Hogs Looking To Rediscover Pass Rush

FAYETTEVILLE — When the time came for Georgia's football staff to do the laundry following last week's win over Arkansas, it's unlikely that much detergent was needed to get Joe Cox's uniform clean.

The quarterback's white jersey looked rather spotless even after a 52-41 win in Reynolds Razorback Stadium that last nearly four hours.

Arkansas defensive linemen didn't have many opportunities to get their hands on the senior, and the lack of a pass rush allowed Cox to stand in the pocket and complete 18 of 26 passes for 375 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.

"I got to the quarterback one time," Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard. "I would have loved to have gotten to him more."

Sheppard recorded the Razorbacks' only sack last Saturday when he dropped Cox for a 9-yard loss with 20 seconds remaining in the first half. And despite facing a Georgia offensive line that had given up four sacks in its previous two games, Arkansas managed just one quarterback hurry.

As a result, the Hogs (1-1, 0-1 SEC) head into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game at third-ranked Alabama (3-0) looking to redeem themselves when they face another new starting quarterback in junior Greg McElroy.

"We just need to keep coming," said Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette, who's looking for his first sack this season. "With pass rush, you're not going to get a sack every time. But once you continually get pressure, those things start happening."

Arkansas' inability to apply pressure on Cox was somewhat surprising, considering the defensive line had shown in a 48-10 rout of Missouri State that it can wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.

Sheppard teamed with fellow defensive tackle Zach Stadther to sack MSU quarterback Cody Kirby on the first play from scrimmage. And by the time the game ended, five Arkansas defensive players were credited with three sacks total.

But Sheppard said McElroy poses a challenge for the Razorbacks because, despite his inexperience, he has a knack for avoiding sacks by getting rid of the ball in a hurry.

"We run with different blitzes, and we have to follow our assignments," Sheppard said. "But it's just going to take more effort, more watching film and just learning what (Alabama's) offensive linemen do and how to counter it and get back to the quarterback."

A solid pass rush would help take some pressure off Arkansas' inexperienced secondary, which had its own struggles against Georgia.

Alabama's offensive line, meanwhile, has continued to overpower teams despite losing Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith and All-American center Antoine Caldwell from last season.

The Crimson Tide have surrendered only three sacks this season, including none in last Saturday's 53-7 rout of North Texas. And Alabama coach Nick Saban has relied on his athletic offensive line to clear the way for one of the nation's top running attacks.

"I think this offensive line that Alabama has is very talented, very strong, very big," Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "They're athletic as heck, and they do a great job of getting hats on hats."

Said Arkansas defensive end Adrian Davis: "We got to stop the run first, then probably lead up to the pass. But you just got to play hard."



Arkansas' Sack Leaders This Season

Name Position Sacks

Malcolm Sheppard Defensive tackle 1 1/2

Freddy Burton Linebacker 1

Lavunce Askew Defensive tackle 1/2

Jerico Nelson Linebacker 1/2

Zach Stadther Defensive tackle 1/2

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