Arkansas Scouting Report
The University of Arkansas was founded in 1871 and first played football on October 13, 1894. They won their first two games, 42-0 and 38-0, that season over Fort Smith, Arkansas, High School before heading down into Texas to challenge the Longhorns. Texas routed the Cardinals 54-0. Arkansas' nickname was Cardinals until 1910, when the nickname Razorbacks was introduced. Their colors remain cardinal red and white, their famous battle cry is distinct anywhere it's heard, "whoo pig sooie."
Arkansas became an inaugural member of the Southwest Conference in 1915, winning 13 SWC Championships before making the move into the Southeastern Conference in 1992. Since joining the SEC, Arkansas has won or tied for the SEC West Championship three times, going to Atlanta twice for the championship game in 1995 and 2002, losing both times. The Hogs have won 626 games, lost 422 and tied 40 over 102 seasons.
The Razorbacks have won one national championship in football, that was in 1964. The Hogs went 11-0 under current athletics director, Frank Broyles. Broyles in 19 years as head coach won 144 games, lost 58 and tied five. Six of Broyles' 58 losses were to legendary Ole Miss coach, Johnny Vaught. Broyles never defeated Vaught, so he stopped playing Ole Miss after the 1961 season. He later lost twice more to Vaught in the 1963 and 1970 Sugar Bowl games.
Arkansas has had 40 All-Americans in football, most notable are pro football Hall of Fame players, Lance Alworth and Dan Hampton. Alworth, a Brookhaven native, originally signed with Ole Miss in 1958, but transferred to Arkansas when he married his high school sweetheart.
The Ole Miss-Arkansas series dates back to 1908, the Cardinals won that first game in Fayetteville 33-0. Arkansas claims a 27-23-1 lead in the series while Ole Miss claims it is 26-24-1. The disputed game occurred in 1914, won by Ole Miss 13-7 at Little Rock. Arkansas says the game was forfeited due to an ineligible player. Ole Miss leads the series played in Oxford 5-1, the loss being the famous seven-overtime game won by Arkansas 58-56 in 2001. When playing Arkansas east of the Mississippi river, the Rebels are 19-10 versus the Hogs. This includes games played in Oxford, Jackson, Memphis and the Sugar Bowl.
The Hogs enter this week's game with a 2-6 record, the worst start to a season in Houston Nutt's eight-year career at Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 0-5 in SEC play, opening the season with a win at home over Missouri State 49-17, then losing to Vanderbilt 28-24. The Hogs ventured out to Southern California and got blown out 70-17. They went on the road again to Alabama and lost 24-13, won a home game over Louisiana Monroe 44-15 but lost at home to Auburn 34-17. Arkansas traveled over to Georgia and lost a close one 23-20. Last week South Carolina became bowl eligible by beating the Hogs at home 14-10.
Houston Nutt is in his eighth year as the Hogs head coach, winning 55 games and losing 39. Nutt has an overall head coaching record of 91-61, including four years at Murray State and one year at Boise State before taking over at Arkansas. Nutt played quarterback one year at Arkansas under Broyles and one year under Lou Holtz before transferring and playing two years for Jimmy Johnson at Oklahoma State in 1979 and 1980.
Statistically, Ole Miss and Arkansas are evenly matched. The advantage the Hogs have in this game is running the football. The Razorbacks are ranked fifth nationally rushing the football, averaging 251.9 yards per game on the ground.
Offensively, Arkansas is a 2-back set team. They like to pull offensive linemen and trap block to spring their outstanding running backs into the secondary of the defense. Houston Nutt serves as his own offensive coordinator, so he will match wits head-to-head with Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron. Mike Markuson is the Hogs' running game coordinator and coaches their offensive line. Arkansas will likely start one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. The Hogs offensive line averages 307 pounds per man, their run/pass ratio is 3.5 runs for every 2 passes. Key Arkansas offensive players include:
- QB # 11 Casey Dick, Fr. 6-2, 200 - 12-24-137yards, 50.0%, 1 td, 1 int, making his second start; - QB # 18 Robert Johnson, So., 6-2, 212 - 88-156-783yards, 5td, 6 int, starter prior to last week; - RB # 5 Darren McFadden, Fr. 6-2, 210 - 85 rushes - 586yards, 6.9 average, # 1 in SEC at 117yards/game; - RB # 25 Felix Jones, Fr. 6-0,195 - 61rushes - 434yards, 7.1 average; - RB # 26 De'Arrius Howard, Sr., 6-0, 236 - 5.9 average per rush; - FB # 22 Peyton Hillis, So., 6-2, 240 - 28 receptions - 259 yards, 9.3 average; and, - SE # 85 Marcus Monk, So., 6'6, 227 - 23 receptions - 286 yards, 12.4 average per catch.
Defensively, Arkansas is a 4-3-4 team. The Hogs defensive coordinator is no stranger to Ole Miss, Reggie Herring. Herring agreed to coach the Ole Miss defense in 2002, but left to join the new NFL franchise, Houston Texans. Herring coaches the linebackers and loves to blitz. Coach Orgeron says Arkansas will blitz almost every play. This puts added pressure on first-time starting quarterback, Ethan Flatt, to recognize where the blitz is coming from. Herring is a 1981 graduate of Florida State and coached last year with Noel Mazzone at North Carolina State where his defense led the nation in total defense, allowing just 221.36 yards per game. Arkansas will likely start two seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. Arkansas has 20 sacks and seven interceptions on the season, their defensive line averages 269, linebackers average 223 and defensive backs average 190 pounds per man. They depend on speed and quickness to be successful. Key Arkansas defensive players include:
- WLB # 24 Sam Olajubutu, Jr., 5-9, 227 - 58 solo + 39 assist = 97 total tackles; - DE # 23 Desmond Sims, Jr., 6-3, 228 - 5 sacks, 50 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss on the season; - LC # 19 Michael Coe, Jr., 6-1, 186 - 3 interceptions, 7 break-ups, 29 tackles; - FS # 31 Vickeil Vaughn, Sr., 6-0, 204 - 41 solo + 19 assist = 60 total tackles; and, - SLB # 27 Pierre Brown, Sr. 6-0, 227 - 22 solo + 32 assist = 54 total tackles.
Arkansas special team players will include:
Punter - # 14 Jacob Skinner, Jr. - 35 punt, averaging 41.5 yards per punt; Punt Returns - # 22 Peyton Hillis, So. - 11 returns for a 9.8 average; Place Kicker - # 55 Chris Balseiro, Sr. - 9-12 FG, 22-23 PAT's; and, Kickoff Returns - # 25 Felix Jones, Fr. - 14 returns for a 29.0 average per return.
THOUGHTS: This is now the Rebels biggest game of the season if they want to keep bowl hopes alive. The Rebels must protect the quarterback so he can throw the ball deep where the Hogs are vulnerable. The Rebel defense must find a way to slow down freshman runners Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Ole Miss linebackers must play well and tackle well. Good special teams play by Will Moseley and Rob Park can to pin the Hogs offense deep and force long drives.
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