Patience Pays Off For Razorbacks Against MSU

STARKVILLE -- Patience. That's one of the big storylines in Arkansas' 24-21 football victory against Mississippi State on Saturday.

And, that's not even taking into account that State's Bulldogs jumped on the Hogs 14-0 in the opening 10 minutes.

I'm talking about the Hogs heroes. Guys like Pierre Brown, Cedric Washington, De'Arrius Howard, Elliott Harris and Gene Perry. Those five players made the necessary plays on a day when Matt Jones didn't have any magic in his legs. All of them can be proud that they waited their turn and made big plays.

Even Jones found some patience. He sat in the pocket more than ever before as his wide receivers worked their way clear, sometimes on crossing patterns over the middle. Some have suggested the Hogs didn't even have that play in their arsenal, but they did when the Bulldogs set their safeties wide and deep.

Washington is just a sophomore, but he's had to become Mr. Patient as a freshman stole the show some predicted last spring would be his this season.

Perry grew up in nearby Crawford, Miss., but wasn't coveted by the Bulldogs. The Hogs put their running game in his lap against the team he now hates the most. Perry responded with a bruising performance, blocking Howard, benched earlier this year, to 125 yards.

Harris lost his end spot to a true freshman in August, but the senior from Marianna had the blocked field-goal attempted which led to the winning points, Brown's 76-yard return for a touchdown.

Washington has been the Hogs' third wide receiver this season. He's gotten a handful of starts when the Hogs have opened with their "trip" set as they did against State. Washington responded Saturday with a career day in catches (five) and yards (101).

"We talked as a staff all week that the flanker would be big this week because of the way (MSU) played (their safeties) and what we expected them to do with Marcus Monk," said UA wide receiver coach James Shibest. "They did double Marcus. That made Cedric and

Steven Harris, our Zs, the primary target on more plays.

"I'm proud of Ced. He made the switch from quarterback and it's a big mental switch. He's been real patient with it and kept working hard. I had said last week that Ced had been practicing well and was ready to explode. He caught a lot of critical passes today."

Washington set up a TD with a 44-yard reception to the MSU 2 to set up the Hogs' first touchdown.

He added an 18-yard catch and run to erase third-and-15 as the Hogs kept it for 18 plays for

their go-ahead TD. Washington converted two more crucial third downs in the fourth quarter, the last with 1 minute, 38 seconds left as the Hogs kept the ball for the game's final 4:32.

"I didn't have to do too much," Washington said. "Give credit to Matt. He sat in the pocket, real patient. More patient than I've seen him. He showed he could be a pocket passer today. He set his feet and delivered some great balls. I thought Matt took his passing to another level today. This was an extremely fun day."

No one had any more fun than Perry, the Hogs' senior right guard, the first ever junior college transfer to start for line coach Mike Markuson.

"This feels great," Perry said. "I grew up and dreamed about playing on this field, for State. They didn't want me so I came here today and paid my respects.

"This was fun, but it took all day to win this game. I thought we were winning the war up front, but I reminded my line teammates that we had to keep fighting and not get overly excited. We still had more to do."

That's the storyline for next week, too. Patience.

LSU stands in the way of a bowl trip. Jones spoke on that.

"We had to be patient and wait for the opportunity to play LSU," Jones said. "None of us have thought about that game in Little Rock until now. We couldn't get excited about last week. Can't get excited or too overwhelmed about this week. But LSU is no bigger than this one, or bigger than last week's victory. Be patient."

That should be easy for this bunch of Razorbacks. They seem to be loaded with patience.

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