Jim Harris: Do Hogs Have 1 More Road Win in Them?


STARKVILLE, Miss. — My takeaway the morning after a 58-42 Arkansas win over Mississippi State: The game went pretty much as I had expected. Arkansas was much better up front and performed all four quarters. The Hogs defense did some good things for one quarter and that decided it.

I’m very impressed longterm with the MSU freshman quarterback Fitzgerald, as I am for  Arkansas’s ever-improving running back tandem of Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley, who combined for for than 300 yards rushing. Williams had a magical day beginning with the Hogs’ second snap and his 72 yard run, on the way to 4 rushing touchdowns and even an ingeniously designed jump-pass for a touchdown pass. We got to learn that Rawleigh is left-handed. That was his first touchdown pass since his 8th-grade football team when he played quarterback.

Of course, the running backs don’t have that night, or Austin Allen doesn’t get enough time to throw his pinpoint strikes to Keon Hatcher, surprising freshman tight end Cheyenne O’Grady and other targets eithout the unsung line heroes, left tackle Dan Skipper and center Frank Ragnow. They were pile-driving defenders downfield to spring Williams all game. Hatcher’s downfield blocking was also a key.

It takes a very special defensive player to play against these type offenses these days. We’ve been seeing this come up from the high school ranks for some time now and it’s translating to Saturdays.

Dropback passing without a running quarterback vs. great defensive ends/speed defenses is also becoming a dinosaur. Atkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos has made the most of everything he’s had.

Arkansas has some good young special defenders, though (Sosa Agim, De’jon Harris, Ryan Pulley). The upperclasses aren’t providing too much, though, other than Jeremiah Ledbetter to make play after play.

It’s just become a different game, even in the old power-grinding SEC, with too much advantage  given to the offensive side, and it’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators.

But Arkansas is 7-4 and likely took Birmingham, Shreveport and Memphis out of the bowl destination equation. Nashville or Charlotte seem to set up as likely bowl trips, though Houston is a city that Bret Bielema would enjoy for recruiting purposes.

Recruiting is the only way to change Arkansas’s defensive prospects. Add more talent like Agim, Harris, Pulley and incoming safety Montaric Brown from Ashdown and you don’t have to score more than 42 points to win. It’s hard to believe that the 38-14 halftime score that sent two-thirds of the cowbell-clanging crowd still wasn’t enough points.

Now comes Missouri, which topped 700 total yards vs Tennessee while still getting walloped. Do the Hogs have another perfect offensive day left in them to win on the road again and reach 8-4?

Where do you expect to see the Razorbacks play in a bowl game this season?

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