Jim Harris: Two-Minute Drill – South Carolina 52-Arkansas 7


South Carolina 52-Arkansas 7 Final

South Carolina 52-Arkansas 7

Hear from Arkansas players, Chris Smith, Brandon Allen, Kiero Small, Deatrich Wise and Jarrett Lake, as well as head coach Bret Bielema on the loss Saturday. Fantastic and honest assessments from them all about the “unacceptable” day of play.

You read that final score right; this wasn’t a flash forward to next week’s Razorback game at Alabama. Arkansas put the first points on the board Saturday with an impressive 64-yard, 7-play drive of the opening kickoff, With Alex Collins bolting the final 7 yards for the score, and then the Hogs saw South Carolina come back with a 52-0 answer. Brandon Allen had yet another pass picked on his end in a crucial moment, and while this wasn’t returned for a touchdown, it was carried by Victor Hampton to the UA 6, setting up Mike Davis’ blast up the middle for the go-ahead score with 5:12 left in the first quarter. Arkansas was staggered by the adversity and the Gamecocks never looked back, but just for good measure the Hogs failed on a fake punt attempt inside of three minutes before halftime, allowing Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks to cover 49 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead. The Razorback defense was bad against the pass and awful against the run, allowing four straight second-half drives for touchdowns from the Gamecocks. Meanwhile, the Hogs were a comedy of errors with fumbles after long runs and missed tackles galore. Allen claimed in the post-game interviews that his shoulder was fine, yet he completed just 4 of 13 passes for 30 yards. Arkansas stuck to the ground most of the second half and gained 218 rushing yards for the game.

The nationally 14th-ranked Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1 in the SEC) just let Arkansas implode and rolled to a ridiculously easy win. Quarterback Connor Shaw occasionally felt heat from the Razorback front four, the strongest part of the UA defense, but mostly he ran and passed the Hogs silly for three quarters, gaining 37 net rushing yards and completing 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mike Davis powered for 128 yards on 19 carries. Receiver Bruce Ellington was mostly neglected by the Razorback secondary as he caught 6 passes for  96 yards and 2 touchdowns. Talk about some decisive statistics: South Carolina had 32 first downs to Arkansas’ 7, controlled the ball for 43:25 of the 60 minutes, ran 89 plays to the Hogs’ 37 and had 537 yards of total offense while allowing 248. Out of 10 possessions, the ‘Cocks scored on eight, lost another on a fumble at the Arkansas 12 and had to punt once deep in their end.

The “Crip” Hall Award, named for a former Arkansas secretary of state and longtime Hog supporter, goes to the stop senior performer in the homecoming game, as voted on by the media. Defensive end Chris Smith was Saturday’s winner. Smith, from Mount Ulla, N.C., had seven total tackles and four unassisted tackles against the Gamecocks.

With all due respect to Smith, it was not easy for the media to single out a top performing senior out of the 17 listed on the ballot passed out before the game. Zach Hocker was an early favorite, but he only was able to kick three times all day — two kickoffs and a PAT. Linebacker Jarrett Lake and safety Eric Bennett led all UA senior tacklers with nine stops, including five solo by Lake. Bryan Jones had one solo and six total stops. Price Holmes, a walk-on linebacker, had five tackles but probably ruined his chance with a holding penalty on a kickoff, just a few moments before Allen’s pick. Robert Thomas had 3 stops and suffered a broken leg later in the game. Linebacker Austin Jones had one tackle.

For future consideration however, freshman defensive tackle Darius Philon had three tackles for 11 yards on losses, while freshman end Deatrich Wise had a sack and a fumble recovery. Junior punter Sam Irwin-Hill boomed a 79-yarder that flipped the field while the game was still in doubt in the second quarter, though Arkansas couldn’t take advantage.

Arkansas has only SEC opponents in October and November, the typical months that the UA schedules its homecoming game. South Carolina definitely was the wrong team to schedule, with the 52-7 loss being the worst defeat suffered by the Hogs in a homecoming game since homecoming started being celebrated in 1922.

The worst homecoming loss in Razorback history came in 1945, when the Hogs lost 45-0 to Texas A&M. The worst homecoming loss for the Razorbacks since joining the SEC was to Tennessee in 1995, 49-35.

It was also the second worst SEC loss at home behind last year’s 52-0 thumping at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.

Arkansas and South Carolina entered the SEC together in football in 1992 and were immediately set as annual cross-division rivals. For several years, SEC teams had two cross-division annual foes, and when that was trimmed to one, the Gamecocks remained the Hogs’ yearly East Division rival. That all ends beginning next year, when Missouri becomes the Razorbacks’ annual cross-division rival and South Carolina pairs up with Texas A&M. Arkansas finished with a 13-9 edge over South Carolina in head-to-head meetings as cross-division rivals, with South Carolina winning the last two games. The next time they’ll meet will be six years from now part of the usual rotation of teams from the opposite division, at least as long as the SEC plays eight league games. South Carolina’s previous biggest win over Arkansas before Saturday was a 39-13 thumping of Danny Ford’s 1997 team in Little Rock. Arkansas opened SEC play with a 45-7 win over South Carolina in 1992.

Like the saying says, some days you’re the windshield, and some days you’re the bug, and we know what the Hogs were Saturday. They  had an assortment of plays go wrong for them to lead to such a disaster, but the worst two were at the end of big offensive plays in the second half. Keon Hatcher broke loose on a reverse, stumbled when it appeared he’d score, then was caught after 50 yards and lost the ball before he was down, turning it back over the Gamecocks. Later, Arkansas covered 74 of 75 yards in just two runs, a 45-yarder by Jonathan Williams through the right side and then a 29-yarder by Alex Collins going around the left. But Collins lost the ball just short of the left pylon on his carry and the ball was ruled a touchback after a fumble, again giving the ball to the ‘Cocks.

There were other similar plays in the first half as well were Arkansas would be on the verge of making a nice defensive stop or recover a fumble, then on the next play the Hogs would give up a big gain to South Carolina. The Hogs managed to force just one turnover Saturday, a fumble recovered by Deatrich Wise, while suffering 3 turnovers. Arkansas has 8 takeaways for the season and 11 giveaways.

Brandon Allen took all the blame. “That’s on me,” he said afterward in discussing the interceptions the past three weeks that have either gone for an opposing touchdown or, as on Saturday, set up an easy score. This time, sophomore receiver D’Arthur Cowan ran a hitch route and South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton sat on the route and picked Allen at the Hogs’ 29, taking it back to the UA 6 before Alex Collins brought him down. Allen said Cowan ran the correct route and the South Carolina defender simply made an outstanding play. Apparently, ESPN commentators thought Cowan had not run the correct route or broken his route off, but both Bielema and Allen said it was run correctly, just thrown incorrectly.

And Hampton said, “It was a formation that I had seen on film. I ‘d seen them run it quite a bit, that same route. It was one of those preparation things. It just happened to happen.”

“I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told our team: Today is a day that you have to put in the memory bank and vow that you’ll never let it happen again, as a head coach, as an assistant coach, as a coordinator, as a player, second string, third string. Just unacceptable. I apologize to the homecoming crowd. Obviously, they came out and wanted a good show. I thought our guys showed up and were ready to play. Once again we were hit by a little adversity and we weren’t able to get over that speed bump.” — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema

“They’re not as strong of a team as they were when they were kicking our tails the last three times I’ve been in here, but Bret [Bielema] and his guys need to recruit their way out of it. It’s going to take a little time, as we all know. But our guys played very well. I’m really proud of them. Now, can we play like this, or even close to this, when we go to Knoxville next week?” — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier

“Sometimes this is all a little misleading. We’re not this good and they’re not that bad, but it really worked out for us today.” — Spurrier

Arkansas (3-4) travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face No. 1 ranked and two-time defending national champion Alabama on Saturday in a 6 p.m. game to be televised by the ESPN networks. The following week, Arkansas will enjoy its first open date since opening the season.

Again, you can listen to Arkansas players, Chris Smith, Brandon Allen, Kiero Small, Deatrich Wise and Jarrett Lake, as well as head coach Bret Bielema on the loss Saturday. Fantastic and honest assessments from them all about the “unacceptable” day of play.


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