UA's Offensive Line Brings Attitude, Results

FAYETTEVILLE -- Apparently, it's all about attitude when it comes to blocking for Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

The only problem: The Razorbacks have a bunch of nice guys on their offensive line.

Right guard Robert Felton is a big clown who's more likely to break out in song than get in a teammate's face. Center Jonathan Luigs is polite and soft-spoken. And the rest of Arkansas' offensive linemen aren't much different.

But their low-key personalities are misleading. As they showed in last Saturday's 48-36 win over South Carolina, they can be intimidating when the time comes.

"You've got to have an attitude to be able to run the ball and only pass the ball -- what? -- one time in the second half," Felton said, smiling.

"It's all about attitude, it's all about fundamentals. If you have attitude and fundamentals, good things will happen. And as you saw on Saturday, good things did happen."

The Razorbacks dominated the line of scrimmage in a way that was impressive even by Arkansas' standards.

The offensive linemen held their blocks, shoved South Carolina defenders to the side and opened up holes for McFadden and Jones to run through.

Arkansas' running game was so effective that coach Houston Nutt decided to abandon the passing game in the second half. And the Gamecocks couldn't do anything to stop it, even when they knew what was coming.

As a result, McFadden tied the Southeastern Conference's single-game rushing record with 321 yards, Jones added a career-high 166 yards and the Razorbacks finished with 542 yards on the ground.

"It was just one of those nights where everything was clicking, no rhyme or reason for anything," Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Markuson said. "It was just happening. When you have an offensive output like that, hey, everybody is doing their job."

But it might be tough for the Hogs to have a similar performance against No. 22 Tennessee (6-3, 3-2 SEC) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Volunteers rank ninth in the SEC in rushing defense, giving up 167.7 yards per game. But they've been paying more attention to Arkansas' blockers after what they did last Saturday.

"Those guys have been doing an excellent job the last couple of games, opening the holes for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones," Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo said. "Those guys are great backs, and the hole doesn't have to be that big for those guys to break one for 80 (yards)."

Arkansas offensive guard Mitch Petrus was named Monday as the SEC's offensive lineman of the week for his performance against South Carolina.

Meanwhile, Nutt said offensive tackle Nate Garner had perhaps his best game of his career against South Carolina, grading out at 97 percent.

Coincidentally, the big night came only a few weeks after Markuson got on his linemen for not holding their blocks or being as physical as they needed to be.

"(He) said, 'If all you want to do is watch Darren McFadden and Felix Jones run, you should go buy a ticket and buy some popcorn,'" Nutt said.

But the offensive line got the job done against South Carolina.

Their performance was reminiscent of last year's 27-10 upset at then-No. 2 Auburn. In the game, Arkansas' blockers allowed McFadden and Jones to run at will, even when the Tigers knew what was coming.

"That (South Carolina win) almost reminded me of every game we play because there's no secrets. Everybody knows we're going to run the ball," Felton said.

"My thing is: Stop it. If you know we're going to run it, stop it. And it seems like nobody can stop it."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories