State of the Hogs: Will Power

Arkansas "imposed its will" on South Carolina with a 34-3 run to earn biggest victory of Bobby Petrino's time in the Ozarks.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ryan Mallett called it "imposing our will." Really, Arkansas did a little of everything in a 41-20 romp over South Carolina.

The Hogs ran the ball. They stopped the run. They made some plays in special teams. They forced turnovers.

It was the kind of performance Arkansas fans have waited on ever since Bobby Petrino told them his philosophy the night he came to the Ozarks.

The Hogs protected their quarterback, hit the Carolina quarterback. They threw it deep. They hammered the edges with sweeps. They solved blitz packages. Basically, they made the Gamecocks say uncle.

"I don't like to say we whipped someone physically until after I see the film," tight end D. J. Williams said. "That's when you know. The film always tells it exactly the way it is.

"But I think I know this time. I think I know what I'm going to see. I think this was a dominating performance on both side of the ball. I think we won the physical battle."

They appeared to win the mental battle, too. Petrino's staff had a team prepared to take advantage of the Carolina schemes. They worked over defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's defense that led the SEC against the run and they beat his blitzes with both deep and short routes.

"Our coaches had our team extremely well prepared," Petrino said. "It was our most complete game."

The Hogs had possessions where they picked up blitz after blitz, some with runs and some with big completions. Petrino thought the Gamecocks decided to back out of the blitzes when Mallett beat "a max blitz" with a 57-yard bomb to Jarius Wright.

And make no mistake, it was a bomb.

"He threw it a long way and Jarius ran by them and got it," Petrino said. "That got them out of some of that stuff."

Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said that will slow down the blitzes.

"When your receiver just goes out there and runs by you and the quarterback throws it that far, that will stop some of that stuff," McGee said. "They had really been bringing a lot of different pressures until then."

Petrino said it wasn't blitzes they'd seen on video this year from Carolina.

"It was more the kind of stuff they had given us two years ago here," Petrino said. "There was one series where there were 12 or 13 plays in the second quarter and they had a different blitz on 10 of them. Ryan really handled it well. Ryan had some checks in that one, some of them to runs."

Mallett said it's good to solve the blitzes.

"There was some straight blitz out there at times tonight, but we accept that challenge," he said. "I know that some teams think that's the way to play us, come after me. We have a good blitz check system.

"But when you run the ball, that takes it out of them, too. We had some things in the second half with our running game that were adjustments to their blitzing."

Much of it had to do with the motion packages with extra tight ends in the game. The Hogs outflanked the Gamecocks with their sweep game.

"We picked up something they were doing with their end when we motioned," Williams said. "We'd practice against them doing it one way, but they changed. We'd move the tight end, then motion, and the defensive end was slanting inside.

"That really helped our run plays on the perimeter. There were times we'd have three dog pound (tight ends) in there, counting Van Stumon. We'd move all three to one side and they didn't seem to adjust. We had the outside edge on them."

Running back Knile Davis gets credit for 110 yards on 22 carries, three of them for touchdowns. But he said it was easy pickings.

"I thought our offensive line put it on them and there came a point that (South Carolina) just quit," Davis said. "I think the third quarter was such a big momentum swing that we knew we were going to win, they knew we were going to win. They were playing to get the game over.

"They have a good defense, a very good front four. We knew that coming in. But our offensive line did a great job against that front four."

Mallett saw the pounding the Arkansas offensive line was laying down. He saw the holes open, including one in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard run by Broderick Green. He gave the touchdown signal as Green hit the wide opening in the middle.

"I did," Mallett said. "They were in an all-out blitz and we hit it. The hole was big. I thought Broderick was going to score, but the safety made a great play to get there."

By then, most of the 75,136 in Williams-Brice Stadium had exited.

"They have a good crowd, good support, but it did get pretty empty in the third quarter," Mallett said. "That tells you how we played. They can be loud in this stadium, but we took the noise out of it with the way we came out."

The Hogs knocked Marcus Lattimore, the beast-like Carolina runner, out of the game. He made only 30 yards on 11 carries, an average of 2.7 yards.

Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin said, "He's good, but our defensive line kept blockers off of us and they got to him first. We were able to hit him before he got going. We got him stopped and then we could play the pass. When you stop the run early, it changes the game.

"It's assignment football. You get lined up right, you do your individual assignment and then you run to the ball. It's that simple. We did that tonight. We had a lot of guys all doing their job and that's what happens on the scoreboard when you do that.

"You have to give a lot of credit to the offense for the way we were able to play on defense because they had long possessions. They let us rest. Then we got off the field. It just kinda builds when the offense keeps the ball like that."

Defensive Jake Bequette said it was that simple.

"Coming into the game, it was all about the run," Bequette said. "We knew we had to run the ball. We knew we had to stop the run. Lattimore is a good player, but we jumped on him early and took the crowd out of the game."

Carolina coach Steve Spurrier thought the die was cast early as far as the running game. Yes, Lattimore left with an injury, but that wasn't the problem early.

"He was there early and we seemed not to have any running room," Spurrier said. "If Marcus is not in the game, we can still play. Other guys have to go play."

The Hogs took advantage of a Spurrier mistake, a fake punt that Elton Ford and Jerico Nelson recognized.

"Fourth-and-5 at midfield, we thought it looked pretty good," Spurrier said."And it did look pretty good. But one guy backed out and we didn't block him. At the time, I thought it was the right call and I would do it again. We were struggling to stop them and trying to get a possession there, we didn't make it."

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