Hogs Efficient in Red Zone

FAYETTEVILLE -- Florida's inefficiencies inside the 20-yard line have been well-documented this week.

The Gators are 10th in the Southeastern Conference in red zone offense and have produced points on 12 of their 17 opportunities (70.6 percent). Three missed chances came in the 20-3 win against Kentucky, when quarterback Chris Leak threw two interceptions and the Gators failed on fourth-and-goal at the 4.

While the 16th-ranked Gators (2-1, 1-1 in Southeastern Conference) have struggled, Arkansas (3-1, 1-0) has prospered inside the 20. The Razorbacks are second in the SEC behind Georgia -- which is 12 of 12 -- in red zone offense, scoring on 18 of 20 possessions (90 percent).

Arkansas has scored touchdowns on 16 trips, which leads the SEC. Florida, Auburn and LSU are tied for second with 11 red zone touchdowns.

"When we get inside the 20, nobody freaks out," said left guard Stephen Parker. "There's no busted assignments when the defense throws their blitzes and goal line (package) at us. We see it in practice and we stay calm."

Parker said the Hogs benefit from quarterback Matt Jones, whose athleticism has turned broken plays into touchdowns on several occasions. But Arkansas also has a pair of confident and powerful running backs like true freshman tailback Peyton Hillis and junior De'Arrius Howard to carry the load near the goal line.

Jones has run for two touchdowns -- including his jaw-dropping, 6-yard score against Alabama last Saturday -- and thrown for 3 more in the red zone this season. Howard has added three rushing touchdowns. And each of Hillis' team-leading six touchdowns (5 rushing, 1 receiving) have come inside the 20.

Hillis is tied for the SEC lead in scoring despite touching the ball just 31 times in four games. He has been used as Arkansas' goal-line and short-yardage back and coach Houston Nutt said the Conway native makes the most of his opportunities.

"He is so strong willed and has a great nose for the goal line," Nutt said. "He'll twist, he'll turn, stay on balance and knock a guy back."

Arkansas tailback DeCori Birmingham missed most of Wednesday's practice because of his bruised back. But the senior, who didn't play in the second half of Arkansas' 27-10 win against the Crimson Tide, said it shouldn't slow him Saturday.

"I got the injury Saturday and I really haven't given it any time to rest," Birmingham said. "I tried to do a little something early (Wednesday) and it was bothering me, so the coaches told me just to relax because we've got a big game coming up this weekend. We didn't want to push it today."

Nutt said other banged up Hogs continued to improve Wednesday and hopes they'll be ready Saturday. That includes Howard (shoulder), defensive backs Michael Coe and Chris Houston (ankles) and tight end Payne Hall (shoulders).

The Hogs are confident they would've completed an incredible come-from-behind victory in their 33-28 loss to Florida last season if not for former safety Tony Bua's late personal foul. Bua's helmet-to-helmet hit on Leak negated linebacker Sam Olajubutu's interception near midfield and gave the Gators a game-clinching first down with little more than a minute remaining.

Florida held the Razorbacks to seven points until the fourth quarter, when Jones led the Hogs to 181 yards and three touchdowns in a furious rally that fell short. But Florida linebacker Travis Harris believes the Gators still would've secured a win if Olajubutu's interception stood and the defense went back on the field one more time.

"I think the defense would have stepped up to the challenge," Harris said. "We were ready to go back out there. We had stopped them the whole game and it was on us. We were thinking at the time that we would get another chance to go out there and seal the deal."

Arkansas began preparing for crowd noise at "The Swamp" by playing music on loud speakers during Wednesday's practice. Nutt said he wants his team to understand "the environment is different than the comfortable surrounding you've been in." ... Receivers Cedric Logan and Anthony Brown have been simulating Florida's speedy wideouts during practice ... The Razorbacks hold a 9-15 record in SEC road games under Nutt, but are 5-2 in their last seven.

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