LITTLE ROCK — Just as Arkansas expected, Louisiana-Monroe came with blitz after blitz Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. The Indians sent cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to try to confuse the Hogs' blockers.
For the third straight week, Arkansas did not allow a sack. Yes, part of that is the mobility of Matt Jones. There were a few times the Indians had the Hogs' protection outnumbered on one side or the other. After Jones eluded the charging blitzer, he'd find Marcus Monk or Steven Harris for a big play.
As co-worker Dudley Dawson so wonderfully stated in the press box as another blitzer failed to get to Jones, "Welcome to Matt's world."
Jones is slippery, but give credit to the offensive line, as Jones and the rest of his big-play teammates did in the locker room after a 571-yard explosion in a 49-20 victory over ULM.
"We had all of those yards because of our offensive line and the other guys protecting me," Jones said. "I had a lot of time."
No one mentioned the men cutting down all those blitzes, fullbacks Brandon Kennedy, Peyton Hillis and Farod Jackson. They got their men all night.
"Our coaches worked over and over with blitz protection this week," Kennedy said. "We knew where they were coming from and we got them most of the time tonight. We were familiar with what they do and were ready for it."
Marcus Monk caught two TD passes from Jones. Monk talked more about the protection than the throws by Jones.
"If you give Matt time, then he's going to do the rest," Monk said. "It's the protection that made it work tonight."
Wideout coach James Shibest said pretty much the same thing.
"You can see the quarterback throw it and our guys make the catches, but the key tonight was the protection on all those blitzes," Shibest said.
"Not to have a sack in three games doesn't happen much. It takes everybody to get a statistic like that. We've got great chemistry right now between Matt, our receivers, our backs and that offensive line.
"With the way we are throwing and catching it now and with the protection, maybe people will think twice about bringing those safeties up there like we saw tonight. We've got great speed at the wideout position and can get them open."
Harris likes the Hogs' chances at moving the ball if teams continue to blitz.
"We saw on film that ULM blitzed the safeties," Harris said. "Obviously, you see that and you think you can go out and make big plays. I don't know if teams can do that against us now, not with the way we are playing right now."
Jones holds the trump card for that with his knowledge of the passing game, perhaps something he didn't have at this point last year.
"Maybe my maturity in the passing game is a little better now," Jones said. "We have the ability to check to some plays that are effective against blitzes. We can do a variety of things. If teams want to put us in one-on-one situations with blitzes, we think we can take advantage of those situations."
Yes, welcome to Matt's world. It's a scary thought now that the Hogs have the protection to go with his magic.
Jones Getting Great Support
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