass reception (NO FLAG ON THE PLAY). Jarius Wright took one 24 yards and almost broke it.
Continue Consistent Offense
Goal: PICK UP THE BLITZ
Ole Miss did not blitz as much as I thought and only got to the Arkansas quarterbacks twice when they did. The offensive line and the running backs did a great job.
Goal: CONTINUE TO GROW THE RUNNING GAME
Against A&M the Razorbacks showed some life in the running game. It was better against Auburn. It was great against Ole Miss! Knile Davis has become the feature back Arkansas was looking for. With a running game like the HOGS displayed Saturday, the passing game will only be that much better.
Arkansas looked good offensively and defensively in the first quarter. Adams sparked the return game in the second quarter, and the defense made a great stand after a turnover. Hocker’s 46-yard kick highlighted the third quarter, and then Knile Davis exploded in the fourth quarter. The defense covered a fumble to stop a Rebel threat and knocked down Ole Miss’ last pass attempt in the end zone. HOGS win!
UP NEXT: VANDY
Vanderbilt comes to town for homecoming. The Commodores have been a little schizophrenic this year. They have played some games tough and close and have been blown out in others. Arkansas has wounded players who must heal for the November run. Great weather is forecast and the game is at 6 pm, so tailgating will begin early leading up to kickoff. Razorback fans need to show up early and be loud again. This is an SEC opponent that Arkansas HAS NOT beaten in Fayetteville. If Mallett, Childs and Adams are not available, Arkansas still has enough firepower to get bowl eligible Saturday night. The defense must tighten up the secondary and continue to play fast. The offense needs to take what the defense is giving and execute. If the return game grows and joins the excellent kicking, it will be a happy homecoming. GO HOGS!
HOG FB VAN STUMON