Hogs ran & passed Sun Belt test; now to SEC

Hogs ran & passed Sun Belt test; now to SEC

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FAYETTEVILLE - It came against New Mexico State and not an SEC  opponent like South Carolina.

But Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen completed 19 of 26 passes last week to six receivers for 264 yards without being sacked, while the running game rushed for 230 net yards in a 42-24 victory over Sun Belt member New Mexico State.

Arkansas battles South Carolina at 3 p.m. Saturday in an SEC Network-televised game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.

“New Mexico State brought pressure about 60 percent of the time, and I thought our guys picked it up well and gave me time to throw,” Allen said Tuesday night after the Razorbacks practiced inside the Walker Pavilion. “And I thought the wideouts played a heck of a game.  Anytime they got the chance to make a play, they did. I thought the offense clicked pretty well.”

The running game sparked the passing attack with running backs Devwah Whaley (19 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown), Chase Hayden (12 for 48 yards and two TDs) and David Williams (51 yards on 15 carries) benefiting.

“The running game really got it going for us,” Allen said. “Devwah had a heck of a game. David played well, and Chase played well, also. When those guys are going, everything is going for our offense. They understand, and the whole team understands it.”

Allen said the Hogs also understand that New Mexico State’s defense and the defense of second-year South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp contrast in caliber.

“Yeah, they’ve got a bunch of athletes on that side of the ball,” Allen said. “Any time you play an SEC opponent, the defense goes up. Every time you turn on the tape you see them big, fast and physical and playing hard. They present a challenge and we’ve got to be ready for it.”

South Carolina ranks sixth in the SEC and 37th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 20.8 points per game. The Gamecocks rank fourth in the SEC in turnovers forced.

“They are a swarming defense,” Allen said. “They play a different coverage every snap it seems like. They do different things and bring different guys and come from different areas. Watching film you might see some tendencies, but they mix it up so it’s kind of hard to find them.”

At linebacker for the Gamecocks, the Skai is the limit.

“Skai Moore is a heck of a football player,” Allen said. “You watch film he’s making a lot of plays. He’s a guy we’ve got to be ready for.”

The Gamecocks likely will be ready for David Williams, a three-year Gamecocks’ letterman and Arkansas graduate transfer. Williams says little about it, according to fellow running back Whaley.

“He’s going back to where he started but he doesn’t want to be a distraction,” Whaley said. “David has been quiet about it. But he’s been working hard. He’s ready.”

Williams won’t be the only player Saturday knowing his opposition personally.

Opposing quarterbacks Allen and South Carolina sophomore starter Jake Bentley know each other well.

“I went to Manning Camp, and he was my roommate,” Allen said. “So I got to hang out with him. He throws the ball really well and is a gritty, tough guy and the nicest guy you’d ever meet off the field.”

No player in Saturday’s game is more familiar with the Arkansas vs. South Carolina game, an annual SEC West vs. SEC East event from 1992-2012, than Austin Allen.

Bobby Allen, Austin’s father and the Razorbacks director of high school and NFL relations, coached on Arkansas defensive staffs from 1998-2012.

“I remember Carlos Hall blocking that field goal against them a long, long time ago,” Allen said, recalling a 10-7 Arkansas victory in 2001 over the Gamecocks in Little Rock. “The last time we won there (41-20 in 2010 in Columbia, S.C.) Ryan Mallett and Jarius Wright had a big game.”

Quarterback Mallett and receiver Wright are in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.

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