The stage is set. It’s the Razorbacks vs Southern Miss Golden Eagles Live Blog from Fayetteville.
Join us today as Jim Harris tracks the action on the field from Donald W. Reynolds Stadium in Fayetteville. The Arkansas Razorbacks vs Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
The game kicks off at 11:21 a.m. Sept. 14, 2013, and is televised the SEC Network. Details on where to watch the game are available by clicking this link.
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3:38 p.m. 24-3 Hogs, final — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said it was good for A.J. Derby to settle in after he was a bit “rattled” when he first entered the game, as the backup quarterback helped lead the Razorbacks to their third win of the year.
Arkansas’ Alex Collins became the first freshman in SEC history to rush for 100 or more yards in his first three games. Imagine the players in league history who went on to greatness (or in the case of such stars as Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker, won the Heisman Trophy) who didn’t accomplish that.
Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and start mentioning Collins and Heisman in the same breath. Collins, in the post-game interviews, credited his offensive line for giving him the chance to top 100 yards in each of his three games so far.
His fellow tailback, sophomore Jonathan Williams, also cracked the 100-yard mark for the third game and had his third breakaway TD run in three games as well, this one of 45 yards that gave Arkansas some breathing room at 17-3 in the third quarter.
Jarrett Lake, the senior linebacker who had to sit out last week’s game for a team violation apparently incurred under the previous staff, looked like he was trying to get two games’ worth of tackles in one. He said he set his goal for 15 tackles but finished two short of that. Lake did sniff out USM’s fake field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter; Lake said he noticed two Golden Eagles on his side whispering in a way that clued him in to a possible fake, and USM’s shovel pass attempt only gained 2 of the necessary 7 yards to get a first down.
Defensive end Chris Smith had three sacks, and Bielema said he was the player of the game. His opposite bookend, Trey Flowers, returned from injury to deflect and then intercept a pass early in the game.
See you next week when Arkansas travels to Rutgers for a nationally televised game (ABC or ESPN’s networks) that kicks off at 2:30 Arkansas time.
Meanwhile, catch me Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. as the KTHV, Channel 11 “Hog Zone Super Saturday” team breaks down this game. And look on this site for the Two-Minute Drill as we highlight various highs and lows in Saturday’s game.
2:25 p.m. 24-3 — We’re just about done here as Williams keeps piling up rushing yardage. We’ll check back in after the trip to the post-game interviews.
Hogs improve to 3-0. Southern Miss’ losing streak will grow to 15 straight, 0-3 under Todd Monken.
2:23 p.m. — Hogs keep running the clock with another first down. Which gives me a chance to remind you that I’ll be on KTHV Channel 11′s Hog Zone Super Saturday with Michael Smith up here and Mark Edwards, Anthony Lucas and J.J. Meadors in Little Rock at 6:30 p.m. and again at 10:30 p.m. Check us out.
2:20 p.m. 24-3 Hogs — Attendance today is 63,067. The actual crowd on hand isn’t far off from what we saw on opening day against Louisiana-Lafayette. There were more people in the east and west upper decks, but fewer in the cheap seats atop the south end zone complex. Half the crowd has hauled out of here now, though.
Beautiful day. Wish they all could be like this.
2:13 p.m. 24-3 Hogs — Alex Collins is the first freshman in Arkansas history to rush for 100 or more yards in his first three games. Both Collins and Jonathan Williams at this point have 106 yards rushing.
Collins is also the first freshman in all of Division I since Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma to rush for 100 yards in his first three games.
2:08 p.m. 17-3 — A facemask penalty on a third-down run by Collins moves Arkansas to the 7. These runs are all to the left side, which really hasn’t been blocking as well as the right.
So, from the 7, Collins starts on what looks like a power run left, but then cuts it back inside and jiggles his way to the goal line.
First call is touchdown. Play is under review.
While it’s being reviewed, we’d like to point out that lost in the injury to Brandon Allen and the tightness of this game is that true freshman Denver Kirkland came in to replace the injured Grady Ollison early in the second quarter and has done a very solid job on that side.
It appears Arkansas is working on getting its left side stronger, because Brey Cook at right guard and Kirkland at right tackle are knocking defenders backward.
Touchdown stands. Hocker converts. Arkansas has a three-score lead.
It ain’t pretty, but it apparently will be Arkansas’ third win, though 7:20 still remains.
2:04 p.m. — That’s how you use Kiero Small, after you’ve already used up the “small-cat” formation. Throw to him in the flat for 16 yards to reach the USM 34 and keep working the clock while wearing out the Golden Eagles’ defense.
2:00 p.m. — Arkansas is powering it now, winning the line of scrimmage and punching it out to near midfield behind Alex Collins. He’s really something, isn’t he? He’s the epitome of the “be your own blocker” type of back. Arkansas has had some great backs in recent years, but not a lot who could move and create space where there was none.
Really, I’m only posting now to point out that Akron is beating Michigan in the Big House 24-20 with four minutes to play, David Bazzel tells me. Bazzel and I and Jason Snavely make up the north end of row 2 in the press box. Not a big press turnout today compared to what’s probably coming here in two weeks.
Collins and Jonathan Williams are both approaching 100 yards again for the third straight week. Collins needs 2 more.
1:56 p.m. 17-3 — Certainly you saw that one coming, right? USM faked the field goal from the UA 21, but Arkansas’ Jarrett Lake and Tevin Mitchel had the shovel pass sniffed out and limited Nic Bekkers to 2 yards, turning the ball back over to the offense.
Arkansas had 74 yards of offense in the third quarter, three times its second-quarter output.
1:53 p.m., 17-3 Hogs — Well, USM is moving the ball all over the place but hasn’t legally cracked the end zone yet. Kendrick Hardy had a 49-yard touchdown run down the left sideline called back by an obvious holding on the USM wideout against Will Hines, but the Golden Eagles still have possession, fourth down and 7, at the UA 21 with the fourth quarter about to begin.
In the third quarter alone, USM rushed for three-quarters of its total rushing yards this season, gaining 63 on the ground and 124 total yards. But all the Golden Eagles have to show for it is missed field goal.
1:45 p.m. 17-3 Hogs — Arkansas has had some of the worst field position I remember the Hogs having in a while. They’ll start this possession at the 9 after slowing down another USM march into Arkansas territory.
1:43 p.m. — I couldn’t understand the song that Hog players were singing on the video board, but the crowd seemed to like it during that UA timeout. Sure beats a weather report or a long sponsor ad. This was ad placement too, Reese’s was the sponsor, but it was well done and, well, everyone paid attention. That’s good advertising!
1:32 p.m. 17-3, Hogs — Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney did exactly that (see previous post), coming up with some shorter (6-10 yard range routes) that Derby would have more confidence in rather than the routes planned for Brandon Allen, and they solidified those in the halftime locker room, no doubt.
Derby hit Julian Horton with a bullet over the middle for 11 yards that moved the chains for the first time in forever, putting the Hogs at the UA 49. Then Derby had a fullback, Kiero Small, open for 5 yards in the flat to give Chaney a workable distance for second down.
That makes the running game work, and Jonathan Williams showed just how, breaking through left tackle, cutting right, then back left and running the distance to the left pylon, 45 yards.
Now there’s some breathing room, though Hog fans no doubt would like the defense to play like it’s still a 7-point game.
1:31 p.m. 10-3 — Derby with more confidence on a bullet over the middle to Horton for 10 yards to move the chains. Arkansas at the Hogs’ 49. That has to pep up the rest of the offense.
1:27 p.m. 10-3 Hogs — Arkansas’ defense bent a little bit, but stiffened enough to force a Corey Acosta field goal from 49 yards that hit the back line and was wide right anyway.
USM moved it 43 yards with some effective bootleg plays for the quarterback and some good pass routes that took the Arkansas coverage downfield. That pass rush eventually got to Bridgford, though, and forced a hurry, USM jumped to lose five by penalty and the run defense tightened as well. Arkansas also played a screen pass to the left well to force the field goal.
Now, let’s see what offensive adjustments Jim Chaney has made to make Derby more effective.
1:12 p.m. 10-3 halftime — More on the Derby stats. Give the Arkansas offense an additional 21 yards it picked up late in the first quarter as Derby’s doing. So Arkansas gained 48 yards with Derby at the helm and 84 with Allen in. Arkansas had difficult field position on all but one series in the first half, and the Hogs gave that good fortune up with Allen’s first interception of the season on the first snap of the possession at USM’s 40.
1:05 p.m. 10-3 Arkansas, halftime — I’ll try to break the stats down pre-Brandon Allen’s injury and after he left with an apparently hurt right shoulder, forcing A.J. Derby into the game.
But first, the overall stats: Arkansas has 159 yards to USM’s 122, and the Hogs are averaging a paltry 4.2 yards on 38 plays to USM’s 3.5 yards on 35 plays.
Alex Collins was averaging more than 10 yards per carry when Allen was in the game, and that’s fallen to 5.2 yards per rush. He has 57 yards on 11 attempts.
USM has 9 first downs to Arkansas’ 8.
Bridgford is 7 for 20 passing for 72 yards, so kudos to Arkansas’ pass defense and the pass rush.
Now, with Derby in the game starting with the second quarter, Arkansas has 27 yards to USM’s 67. Arkansas averaged 1.6 yards per play on 14 snaps, but the Hogs’ defense held USM to 2.2 per play on 10 snaps.
Arkansas, after 132 yards rushing in the first quarter, managed just 23 in the second, but the Hogs did take a 19-yard loss when Derby let a shotgun snap go threw his hands.
Derby looks downright scared to take a shotgun snap. Now, Brandon Mitchell, who transferred after spring practice rather than run second behind Brandon Allen in his senior season, had his own difficulties when the lights were on with snaps, but Derby doesn’t look like he’s a guarantee to catch it even when it’s sent right back to him. The one he missed was a little on the outside of his right leg, but Brandon Allen wouldn’t have missed a beat.
Remember when Tyler Wilson could ONLY take direct snaps and couldn’t handle a snap from center very well when he first was playing quarterback for Bobby Petrino? Yeah, those were the days.
At least Derby can handle regular snaps. But he’s completed just 1 of 2 passes for 4 yards, and Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney doesn’t look like he wants to trust any of the passing game to Derby at this juncture.
12:57 p.m. 10-3, halftime — If Arkansas played defense as inspired as it did in the final 30 seconds of the first half, it might have a fearsome unit. Chris Smith finally got to USM quarterback Allan Bridgford after seemingly running past him most of the time, and then he did it again on the next snap along with two other Hogs as they pushed the Golden Eagles backward after they’d pushed into Hog territory.
They might have gained possession before the half ran out had they played the play to the whistle, instead of stopping when Bridgford was hit by end JaMichael Winston as he tried to pass. The whistle never blew, it was seen as a fumble by the referee, but at least two Hogs near the ball just stopped while USM’s Jalen Richard picked it up and ran 11 yards. At least UA cornerback Tevin Mitchel was paying enough attention to tackle Richard at the Hogs 48.
That’s when Smith seemingly got angry and was credited with both sacks, totaling 14 yards in losses.
12:50 p.m. 10-3 — Don’t think I’ve ever seen a defender’s helmet come off and remain stuck to a player, but that’s what just happened with the USM tackler who brought down Alex Collins after a 7-yard gain.
Arkansas fails to convert a third-and-1 on their 17, running Kiero Small from the I-back position. The left guard for Arkansas didn’t block anyone, so it wouldn’t have mattered had Collins or Williams been in, as they should be.
Then Hocker nearly gets a punt blocked. USM takes over at its 41 following the kick with :50 showing in the half.
12:47 p.m. — Arkansas gets that second turnover, but I’m not sure that wasn’t as good as a punt for USM, particularly with Arkansas’ quarterback situation. Cornerback Will Hines flags down a ball thrown deep to no one really and Arkansas takes over at its 8.
Arkansas’ defense, after those consecutive 3-and-outs, let the Golden Eagles out of the deep end and off their 7, giving up running yardage to a team that can’t run. USM pushed out to the Hogs 49 before the interception.
12:42 p.m. — Jared Collins is down after the punt. They’ve brought out a stretcher and trainers have been toweling his head.
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12:37 p.m. — Two runs into a stacked defense and then a third-down run, a smoke draw as all the ol’ Houston Nutt fans might say. That gets Arkansas 8 yards, but not the 10 necessary to move the stakes.
I haven’t seen Arkansas fans this uncomfortable since the 1987 Texas game in Little Rock.
Seriously, Alex Collins had no room to run on the first two downs. On second down, Arkansas flooded the left side to get an overload, but USM reacted well and had that side well manned. Arkansas hasn’t been winning many one-on-one blocking battles lately.
Sam Erwin-Hill had a nice punt, though, and USM held on the return as well, setting the Golden Eagles back to their 7.
USM had 10 turnovers in its first two games. The Golden Eagles have one today. Arkansas needs about four more from them or this will be a four-quarter battle.
12:33 p.m. 10-3 Hogs — I hate to imagine ever saying the Razorback defense would have to win this game, but it appears on both teams most recent series that this will be the case.
I’m not feeling Derby being able to open up the Eagles’ defense, and lately they’ve had 8-9 in the box against the run. But the Hog defense has stepped up with two impressive three-and-outs.
We have 4:35 left in the half.
12:30 p.m. 10-3 Hogs — Zach Hocker delivers from 42 yards as Arkansas at least gets 3 points out of the second-best field position it’s started with today. The Hogs moved it 20 yards, helpd immensely when quarterback A.J. Derby turned what seemed like a certain sack into a first-down scramble to the USM 30.
But it stopped there, and Derby’s first forays into the passing game left plenty to be desired. He and Javontee Herndon weren’t on the same page on a first pass, then Derby was behind Herndon on a crossing route and the receiver still pulled it in, only to get sandwiched by defenders.
12:26 p.m. 7-3 Hogs — Right tackle Grady Ollison was down and is now being helped off the field after a short run by Keiro Small off the direct snap play we saw earlier.
Which brings up this question: is offensive coordinator Jim Chaney getting a little too cute with this offense, running Small in a psuedo “wildcat” direct snap twice (first one caught USM off guard, not this one) and two fullbacks in the game at the same time?
As we’re writing that, A.J. Derby turns what could’ve been a big sack into a big gain to the USM 30 and a first down. Impressive scramble even if he’s not as fast as Brandon Allen.
12:20 pm 7-3 Hogs — I would imagine Hog fans are a little nervous when Javontee Herndon fields those bounding rugby punts, no? But Herndon did the Razorbacks good on this return, 15 yards, setting up the offense on the USM 45.
Arkansas’ defense pitched a three-and-out, and noticeable was the good coverage by middle linebacker Austin Jones on Markese Triplett who was crossing. Quarterback Allan Bridgford was hurried by Chris Smith’s rush, as well.
12:14 p.m. 7-3 Hogs — At some point, quarterback A.J. Derby is going to have to throw the football. USM geared up for Arkansas’ running game on this most recent possession, and it was a three-and-out with little running room even for the hard-driving Collins, who needed four or five guys to bring him down on the first down. Alas, that was only a run back to the line of scrimmage, reminding me of a great Lou Holtz line from years ago that was a back-handed slap of what he thought of his offensive line.
Sam Erwin-Hill gets to show off his rugby punting, and finally USM will start in more of a hole than the Golden Eagles have seen today, beginning this possession on their 17.
No word on whether Allen is threw for the day or not. This might be Derby’s game to have to win and what little we’ve seen of his passing isn’t quite what the Hogs’ get from Allen.
12:08 p.m. 7-3 Hogs — The Golden Eagles get on the board with Justin Sims’ 27-yard field goal, but it could have been a lot worse for Arkansas.
Cornerback Tevin Mitchel was in man-to-man coverage on Marquise Richard, who got inside and pulled in a 30-yard strike from quarterback Allan Bridgford at the Hogs’ 11. The Hogs also got flagged for interference on safety Eric Bennett in the end zone a dropped pass, giving the Eagles a first down at the 3.
But the Arkansas defense stepped up big at that point, dropping Hardy for a loss of 3 on first down. Strong safety Alan Turner made his best play so far this season with great coverage and a knockaway of a pass on a crossing route, and on third down, freshman cornerback D.J. Dean came streaking in and batted away a pass attempt, leading to Sims’ field goal.
12:03 p.m. — Derby would also need to competently field the snap from center. On third down, the snap goes right through his hands and ends up being a 19-yard loss.
USM takes over after the Zach Hocker punt at the Arkansas 46.r
11:58 a.m. 7-0 Hogs, end of one — That would be the right shoulder of Brandon Allen, who couldn’t move his arm. Could just be a stinger suffered on the fall when he scored. We’ll see.
That’s the end of the quarter. Arkansas has 132 total yards to Southern Miss’ 55. Seems like the Golden Eagles have way more than that, but they’ve had good field position and Arkansas has been backed up on every possession but the one after Trey Flowers’ acrobatic interception.
11:56 7-0 Hogs — Something — and we don’t know what, as no one has said anything in the press box — happened to UA starting quarterback Brandon Allen on his touchdown run. We’re seeing our first look at backup A.J. Derby, who transferred in to Arkansas last spring from junior college.
It would seem all Derby has to do is competently hand the ball off to Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, as well as they are running.
Oops, hold the presses: We’ve just been told Allen has sustained a shoulder injury.
11:52 a.m. — Javontee Herndon can’t handle a ground ball to second — actually a bouncing rugby punt — but Arkansas somehow comes up with the recovery at its 9. Southern Miss thought it had it, and it appeared one official had a premature signal for the Golden Eagles before it was straightened up.
That’s two bobbles in two games for Herndon as the deep man; last week he lost a fumble on a punt return after picking up some yardage late in the half against Samford. The miscue didn’t cost Arkansas on the scoreboard last week. This time the Hogs set up 91 yards away from the end zone.
On USM’s third down play before the punt, junior college transfer Carroll Washington saw his first significant defensive play and sure enough USM went at him, but Washington deflected a deep pass away.
11:50 p.m. 7-0 Hogs — Trey Flowers is back in the game for the Hogs, who are rotating Lewis in now at Chris Smith’s spot. USM has only TOTALED 89 yards rushing in two games, but is trying to run the ball and has had a little success against the Hogs so far. The Golden Eagles are back in Arkansas territory at the 46.
11:45 a.m. 7-0 Hogs — Brandon Allen shows some speed and quickness many people may not have realized he has, rolling and dropping as if to pass, then taking off around right end for 5 yards, diving over the goal line to put the Razorbacks on top with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
Arkansas marched 89 yards in 12 plays and ate up almost 6 minutes. It started with bursts by Alex Collins through right tackle of 14 and 23 yards to push the ball near midfield, and Allen reconnected with his second-favorite wideout, Julian Horton, to keep the drive going.
We also saw all sorts of gimmicks on the drive as well, though we’re not sure why unless it’s to give Rutgers (next week’s opponent in New Jersey) something to think about. We saw Kiero Small take a direct snap as the only back in the backfield with the receivers and flankers wide; we saw Small at the I-back with the even squattier backup fullback, Patrick Arinze, at fullback when the Razorbacks were inside the USM 10.
11:36 a.m. — If Arkansas needs to get its running game going, the Hogs simply put in freshman running back Alex Collins, who rips off runs of 14 and 23 yards to get the Hogs out to their 48.
Trey Flowers wasn’t back out on the field after his interception. But his replacement, Brandon Lewis, a redshirt freshman, made a nice play in his stead. Lewis got his long arm up and deflected Allan Bridgford’s swing pass to his right, and that helped stall USM’s drive after an interception to the Hog 37.
Arkansas takes over after a rugby style punt on its 11.
The Hogs had first possession of the game, and Brandon Allen was able to get one completion in when the defensive back who was covering Javontee Herndon fell down, resulting in a 19-yard gain. But the running yardage hasn’t been easy to come by and Allen threw toward a well-covered receiver on third down for an incompletion. Allen looked Herndon in for a second or two before trying the throw, and the USM defensive back appeared to be draped on him but the play drew no flag.
11:28 a.m. — Let’s get blogging. I’ll save my gripes for 11:21 a.m. kickoffs, bad traffic flow because of the early kickoffs and more for later.
Arkansas and Southern Mississippi trade interceptions in the 11-minute mark of the first quarter. Hog DE Trey Flowers dropped back into coverage in a nice scheme we haven’t seen for the Hogs yet in two games and picked USM in Golden Eagles territory.
Arkansas’ Brandon Allen then gave it right back with an interception at the right sideline at the USM 16, and the unathletic looking Razorbacks on offense didn’t look like they wanted to tackle the defender, Kelsey Douglas. He was finally brought down after a 25-yard return at the USM 41.
The Golden Eagles are now on a march into Arkansas territory at the Razorback 37. Much more to come.