Chris' Challenge

The Rebel secondary showed major improvement, and an attitude, in the loss to Alabama, but can they sustain it against Arkansas this Saturday when the Hogs unleash the number one passing attack in the SEC on the visitors from across the big river? Read what cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn says about the challenge inside.

Arkansas, fueled by quarterback Ryan Mallett and a bevy of quality receivers, is number one in the SEC in passing offense, averaging and eye-popping 366.3 yards per game through the air.

That's also second in the NCAA, by the way.

For good measure, they rush for another 113.7 yards a contest, making their total offense number an equally impressive 480.0 yards per outing, which is second in the league and 10th in the country.

That's some pretty daunting numbers, figures that have the Rebels rightfully concerned, but eager for the looming challenge.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss is coming off, arguably, their best defensive performance of the year, despite falling to Alabama 23-10.

While that's an upswing and a major step forward, all involved know the Hogs are vastly different from the Red Elephants in the way they attack defenses.

The Tide tries to wash right through the opposition; the Hogs try to go up top, and have done so successfully thus far.

"We are always looking for perfection, but I was proud of what the guys did against Alabama. Certainly it's always a work in progress, but we made strides," said cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn. "Alabama attacked us deep a couple of times and we answered the call.

Chris Vaughn

"We will get a lot more of that this week (chuckles) against Arkansas, so we will have to ring the bell more often. We are getting ready for a prolific offense that likes to throw it downfield and has the personnel to do so. We definitely have our work cut out for us in the secondary. It will be our biggest challenge to date."

The Rebels defensive backs have had a more physical look in recent games and Vaughn says more of that will be required to control the Razorbacks.

"The guys are starting to buy into being more physical. We've been stressing it all along, but it's finally coming around some now," he explained. "I think our guys are playing faster and are more sure of themselves and that has brought out a more physical style of play."

Vaughn says Hog head coach Bobby Petrino likes to play the odds.

"It's kind of a percentage thing with them. They think if they throw it up enough, they will make enough plays to win," he said. "They have some playmakers. We have a great respect for their scheme, their coaches, their receivers and their quarterbacks, which is plural with Mallett and Wilson.

"We have to go play our game, be aware, be prepared and play with a high level of concentration and intensity."

Vaughn said he can see why the Hogs are near the top in all statistical categories in the passing game.

"Coach Petrino really understands the passing game and does a great job of teaching it to his players," Vaughn said. "He's well-respected, not just in our conference but throughout the nation as a guru of the passing game.

"We have a great deal of respect for him and what he does with his offenses. This is going to be a tremendous challenge."

As is usually the case, Vaughn feels the outcome will come down to who executes the best.

"We'll have a great plan, I'm sure of that. So will they. It will come down to who executes the best," he ended. "We have to make sure it's us."

The Rebels secondary has been banged up this year at times, but now they are full strength.

SS Johnny Brown (hamstring/knee), CB Jeremy McGee (concussion), FS Fon Ingram (knee), CB Charles Sawyer (concussion), S Brishen Mathews (concussion) and CB Marcus Temple (concussion) have all missed time, but are now back in the fold and apparently are healthy for this contest.

"We are full speed ahead now and that's comforting knowing what we will be facing," Vaughn closed.

Can the Rebs weather the aerial storm they are about to face from Arkansas?

The answer to that will go a long way in determining the winner of the game.


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