The most important game of the year for Arkansas looms next week in Columbia, S.C. If Arkansas wins, there is a chance it can win out and finish 7-4. A loss might mean this team falls all the way to 4-7, but more likely to 5-6.
I've picked Arkansas to win, but I can't tell you with firm conviction
it's a sure victory. I don¹t know enough about the physical condition
some injured players like Matt Jones, Peyton Hillis, Steven Harris and
Tony Ugoh to know if the Hogs can put together four quarters of offense
Visiting with Roy Wittke on Friday, it appears Jones has made solid progress all week in his rehab from injuries to his left leg. He sustained a strain to his groin against Auburn, then aggravated his left hamstring against Georgia.
"If we had to play a game this weekend, Matt will play," Wittke said. "He told me this (Friday) morning when I saw him at treatment that he's definitely better today than he was yesterday. And, he thinks he's better at this point in this week than he was at this point last week."
Aside from those injuries, I do know that the defense is coming together and will play better down
stretch, as long as it remains relatively healthy. The front seven
of the defense played remarkably well against Georgia, winning more
share of the battles last week.
I suspect the secondary, not so stellar last week, will continue to
over the next four weeks when the opposition is not of the same caliber
what it saw the last three games.
Back to next week¹s trip to South Carolina. It's a huge game for the
Razorbacks. Some momentum can be won at Columbia that might carry these
young Hogs the rest of the way and produce much needed off-season
I¹ve been amazed at how things have held together so far. Held
Yes, I think the mental state of these Hogs is better than I would have
anticipated after going 0-3 in October.
I haven't seen one indication that Houston Nutt has lost his team, and
worried that that was just what would have happened to a team with this
inexperience and key injuries.
I figured in preseason that Matt Jones was the key to this team. After
I thought, offensive tackles Zac Tubbs and Ugoh were the next most
offensive players. Tubbs and Ugoh had more experience than about any of
others penciled in for starting spots. I thought those three must stay
healthy for the Hogs to do well on offense.
Well, they haven't. Tubbs was lost for the season with a broken leg on
Tuesday after the loss to Florida during a bruising middle drill to
the first open date. Ugoh missed last week after fighting a kidney
If the Hogs have all their bullets at South Carolina, I have a good
about how they will play. I like the effort I see in the secondary the
two weeks. Yes, there are still mistakes from time to time. They'll
some more before this year ends, but they will be fewer and fewer as
The main ingredient is Jones. It appears he¹s going to be close to 100
percent by the Carolina trip. That is a good sign for the rest of the
Things may begin to settle out if that's the case.
Momentum is a huge factor in sports. It¹s a bigger deal than most can
understand. Some call it confidence. Either way, it¹s a huge part of
happens in each game and each season.
I don¹t think the St. Louis Cardinals ever had a shred of momentum in
World Series. They never led at any point in any game. Momentum was on
Boston¹s side all four games.
Sometimes teams are good enough to swing the momentum to their side.
Sometimes they aren¹t. Sometimes a single player can swing momentum.
Momentum might be critical next week at Columbia. Both teams are
fragile enough that momentum could be the deciding area. Momentum and
confidence might come to the game disguised in a Matt Jones No. 9
Someone who has seen both Arkansas and South Carolina this season tells
that if Jones is "reasonably" healthy, Arkansas should triumph. He has
interesting reasons. He said South Carolina, while better than Arkansas
defense, is not good enough in the passing game to exploit Arkansas'
weakness, the secondary.
Possession time may be the key. South Carolina likes to hold the ball
clock-eating ground game. But, without a great passing quarterback, the
Gamecocks may not be able to do that against an Arkansas defense which
geared to stop the run. Of course, there is another theory. Arkansas'
secondary may be so weak that South Carolina suddenly finds its passing
South Carolina has used four quarterbacks over the past month of the
Injuries have limited those four players in recent weeks. Will any or
them be available against Arkansas?
"That isn¹t as big a deal as whether or not Arkansas has Jones," my
said. "South Carolina's quarterbacks aren't as talented as Jones. Lou
(Holtz) uses them interchangeably. He¹ll run them in for different
The key is whether Jones can play at a reasonable level."
If Jones can go, old "mo" may jump on the Hogs' back for several weeks.
not, November may not be any more fun than October.
State of the Hogs: Carolina
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