Gators Smother Razorbacks Running Game

ATLANTA -- He ran his hand through his hair and sighed.

Florida had just suffocated the Hogs' running game, holding the Hogs to 132 yards rushing on 35 carries in the Georgia Dome. And, faced with a question about a sluggish rushing attack, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt just couldn't find the explanation, couldn't single out the pitfall. "It wasn't any one thing, one particular defense," Nutt said. "They crowded the line of scrimmage, but everybody has crowded us all year long. "They just did a great job of really getting off blocks." Arkansas had supplied plenty of offense by the end of its 38-28 defeat to Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. But the Razorbacks needed more against the Gators and their slow start stemmed from an unproductive ground attack. Darren McFadden finished with 73 yards on 21 carries, his fourth-lowest output of the season. Felix Jones ended up with 57 yards on 13 carries, 31 of them coming on a fourth-quarter scamper with Florida lined up in a prevent defense. Arkansas hadn't rushed for fewer yards since gaining 130 on 27 carries in a 50-14 loss to USC on Sept. 2. The Razorbacks' per-carry average of 3.8 against Florida marked their second-lowest of the season. "We knew coming into the game that they were a good team," McFadden said. "They've got one of the toughest defenses in the country this year. We came out there and ran the ball. We just didn't get the big runs we wanted." Not at all. Other than Jones' late-game rush, Arkansas posted just three carries of 10 or more yards. "To hold a Heisman Trophy candidate to 73 yards. That's not an accident," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "Our (defensive) guys did a great job of doing what we were telling them." To make matters worse for Arkansas, McFadden was playing injured for the last 42 minutes of the game. Early in the second quarter, Casey Dick slung a quick pass to McFadden, who had lined up as a wide receiver. He gained eight yards, but the Florida defender who brought him down landed awkwardly on McFadden's ankle. The minor, yet nagging injury limited McFadden. Nutt wishes his sophomore standout could've done without the tweak. "I wasn't going to use it as an excuse, but y'all know Darren McFadden wasn't the same from the (second) quarter on," Nutt said.

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