Arkansas Defense Dominates Mississippi State

LITTLE ROCK -- Take away three plays and Arkansas' defense would have had a historic performance in Saturday's 44-10 win against Mississippi State.

Instead, the Razorbacks had to settle for a pretty good one.

Arkansas held the Bulldogs to 183 yards with 141 coming on three plays -- two rushing and one passing. Consider that 110 of MSU's 106 net rushing yards (it had 66 yards for loss) came on two plays.

It didn't take long for Arkansas' defense to dominate Mississippi State.

Four of the Bulldogs' first five drives ended with Mississippi State going three and out. The other was stopped after just two plays when quarterback Michael Henig fumbled.

By the time the Bulldogs finally managed a first down late in the second quarter on Jerious Norwood's 53-yard run to the Arkansas 27, the Razorbacks were already up 27-0.

After Norwood's long run set up a Mississippi State field goal to end the threat of a Razorbacks' shutout, several Arkansas defenders walked off the field with their heads down. Several more were shaking their heads.

"At some point in time around here, it's got to be a way of life defensively. ... At some point in time for us to get to the next level, we've got to be stingy on defense," said Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said. "We've got to take pride in not letting anybody ever score, regardless of who's in the game -- first, second team -- and that's where we've got to get defensively.

"There's no doubt that we were trying to get a shutout (Saturday)."

Little Rock native Jamaal Anderson, who took over for Anthony Brown at defensive end when Brown went down with an ankle injury in Arkansas' Oct. 15 loss to Auburn, quickly made his presence felt.

With Mississippi State facing third-and-19 on its first drive, Anderson hurried Henig, forcing an incomplete pass. On the next drive, Anderson tackled Bulldogs' Brandon Thornton after just one yard.

Anderson had six tackles, two for loss, and a forced fumble.

"It's going to be tough to get him out of the lineup when (Brown) comes back," Herring said. "Once again, though, we're going to have to put our best 11 on the field and I think it's going to work out when all things are said and done.

"We'll find a way to get him out there."

The Razorbacks recorded seven sacks, their most since they had eight against Boise State in 2002. The pressure from blitzes and stunting linemen confused Henig.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened," Henig said. "There was a lot of pressure. I don't know where it was coming from."

Mississippi State turned the ball over three times.

"There's no secrets to turnovers," Herring said. "You get turnovers by being aggressive on defense and the offense being sloppy with the ball ... We just had the upper hand (Saturday). We were a lot more aggressive than they were. We controlled the line of scrimmage, which is what we wanted to do.

"We wanted to get them in third and long ... That was the tell-tale toll of the game. We were able to lay our ears back and get after them."

The Bulldogs were only 1 of 13 on third-down conversions.

Despite success over the past few weeks, Friday's game at LSU will be an important barometer to determine just how much the Razorbacks' defense has improved.

"They've come a long way; they're progressing nicely," Herring said. "But LSU lies in the way and that will be a tremendous measuring stick for this defense as far as how far we've come from the Southern Cal game until now.

"This is the game for us ... This will be the true test of how far we've come."


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