Who knows what Ole Miss calls themselves today because it’ll be something different tomorrow.
Last week the Razorbacks took on the Portland State Vikings. Just as Coach Morris said in the post-game press conference, “a win is a win”; however, that is definitely not what the Razorback faithful wanted to hear from Coach Morris or see from the team on Saturday. Everyone wanted a high-powered, high scoring, run-and-gun offense. We saw very few glimpses of it. The offense was not what anyone thought it would be. Our prediction of 49-17 was way off, considering the real final score of 20-1. Enough of the negatives because there were some very good moments during this first game. As Coach Morris said, we have young players with a new offense. We need more leadership from our QB, whomever that may be.
Oxford, MS is a beautiful place to visit, especially to take in some SEC football. The atmosphere can be very loud and the fans love their Rebels…black bears…whatever they are. Therefore, we should expect them to be loud and proud, regardless of their week one loss to Memphis. The Grove is a fun place, even if you are a visiting fan base there to watch you team win. Good people, great atmosphere, and a beautiful stadium. While is a beautiful place, come Saturday night, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford will be a war zone for both team’s first SEC game, and a true road test for our 2019 Arkansas Razorbacks. Regardless of what happened last week with either team this is necessary win for both teams, so our A game better be out or it is going to be a long season for the losing team Saturday evening.
Ben Hicks will start his first true SEC road game as a Razorback starting QB. Last week there were good signs and bad signs. We completed a mere 14 of 29 passing attempts for a pedestrian 143 yards. Not all of this is on the QB though as there were some dropped passes. I am sure these issues have been addressed this week in practice.
Arkansas did move the ball in the first actual game played this year, and our QBs did not spend any time on their backs, which is already an improvement from last year; however, we want to see what they can do against an SEC team. This week we need to have the ability to move the ball a little more down the field. As hog fans, we can hope Coach Morris will open up his playbook with his team and show something Ole Miss is not ready for.
Our running game did not look too bad, which is a good sign for the offensive line too. We have the running game going with Boyd getting over 100 yards to start the season. The rest of our running backs got good reps in. With Hayden and Whaley getting nine carries apiece, it looks like Boyd is going to be our workhorse this year, being the only running back to get double digit carries.
We have to establish the running game early against the Rebels and keep their defense guessing, while playing Coach Morris’ game and not falling into a one-dimensional offense. As long as we play our game and keep the mistake to a minimum, it should go the way we all want it to go. We have to make sure and continue and keep the pressure on the Rebel defense this weekend. They shot themselves in the foot many times last week with penalties and we can expect that to be addressed this week in practice.
Dorian Gerald, who is out for the season with a strained artery in his neck, was feasting off Portland State and looked like an SEC type defensive end. We were really looking forward to watching him cause havoc against offenses this year, but his health is more important. Get well soon, we will see you in some backfields next year!
With Gerald out, we need to see Sosa Agim step up even more this week, make his presence known in the middle of that line, and make sure Ole Miss cannot get in any offensive rhythm. They have a dual threat QB, Corral, but he could only muster 93 yards passing against Memphis. Just a total of 173 yards from the offense as a whole. Most of his damage was from his ability to keep plays alive by running around or taking off downfield. As a team, the Rebels only had 80 yards rushing last week, so expect them to come out, not get one-dimensional themselves, and try to establish that run game. This is where Agim and Pool should come into play with a bigger week than last week.
Have faith in the Chavis defense, the man knows his stuff. A shout out to Kam Curl for facing adversity with the initial penalty of targeting and coming back later with a big interception and run back to put the offense in a good position. The secondary, although young and against a FCS opponent, looked much different from in years past, and that is a good thing. We played more bump and run coverage and plenty of blitzes to put pressure on the mobile QB from PSU. Since Ole Miss has a redshirt QB starting his first true SEC game, we need to keep the defense active, changing up the schemes as much as we can, and keep pressure in his face from our linebackers and defensive line. We will need another big defensive game played with more players making plays and showing why Morris recruited them to come to the Hill and be a part of this change.
A hard fought game and back and forth scoring, Arkansas will complete our first SEC victory under Chad Morris, on the Road, in Oxford. Putting all of the Razorbacks haters to rest and a big SEC win for the program. Paying them back for the embarrassing loss in LR last year.
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports
Co-Host of Thursday night live show “The Sports Junkies” along side Steve Hinson