Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas’

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 –

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.]

Sports Articles You Will Enjoy

Here are a few articles that you’d probably enjoy reading in between watching games this weekend.

The Breakdown: Arkansas at Auburn October 16th

When Auburn Runs

Cam Newton and Auburn are the #1 rushing offense in the SEC and rank 8th nationally with a 5.86 yards per carry average (ypc). And while much is made of Newton’s efficiency as a passer, this is where Auburn’s offense earns it’s pay, rushing for 276 yards and 2.5 TDs each game. In the Tigers’ single game against a ranked SEC team this season, they rushed for 335 yards and three TDs against South Carolina. FYI – those are the only TDs the Gamecocks defense has allowed on the ground all season. These guys can flat out run the ball.

Arkansas is respectably ranked as the 43rd rush defense nationally, allowing 3.47 ypc and five rushing TDs in five games this season. In comparison, the South Carolina defense that Auburn shredded is ranked 23rd and allows a similar 3.31 ypc. The last time Arkansas faced a top-notch SEC rushing attack, Alabama (29th in rushing nationally), the Hog defense basically held the Tide to its 5.56 average ypc. Those who watched can tell you that they did a decent job keeping the Bama runners in front of them for most of the day, but were really hurt by allowing a handful of long runs.
Edge: Auburn

When Auburn Passes

While Auburn’s passing game is constantly regarded as very efficient thanks to the high passer rating of Cam Newton, it’s far from explosive and falls in the middle of the pack nationally, ranked 69th. Certainly this is at least partially a by-product of Auburn choosing to rely on its ground game, but when Penn State’s laughable offense is ranked ahead of you in anything, that thing is not what I would consider very special. Predictably though, the Auburn pass attack has been much better at home than on the road where Newton has averaged more interceptions than TDs this season. At home Newton has a 5-1 TD to INT ratio and a 68% completion rate. Against South Carolina, Newton was basically picture-perfect on 21 passing attempts, completing 16 for 158 yards, two TDs and no INTs. It’s definitely worth noting though, that South Carolina is surprisingly ranked 103 in passing defense. Out of 120 teams, it’s safe to say that is a terrible pass defense.

Arkansas has been very good against the pass this season. The Hogs rank 19th nationally and 3rd in the SEC, allowing a mere 6.6 yards per pass attempt, 167 yards total per game and only four TDs to go along with five INTs. Four of the Razorbacks’ five opponents to date rank in the Top 50 nationally in passing offense, well above Auburn. Auburn has only faced one Top 40 pass defense this season – Kentucky. The Wildcats held Newton without a passing TD and picked him off once. This is the strength of the Arkansas defense to this point in the season (crazy, huh?) and the lesser of two strengths for the Auburn offense.
Edge: Arkansas

When Arkansas Runs

The much maligned Arkansas running game ranks only 96th nationally and has been good for 108 yards per game, but a surprisingly decent 3.94 ypc. Like Auburn’s passing offense, this ranking is likely skewed a bit by Arkansas’ reasonable reliance on Ryan Mallet and the passing game. Last week, against what is the 7th best rushing defense in the nation in Texas A&M (2.57 ypc), the Hogs ran for 132 yards and 3.7 yards per carry. Given the stiffness of the competition, that is actually a pretty encouraging development coming out of the bye week. Specifically, Knile Davis, who showed some flashes before the bye against Alabama, cruised to 82 yards on only 10 carries against the Aggies. If he isn’t given the bulk of the carries over Broderick Green at this point, he never will.

Auburn is very good against the run, ranking 14th nationally and giving up a paltry 2.8 ypc and 96 yards per game. Sure, they’ve only faced one Top 25 rushing offense (Mississippi St.), however it is fair to point out that Arkansas State (#72) and Louisiana-Monroe (#108), who are ranked in the same vicinity as Arkansas, were held to 1.2 yards per carry by Auburn. But let’s be serious, Arkansas’ personnel will match up much better with Auburn’s front seven than those teams could have. Also, last week the Hogs ran for a whole yard per carry better than what Texas A&M – a more highly ranked run defense – has allowed on the season.
Edge: Auburn

When Arkansas Passes

This is where things begin to look very good for the Razorbacks, who average 354 yards through the air and nearly three passing TDs per game – good for 3rd nationally in passing offense. The Hogs also average an elite 9.7 yards per pass attempt. That is per pass ATTEMPT, not completion. And while the Hogs have yet to face a truly elite pass defense in 2010, when you are one of the best in the nation at something offensively, its pretty common for the defenses you face to subsequently rank poorly in defending whatever that something is.

Auburn’s pass defense is completely terrible. They rank in the bottom quartile of the county at 91, and allow a 65% completion rate to opposing signal-callers. Arkansas’ last three opponents are ranked well ahead of Auburn in this category. South Carolina, despite losing at Auburn, threw for more than two yards above their 9.0 average yards per pass attempt and tossed 1/3 of their passing TDs this season (3) against the Tigers defense. Star wideout Alshon Jeffery had by far a season high 192 yards receiving and two TDs.
Edge: Arkansas (like, by a lot)

Intangibles

Bobby Petrino is 2-0 against Auburn since becoming the Head Coach of the Razorbacks and the Hogs have won three of the last four in the series. Auburn’s only win in that time was a 9-7 thriller at home in 2007 against a Casey Dick led Hogs team. Hogs defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is also 2-0 against Gus Malzahn as an offensive coordinator, holding Gus’ offenses to 23 points in both wins – one while Gus was with Tulsa in 2008, and one last season, Gus’ first as Auburn’s offensive coordinator. Arkansas also had the pleasure of playing Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson last week, who plays the game very similarly to Cam Newton. While Newton is no doubt the better player of the two, this should at least be a small bonus in terms of preparation.

Prediction

This will be a great game. Both teams are pretty evenly matched and surely know what’s at stake. However, the major edge Arkansas has while passing, the recent signs of life from the Razorback run game, and the recent history in this series will provide just enough to overcome Auburn’s home-field advantage. Prediction: Arkansas 31 – 27.

– Warzecha –

College Football Lead Pipe Locks for October 16th

Ohio State (-4) at Wisconsin

ESPN and the rest of the sports media is eager to declare this game as a likely stumbling point for the Buckeyes. Really? Sure, maybe Ohio State has had some tough games in Camp Randall Stadium but so have most big ten teams. More important in my mind is that Ohio State is 8-0 in its last eight road games against ranked teams and is 19-1 in its last 20 Big Ten road games. Wisconsin is nothing all that special and their style of offense plays right into the strength of a stout, talented Buckeye defense. I expect Pryor to provide his first real Heisman-worthy performance of 2010 in a Buckeye win. Prediction: Ohio State 30 – 20.

Florida (-7) vs. Mississippi State

Florida is embarrassed. They’re angry. And they’re way more talented than the Bulldogs. Mississippi State is offensively inept. Look for Florida’s offense and defense to come out swinging Saturday night in the Swamp. Prediction: Florida 27 – 16.

Utah at Wyoming (over 53)

Utah averages more than 49 points per game. All but one of their games this season have gone over the total – by a lot. In their last three games they’ve scored 56 (@ New Mexico), 56 (San Jose St.) and 68 (@ Iowa St.). Utah likely covers this spread in a shutout, but I expect Wyoming to put a few points on the board as well. Prediction: Utah 52 – 13.

Arkansas (+4) at Auburn

This match-up promises to be one of the best – and most important – in the nation this week. Both teams are coming off wins against solid teams that were probably closer than they should have been. Both teams are fighting to take advantage of Alabama’s suddenly imperfect record. Both teams have potentially explosive offenses. But the weakest unit on the field on Saturday will be Auburn’s defense. That will be the difference in a huge road win for the Razorbacks. Prediction: Arkansas 31 – 27.

LOCK OF THE WEEK!!!!

Utah (-20) at Wyoming

Wyoming has been a dog by more than 20 points three times this season. They covered a 27.5 point spread against a seriously overrated Texas team in week one, and failed to cover 23 and 35 point spreads to Boise State and TCU, respectively. The Cowboys lost those last two games by a collective score of 96-6. Utah is a lot closer to its BCS-busting brethren than it is to Texas. In fact, with the 3rd best scoring offense in college football, Utah has been even more explosive than both the Broncos and Horned Frogs. This will be a major blowout. Prediction: Utah 52 – 13.

Warzecha Season Record: 7-7 (beginning in week 3)

Illegal Shift College Football Poll

The four of us (Edwards, Cook, Thompson & Warzecha) who contribute to this blog decided to put together our own College Football poll. We started by each filling out who we think are the top 14 teams. Then we took those results and mashed em together to create the official Illegal Shift College Football Poll.

  1. Oregon (3)
  2. Ohio State (1)
  3. Nebraska
  4. Alabama
  5. Boise State
  6. Auburn
  7. TCU
  8. South Carolina
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Utah
  11. Arkansas
  12. Stanford
  13. Michigan State
  14. LSU

If you think we’ve messed this whole thing up, then let us know in the comments what your top 14 looks like.

College Football Lead Pipe Locks For October 9th

Nebraska (-10) vs. Kansas State

Nebraska has looked dominant all season, except for a week 3 hiccup in an unimpressive win against South Dakota State. SDSU is really bad. Like 0-4 against 3 bad teams and Nebraska kind of bad. Luckily, Nebraska followed that performance with a bye week in which Bo Pelini likely helped the Huskers get it together. K-State is 4-0 and has ridden the coattails of a good running game to this point, but they have not faced anything like Nebraska’s defense to date. UCLA – ranked 68 in total defense – is the best the Wildcats have gone up against. Nebraska has a Top 10 defense that gives up less than 13 points per game. Nebraska, with two weeks to prepare, and playing at home. won’t have any problem staying unbeaten on Thursday night. Prediction: Nebraska 34 – 20.

Michigan State (+4.5) at Michigan

This is a major grudge-match in 2010. Michigan State has won two in a row against their big brother for the first time since the mid-1960’s. Michigan wants this win so bad they can taste it. They have one of the most prolific offenses in the country, but a below average defense as well. The Spartans will have head coach Mark Dantonio back on the sideline for the first time since suffering a heart attack three weeks ago immediately after the teams’ overtime win against Notre Dame. And while Michigan State may not have the passing attack that allowed Notre Dame and Indiana to rack up yardage against the Wolverines, they have a great running game that should be able to score consistently against the Wolverine defense and keep Denard Robinson off the field. Shoelace only needed 18 minutes last week though, to lead the Michigan offense to almost 600 yards and 42 points. There won’t be that big of a time of possession disparity this week in the Big House. Michigan wins, but it’s a close one. Prediction: Michigan 35 – 31.

Auburn (-6.5) at Kentucky

Auburn’s offense hummed to an easy victory last week and looks to be getting better and better. Cam Newton is moving up Heisman lists, and rightfully so. Kentucky is going in the opposite direction, losing two in a row after starting the season 3-0. Kentucky is the home team, but coming off of a hard fought loss to Ole Miss while Auburn was able to rest its starters against Louisiana-Monroe is a bad formula for the Wildcats. This won’t be a blow out, but Auburn will win by enough. Prediction: Auburn 34 – 24.

Alabama (-6.5) at South Carolina

The Tide is clearly the class of college football in 2010, again. Yes, they are going on the road again, where they got a major scare from Arkansas two weeks ago. Yes, South Carolina has had a bye week to prepare for the game. But South Carolina does not have the aerial attack that the Hogs used to exploit Bama’s defense. Heck, the ol’ ball coach is back to yanking quarterbacks again. Saban’s team is on a mission. If they stumble, it won’t be here. Prediction: Alabama 27 – 17.

LOCK OF THE WEEK!!!

Arkansas (-6.5) vs. Texas A&M

Arkansas has had two weeks to let the sting of letting Alabama off the hook subside. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for A&M’s dangerous offense and average defense. Coach Petrino will have the Hogs re-focused and ready to make a run through the rest of their schedule. A&M will score some points, but their offense is not as good as Alabama’s (who scored 24 on the Hogs) and their quarterback is a turnover machine. Hogs win, and they win comfortably. Prediction: Arkansas 41 – 27.

Season Record: 4 – 5 (beginning in Week 3)

Arkansas Razorbacks Can Still Play For The National Championship If…

Here is one of the scenarios we came up with that allows Arkansas to play for a National Championship in 2010-2011.

  1. Arkansas wins out through week 11, and goes into Little Rock to face LSU with a 10-1 record. This will undoubtedly move Arkansas up in the rankings from current #11 ranking into the Top 5, almost regardless of what other teams are doing.
  2. Auburn, outside of a merciless beat down at the hands of the Razorbacks, wins the rest of their games through week 11, and goes to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama with a 10-1 record ranked behind Arkansas.
  3. Alabama also wins all of its games through week 11 (not that hard to believe).
  4. In week 12, Arkansas beats LSU AND Alabama loses the “Iron Bowl” to Auburn.

This likely does two things.

  1. A three-team tie is created atop the SEC West.
  2. Arkansas should be high enough to have Alabama fall below the Hogs in the post-week-12 rankings.

3 Way Tie-Breaker

In this scenario, Arkansas will win the SEC West tie-breaker for having the highest BCS ranking of the three tied teams and earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game. (NOTE: it could be possible that Auburn’s win over Alabama could vault the Tigers over the Razorbacks in the polls, but I think because: (1) Arkansas beat Auburn down in October and (2) Arkansas will be getting an impressive win of its own that week, Arkansas will hold Auburn back)

Arkansas does what it couldn’t do in 2006 and beats Florida in Atlanta

A one-loss SEC champion is going to play for the national title this year. While Boise State and TCU may not lose, a 12-1, SEC Champion Arkansas team would almost certainly jump over them based on how much stronger their computer poll numbers would be.

A Few Losses That Would Help

This leaves Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arizona as potentially ahead of Arkansas.

  • Arizona and Oregon will knock one of each other off
  • Oklahoma and Nebraska – if the Sooners even make it to the Big 12 title game.
  • Ohio State needs to lose to at least one out of  @Wisconsin, Penn St, @Iowa or Mich.
  • Oregon needs to lose to at least one out of @USC, Wash, @Cal, AZ or @OR St.
  • Huskers need to lose to at least one out of TX, @OSU, Mizzou, @A&M or Big 12 Championship Game

Arkansas is in. Simple as that!

– Warzecha –

College GameDay Disses Arkansas?

Idaho? Really?

College GameDay announced today they will be taking their big bus to Idaho next week. This got a lot of Arkansas Razorback fans fired up and feeling dissed. Of course you can somewhat see their point. The Razorbacks are undefeated and ranked #10 in the AP poll. They will be hosting the #1 team in the nation and defending national champs Alabama. So when College GameDay decides to go to Idaho where Boise St. is hosting an average Oregon St. team, you can kind of understand why they would get so upset.

Then again I can think of a few reasons why College GameDay would choose Boise St over Arkansas.

  • This is the last chance GameDay could go to Boise St. this year. Oregon State is the last ranked team on the schedule and if Boise St loses a game this year then they automatically become irrelevant. Kind of a now or never type deal.
  • Alabama hosts Florida the next week. Florida is currently ranked #9 in the AP pole just ahead of Arkansas.
  • Alabama/Florida has a bigger national appeal then Arkansas/Alabama. With the Gators’ recent successes and battles with Alabama in big games make their game a more compelling draw.
  • College GameDay has already featured Alabama once this year. They have also featured an SEC school each of the first 3 weeks. (LSU/NC, PennSt/Alabama, Auburn/Clemson)

Still A Chance

Razorback fans could possibly look to host Gameday on October 23rd when Ole Miss comes to town. The added rivalry between Arkansas and Houston Nutt will help. The other two compelling games that week would be LSU/Auburn or Wisconsin/Iowa. If it doesn’t happen that week then the only other chance would be November 27th against LSU. This could be tough with so many rivalry games happening that week and we all know how much GameDay loves USC vs Notre Dame. You never know, maybe Little Rock will get a chance to host their first ever College GameDay. If all else fails then maybe Arkansas will get on College GameDay when they go to Auburn or South Carolina.

Do you think Arkansas got dissed? Or does Boise St. make more sense considering all the factors?