Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas Football’

Huge Weekend for Hog Fans

 

Sure, Arkansas’ chances of winning either an SEC or national title are now nothing more than a fading memory. And heck, the Razorbacks aren’t even playing a game in front of their fans on Saturday. Still, this weekend should be of the absolute, utmost importance to Hog fans.

Here’s why

The Razorbacks are still very much in play for their first-ever BCS bowl appearance. That may be hard to believe for some, but it is an absolute fact. Here is the simple scenario that would result in the Hogs recieving their first BCS bid in the infamous system’s 13-year reign over the college football landscape:

  1. Alabama loses this Saturday night in Baton Rouge
  2. Arkansas beats #19 South Carolina and #20 Mississippi State on the road, and #10 LSU in Little Rock over the next 4 weeks*
  3. Auburn beats Alabama the day after Thanksgiving
  4. Auburn beats South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game

Arkansas must win the battle for "The Golden Boot"

It’s honestly that simple, and relatively foreseeable. The above scenario results in Arkansas ending the season with a 10-2 record, good for 2nd place in the SEC West (and, really, the 2nd best record in the whole conference). With Auburn’s then-certain inclusion in the BCS National Championship game, the BCS will, without a doubt, extend an at-large bid to another SEC team. Here’s the group they will be looking at:

  • *Arkansas 10-2 (6-2)
  • *LSU 10-2 (6-2)
  • *Alabama 9-3 (5-3)
  • *South Carolina 9-4 (5-3)

South Carolina, like so many SEC Championship Game losers of the past would be overlooked, and given that Arkansas would have beaten LSU head-to-head in the last game of the season, Arkansas would get the nod over the Tigers. It should also not be overlooked that the BCS brain-trust is smart, and knows that the rabid Razorback fan base would show up in droves for the Hogs’ first ever BCS appearance – especially if they were to get placed in the Sugar Bowl.

So there you have it. While there are several moving parts to this scenario, would any of them, individually, really even cause you to raise both eyebrows? Not me. The two biggest hurdles need to be cleared this weekend, and if they are, this scenario almost begins to look more likely than not.

So, as always, Woo Pig Sooiieee!

And for just a single, painful but necessary weekend…Geaux Tigers!

The Breakdown: Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt

When Arkansas Runs

The Razorbacks still only have the 89th rushing offense in the nation, but based on their improvement in that area over the last three games, that ranking is really not representative of the way Kniles Davis and company are running the ball today. Over the last two weeks, the Hogs have averaged 7.3 yards per carry against the then 23rd ranked Mississippi run defense, 4.9 yards against the then #15 run defense of Auburn. This weekend, facing Vanderbilt’s 92nd ranked rushing defense should mean that the surging Razorback running game should continue its recent breakout. Look for Davis to go over 100 yards for the second straight week in this one.
EDGE: Arkansas

When Arkansas Throws

This is where the Hogs always cash in, and this week will be no different. Arkansas still ranks 2nd nationally, throwing for 352 yards per game this season, and the Commodores have been no more than average against opposing passers, allowing a 58th best 211 yards passing per game so far. Over the past two weeks Vandy has faced Georgia’s #31 passing offense and Georgia’s #55 aerial attack. In those games, the Commodores have allowed nearly 100 yards more than their opponents season average, 355 yards and 315 yards, respectively. The Razorbacks, even with Childs and Adams potentially sidelined with injury, should have no problem putting up their average at home against Vanderbilt.
EDGE: Arkansas

When Vanderbilt Runs

The Commodores running game ranks a decent 68th nationally, totaling 146 yards per game on the ground so far this season. To date, the Razorbacks have allowed 170 yards rushing per game to their opponents, good for 86th nationally. However, the Hogs just faced Ole Miss’ #20 rushing attack and held it to about 30 yards less than its average rushing yards per game, and a half yard less than its normal average yards per carry. Starting DT Dequinta Jones will likely be suspended for the game, but the Razorbacks should still at least be able to neutralize the strength of the Vandy offense here.
EDGE: Draw

When Vanderbilt Throws

Vanderbilt’s passing offense is putrid, ranking 105th nationally, out of 120 teams. There’s no reason at all to doubt that the #26 Arkansas pass defense will be able to completely hold the Commodores in check through the air. Vandy averages just 160 yards passing per game, and I would be surprised if Arkansas allows even 150.
EDGE: Arkansas

Intangibles

Well, most important of all is the home field advantage that the Razorbacks will own in this game. Additionally, Vandy has lost three of four by at least 14 (but by 43 to a Georgia team the Hogs beat), with the lone win coming against an Eastern Michigan team that is winless since he beginning of last season. The Hogs may be without their two best receivers and one of their best defensive linemen, but depth at those positions should allow the Hogs to -for the most part – conduct their business as usual.
EDGE: Arkansas

Razorbacks

Prediction

Vanderbilt really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in this game. The Hogs are the better team on offense and defense, and the game is in Fayetteville. The Commodores may be able to find a reasonable amount of success on offense running the ball, but their futile passing attack should make them far too one dimensional to really threaten the Hogs. Even without Childs, Adams, and Jones the Hogs will win comfortably, but if the receivers are able to play feel free to add an additional 10 points for the Hogs.
Arkansas 35 – 17

– Warzecha –

Welcome to Fayetteville: Kelvin Fisher

Welcome to Fayetteville: Kelvin Fisher

Kelvin Fisher

Arkansas may have snagged a really good one in Kelvin Fisher, but it’s likely that Bobby Petrino himself is still unsure exactly what he’ll be good at once he arrives in Fayetteville. The Gilbert, Arizona product is categorized by most as an “athlete,” by some as a safety, and by others as a running back. The one consensus is that he is a hell of a football player. Fisher chose the Hogs on Saturday over Oregon and Boise State, and also held offers from Arizona State, Washington, Pittsburgh, and others. His decision was somewhat surprising as well, given that just last week he had suggested that he wouldn’t make a verbal commitment until after his team’s season was over. Whatever though — we’ll take him.

National Rankings

Scout4*, #16 S
Rivals 3*, #38 ATH
ESPN3*, #30 RB

Stats

Fisher is listed at 5′ 11″ and 180 pounds with a 4.5 forty. After just six games this season, Fisher has racked up 973 yards and 16 touchdowns in the offensive backfield, as well as 43 tackles, two INTs and two passes defended in the defensive backfield. As a Junior, he carried the ball 113 times for 819 yards and 12 touchdowns on offense, and tallied 79 tackles to go along with 2 picks and 4 pass break-ups. He was named All-State in Arizona and All-Region.

Impact on the Class of 2011

It’s hard to tell since he could easily end up on either side of the ball in an Arkansas uniform. After watching his film though, he really looks like a special player at tailback, exhibiting Joe-Adams-like quick twitch ability to make defenders miss and very good acceleration, despite possibly lacking truly elite straight-line speed. It was more difficult to get a real read on his defensive film, but if he is seriously anywhere near the 16th best safety in high school football nationwide like Scout.com ranks him, you have to think the Hogs would want to use him there. (EDIT: Fisher recently told HawgsIllustrated.com that Arkansas plans to start him out at cornerback) It’s also worth noting that this is Arkansas’ 3rd commitment from an Arizona prep in the class, with linebacker Brock Haman (3*, 3*, 2*) and cornerback Isiah Wiley (2*, 3*, NR) being the other two. Also, with the additions of Fisher and his fellow Ole Miss weekend commits Chris Barnett and Quinta “Funder-struck” Funderburk, Scout.com now ranks Arkansas’ 2011 class #9 in the nation and #4 in the SEC, behind only Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

– Warzecha –

Welcome to Fayetteville: Quinta Funderburk

Welcome to Fayetteville: Quinta Funderburk

Quinta Funderburk

Arkansas picked up its 22nd commitment from a high school senior when Virginia wideout Quinta Funderburk pledged to the Hogs on Sunday. Funderburk is 6′ 3″ and weighs an even 200 pounds – seemingly a perfect replacement for Greg Childs in the Razorback offense. He made his official visit to Arkansas earlier this season for the Alabama game and had since made official visits to Michigan and Florida. Based on his offer sheet alone, Funderburk’s ability on the field is clearly as awesome as his name. He lists offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, USC, Clemson, Penn State, Virginia Tech…you get the picture. Funderburk seemed very sure of his choice after making his commitment, lauding the Razorbacks’ 2011 class to date and stating his desire to bring conference and national championships to Fayetteville.

National Rankings

Rivals 3*, #38 WR
Scout 4*, #18 WR
ESPN 4*, #36 WR

Stats

So far in 2010, he has pulled in 46 catches for over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns for his 7-1 team, after posting 62 catches for 1,150 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. In his first game this season, playing in the Herbstreit Classic in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, he hauled in 7 passes for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. We can all only hope he plays that well every time he takes the field in Arlington…

Impact on the Class of 2011

Funderburk is the 4th wide receiver in the 2011 class, along with Keante Minor (St. Louis, IL – 3*, 4*, 4*), Davyon McKinney (Forrest City, AR – 3*, 3*, 3*), and Marquel Wade (Milford Academy, NY), who signed with the Hogs in 2010 but needed a year of prep school to get qualified. He and Minor are similarly ranked by the respective recruit services, but the offer sheets indicate that Funderburk is the bigger prize. He is definitely “bigger,” because while he looks similar to Childs on the field, at 6′ 0″ 194, Minor is built like more of a Jerius Wright. Petrino and his staff no doubt hope that Funderburk and Minor will complement on another as well their predecessors do.

– Warzecha –

Welcome to Fayetteville: Chris Barnett

Welcome to Fayetteville: Chris Barnett

Chris Barnett

The Razorbacks got more than a win towards their SEC standings on Saturday after their 14-point win over the Rebels (Bears?). They also got a “W” on the recruiting trail, earning a verbal commitment from a stud tight end out of Hurst, Texas in Chris Barnett. Apparently the Hurst Bell standout loves long games and rainy days, because he was in Fayetteville on an official visit for the game on Saturday and still decided to pull the trigger for the Hogs. However, he had also visited campus earlier this year in July for the Razorbacks’ Elite Camp. As commit #21 in the class of 2011, Barnett is one of Arkansas’ most highly regarded recruits to date, choosing the Hogs over Oregon and Miami, and also boasting offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC, and UCLA. He is actually an Oklahoma decommit, after previously committing verbally to the Sooners in February of his junior year.

National Rankings

Rivals 4*, #15 TE
Scout4*, #8 TE
ESPN 3*, #20 TE

Stats

Barnett is listed between 6′ 4″ and 6′ 6″ and reportedly runs a 4.52 40-yard dash at 250 pounds. Even if a slight embellishment, he’s clearly a heck of an athlete, and a big kid. Rivals.com lists Barnett’s route running skills and his soft hands as his biggest strengths and expects him to be a candidate for early playing time. I haven’t been able to find much as far as accurate stats go, but that is not highly unusual for a tight end – especially one that also lines up on the other side of the ball. After hitting the camp circuit this summer, he was named to the BadgerSports All-America 2nd Team.

Impact on the Class of 2011

Interestingly, Barnett is the third tight end in this class, joining Jervohnte Riles (Bessemer, AL – 3*, 3*, 4*) and Demetrius Dean (Fayetteville, AR – 3*, 3*, 4*). However, he seems to be the most highly touted, and the rangy Riles (6′ 4″ 211) is often listed as an athlete who could potentially line up at wide receiver or even outside linebacker. Even though Barnett plays DE in high school, he’s likely a lock to be the Razorbacks’ next athletic outside threat at the TE position. And with him and Dean (and possibly Riles) one would think that Petrino’s staff is done recruiting tight ends for this year.

– Warzecha –

The Breakdown: Arkansas vs Ole Miss – October 23rd

Houston Nutt & Bobby Petrino

When Arkansas Runs

The running game has been considered the weak half of the Arkansas offense all season, but it needs to be noted that all but one team (Louisiana-Monroe) on the Hogs’ schedule thus far is ranked as a Top 20 rushing defense nationally. That kind of opposition makes it difficult to employ a dominant ground attack, but in the last two weeks, against the #2 and #15 rush defenses, the Hogs have averaged 3.7 and 4.9 yards per carry, respectively. Not bad at all given the competition.
The Rebels boast the 23rd ranked rush defense in the country and had a surprising amount of success against Alabama’s 37th ranked running attack last week, holding the combination of Ingram and Richardson to a paltry 2.9 yards per carry on 34 attempts. Remember though, that Ole Miss had an extra week to prepare for Alabama’s visit to Oxford – a luxury they won’t be afforded against the Razorbacks. If the Hogs can run the ball on Saturday for an average anywhere in between what they produced against better defenses in the past two weeks, that should be plenty good enough to keep the Rebels from selling out to defend the pass.
EDGE: Draw

When Arkansas Passes

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Hogs – and it looks like it will be Ryan Mallett (http://blogs.nwaonline.com/slophouse/2010/10/20/mallett-returns-to-practice/) – the passing game is…well, its basically unstoppable. Arkansas is the #2 passing team in the entire nation, behind only Hawaii, who throws the ball like 350 times a game. The Razorbacks have faced pass defenses ranked in the top 25% nationally (Alabama & Georgia) and defenses ranked in the bottom 25% (Texas A&M & Auburn). The results have all been pretty much the same. The only thing that stops Arkansas’ passing game is itself, and probably Tebow, somehow.
Ole Miss doesn’t even pretend to be a competent pass defense. Ranked 96th in the country, the Rebels have faced some decent passing attacks, but nothing nearly like Arkansas, and nobody ranked in the Top 25 for that matter. A healthy Arkansas QB, whoever it is, should have plenty of success getting the ball to every one of Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, D.J. Williams, and Cobi Hamilton on Saturday.
EDGE: Arkansas

Ryan Mallett & Tyler Wilson

When Ole Miss Runs

As stated above Arkansas is statistically worse than 81 other teams when it comes to stopping the run – much worse (and rightfully so) than they were before the embarrassment that was Cam Newton and Auburn’s #6 rushing offense last week. While the Rebels won’t be trotting out anyone with half the skills of Newton on Saturday, after what we saw last week, the Razorback run defense is far from worthy of trust at the moment.
EDGE: Ole Miss

When Ole Miss Passes

Arkansas is, statistically, the best pass defense Ole Miss will have seen this season, ranked #12 in the country. And much as it seems like Arkansas hasn’t been that dominant, it’s not like they’ve just been facing below average offenses. In fact, four of Arkansas’ five opponents have passing attacks ranked in the Top half of teams nationally, with Texas A&M’s #10 ranked unit being the best of the bunch. I think this indicates that the Razorbacks’ ranking here is pretty legitimate.
EDGE: Arkansas

Intangibles

Well, regardless of records, the coaches, players, and most importantly the fans involved in this game want to win in the worst way. No need to further explain the history there, except to say that it probably runs both ways pretty equally. Luckily for Hog fans, the game is in Fayetteville, so they are the ones who will get to try to make a difference on gameday.
I’m not sure it’s completely fair to say, given such a small sample size, but if anyone has anyone’s number here, Nutt has Petrino’s after winning the head to head match-up in each of the two years since both coaches took their current posts in 2008. But as the 3rd Edition of WIlly Robinson vs. Gus Mahlzan showed last week, winning the first two doesn’t always mean much.

You also have to wonder how this Razorback team will respond to, not only a tough, seemingly unfair loss, but also the reality that the major goals it had set out to achieve this season are now basically pipe dreams.
Intangibles: Draw

Prediction

This stacks up to be a game that will be closer than most Razorback fans likely expected it to be just a couple weeks ago. However, pound for pound Arkansas is the better, more talented football team and they are playing at home. When Ole Miss has the ball, any advantage it has when running the ball will be met with equal force from Arkansas’ advantage when Jeremiah Masoli puts the ball in the air. The biggest mismatch by far – as usual – will come when Arkansas drops back to hook up with any of its numerous down-field threats. The Hogs should score plenty. The Rebels won’t score as many.
Prediction: Arkansas 34 – 24

– Warzecha –

Arkansas at Auburn Blown Call October 16th

Here is video of the blown call from the 2nd quarter of the Arkansas vs Auburn game. The Auburn player is given a touchdown even though a fumble was called on the field. Take a look for yourself and decide if he got in the end zone.

[update: Looks like the SEC didn’t want people seeing the replay of the blown call. They’re party poopers and took the video down. Sorry, there isn’t anything we can do about it. If you know of other places people can find the video, please leave a comment to the link.]