Challenge

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace and CB/S Mike Hilton aren't looking at Arkansas' 5-5 overall and 1-5 SEC record. They are watching film of the Hogs and understand fully what they are facing Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Fayetteville.

In the last two SEC outings, losses to LSU and Auburn, the Rebel defense has given up 250+ yards rushing.

Saturday, they face an Arkansas team that goes 326, 350, 315, 337 and 314 across their offensive front and two running backs - Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams - who each have over 800 yards rushing on the year through 10 games.

The Hogs are averaging 34 points a game mostly because they rush for an average of 232 yards per outing and then play-action off of that for another 200 yards per outing.

But Rebel CB/S Mike Hilton feels the Rebels will be up to the task.

"We just have to play sound alignment and assignment football," said Hilton. "Arkansas is known for ball control and running it downhill with 22 and 23 personnel packages. For us, it will be all about alignment and assignment. I think we can do it."

Hilton does not believe the last two SEC showings are indicative of what the Rebel defense is capable of against a team that likes to run the football.

"We watched the films. We were overrunning gaps, missing tackles. If we can fix that, we can take control, but it's not just the front seven, it was us on the back end," he explained. "All 11 of us have to do our jobs and do them correctly. Like I said, alignment and assignment."

Hilton said there is a danger of getting "sucked in" to the Hog run attack and then getting hit over the top with the play action pass.

"They run, run, run and then they play action. If you put too much emphasis on stopping the run, they have shown they can beat you over the top. Their play action package is real good," he closed. "They give you a lot of eye candy with different formations and movement. They get your eyes going in the wrong direction if you are not careful and then they hit you over the top.

"As DBs, we have to be aggressive with our run support, but disciplined in reading our keys and recognizing play action pass. They have a different run scheme than LSU, but their play action stuff presents the same challenges."

For Wallace, the open week was a gift from the football gods.

"We needed the rest and to get healthy. I think we got that done," said Bo. "These next two games have become the most important of our season. Everything we needed to happen did happen and we were excited about that, but it won't mean much if we don't take care of what we have to do."

Wallace has a lot of respect for the Arkansas defense, a group that has had a couple of games where they have taken some lumps, but also a group that held Alabama to 14 points, Mississippi State to 17 points and, just last Saturday, shut out LSU.

"Like all SEC teams, they are good up front. They can create a lot of havoc. Our O-Line has to be ready and I have to know where my check downs are so I can get the ball out of my hands quickly," Bo added.

Wallace has faith in the Rebel defense, but he knows there is also a need for the offense to score points early and often.

"We trust our defense to get us the ball like they have all year, but if you watch Arkansas games, you know their game is to control the ball, so when we get our shots on offense, we have to take advantage of our opportunities and put points up," he explained. "We saw what they did to the LSU offense and that kept their crowd in the game and allowed their offense to do what they like to do - control the ball. We have to take them out of their game by scoring points."

Life without Laquon Treadwell makes Wallace's job tougher - the go-to guy is gone for the year, but he feels comfortable in the receivers he has to work with moving forward.

"I look for Evan (Engram) to have an expanded role at times. He has the same type of body as Laquon and is super athletic. I also think Quincy (Adeboyejo) will be an important cog to go along with Vince (Sanders) and Cody (Core)," he noted. "I also like the way freshman Markell Pack is coming around. Losing Laquon is a huge deal, but we have options. I am confident in our receiving corps. I think our focus will be good."

The forecast for Saturday is 80% chance of rain. What is Wallace's history in the rain?

"I haven't played in the rain much, but I am sure I will practice with wet footballs and in gloves this week to get used to it if it does rain," he allowed. "I'll be prepared."

The bottom line from two Rebel stars?

Don't look at Arkansas' record.

They proved against LSU they a) are improving and b) have the talent to play with anyone.


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