Norwood Tough Task For UA Defense

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' defense has shut down the run the past three games, but will have its hands full Saturday against Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood.

The 6-foot, 202-pound senior tailback needs 73 yards to reach the 3,000-yard plateau for his career. Norwood, who has 12 career 110-yard games and is MSU's all-time leading rusher, is fifth in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 93.5 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry.

"Norwood, point blank, is a first-round ability running back," said Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "He can cut on a dime. He runs with great spirit. He's as fast as you need to be. He's got to be at least 4.3 (seconds in the 40-yard dash), but he plays 4.4."

The Razorbacks have surrendered a combined 107 yards rushing in games against Ole Miss, South Carolina and Georgia. That's 35.7 yards per game (Alabama tops the SEC by allowing 89 yards rushing per game) and an even more impressive 1.1 yards per carry.

Norwood's the top tailback the Hogs have faced since allowing the SEC's leading rusher, Auburn's Kenny Irons, to gain 182 yards on 33 carries in a 34-17 Arkansas loss on Oct. 15.

"When you watch (Norwood) run, he has the greatest one- and two-yard runs you've ever seen," Herring said. "There might not be any blocking there and you're just shaking your head at some of the cuts he makes just to get two yards.

"I have a lot of respect for that kid and he's going to be the key if we can contain him. It's going to be a critical aspect of the game. He's a tremendous talent."

Norwood rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in a 24-21 loss against Arkansas last season. However, he has been stopped by solid defenses. Four times this season (against Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Georgia), Norwood was held to 43 yards or less.

"It's a lot better run team than we've faced the last couple of weeks," Herring said. "We've just got to match their physicalness up front. It will be a tremendous test for our defensive club."

Felton Vs. Evans
Arkansas right tackle Robert Felton will go heads up with one of the top defensive ends in the league Saturday in MSU senior Willie Evans.

"He's (getting) sacks every time you turn on the film, I don't care who it is," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "Whether it's Auburn or Georgia or LSU, he's always in the backfield and so we've got to do a good job. There will be a lot of times where we try to keep four hands (two blockers) on him."

Evans, one of six finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award, tops the SEC in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (15.5). He's second among defensive linemen with an average of 5.2 tackles per game.

"I played against him last year, so I kind of know what to expect," Felton said. "In the SEC, we've seen good defensive ends pretty much every time out and I don't expect anything less from him."

Moving Inside
A cold front moving through the area forced Arkansas to move Tuesday's practice inside the Walker Pavilion.

It also doesn't hurt that the indoor field is covered with AstroPlay, the same surface they'll play on Saturday in War Memorial. It will be the second straight game the Hogs have played on an artificial turf.

Mississippi State has posted a 21-36 record on artificial turf, which includes four forfeited wins from 1975-77. It has only played once this season on AstroPlay when it beat Tulane 21-14 in Shreveport, La., on Sept. 17. Prior to this season, the Bulldogs hadn't played on artificial turf since 2003 when they lost 31-28 against Tulane in New Orleans, La.

'Crunk' In The Rock
Arkansas is tough in War Memorial Stadium. Since Nutt took over in 1998, the Hogs are 18-1 in Little Rock.

"It's the fans," said Hogs defensive tackle Keith Jackson, a Little Rock native. "They come out every game down there and they're wild. They really get it crunk and we feed off that."

The Razorbacks won their first 17 games in Little Rock under Nutt before losing 43-14 against LSU in last season's finale. They're 155-62-3 all-time in Little Rock and 136-51-2 in War Memorial Stadium.

Injury Report
The Hogs have several banged up on the offensive line. Left tackle Tony Ugoh (ankle) and left guard Stephen Parker (ankle) had partial practices Tuesday. Center Kyle Roper (knee) continues to rest and likely won't return until Thursday.

Defensive end Zach Snider returned to practice after being sidelined by a knee injury.

Rally Caps
Saturday's 28-17 win against Ole Miss was only the sixth time in Nutt's tenure that the Hogs have overcome fourth-quarter deficits to win. All have been memorable games.

In 2003, they trailed 31-17 before rallying to beat Alabama 34-31 in double overtime. They came back from 10 points down to beat LSU 21-20 in 2002 and from seven points down to beat Kentucky 27-20 in 1998. They rallied from three points down to beat Tennessee 24-21 in 1999 and UNLV 10-7 in 2001.

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