Jim Harris: Two-Minute Drill – Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24


Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24

Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24

The Hogs fought hard the entire 60 minutes, but a 7-minute stretch in the third quarter changed the game, and blame can be assessed to the coaches’ decision-making as well as the execution of the players. Down 20-17 but obviously possessing the momentum after a TD on the previous drive, the Hogs were at the Rebels 39 and had been exploiting the Ole Miss defense with good basic running and nice throws from Brandon Allen. But on first-and-10, play caller Jim Chaney called for trickery with a halfback pass — most likely a throwback from Jonathan Williams to Allen, from the direction Williams looked. Instead, Ole Miss had the backside covered, Williams panicked, didn’t see a running alley and was dropped for a loss of 9 yards. There went the momentum. Arkansas punted the Rebels to their 6, and five plays later Ole Miss struck for a 75-yard touchdown pass behind the UA secondary. Then, in the next series, Donte Moncrief turned a short pass into a 52-yard score by breaking a driving tackle and racing down the right sideline. Arkansas was suddenly down 17 and Ole Miss was in control again. Missed tackles were a problem at times, one personal foul penalty was critical late in the first half, and coverage breakdowns were evident all day as Arkansas gave up 419 yards passing.

Freshman Korliss Marshall has been returning kicks and supposedly working some at safety, where his talent will eventually be needed (if not already, though he hasn’t seen action there), but he was back at running back Saturday and ripped off 30 yards on his first carry. Starter Jonathan Williams showed power again all day, and freshman Alex Collins flashed his big-time moves. All three bring something different to the position, and they were key in Arkansas gaining 196 yards on the ground. None cracked the 100-yard mark, but the Arkansas rushing game averaged 5.8 yards per carry, a good number. QB Brandon Allen even added 20 yards on two carries.

Arkansas’ defense held Ole Miss to just 2.9 yards per carry rushing, an terrific number. Ole Miss was without starting running back Jeff Scott again Saturday and missed his burst of speed. Stopping the run and making Ole Miss one-dimensional would have been the ideal strategy for the defense, if only Arkansas had any semblance of a pass defense. Bo Wallace was 17 of 20 in the first half, 26 of 33 for the game, for 407 yards, and Ole Miss had 419 yards passing in all. Wallace went over the Hogs’ safeties for passes of 14 yards to Laquon Treadwell and 75 yards to Ja-Mes Winston, and he threw under the pass defense to Donte Moncrief, who took a 6-yard pass and stepped out of the ankle tackle by Tevin Mitchel to race untouched 52 yards for the final Ole Miss touchdown. By that point, late in the third quarter, the Rebels led by 17. Wallace also passed to set up a 1-yard carry by backup quarterback Barry Brunetti for the first Rebels touchdown, and Andrew Ritter kicked a pair of first-half field goals.

With all that passing, Arkansas did manage to get its hands on three passes, with safeties Alan Turner and Eric Bennett pulling in interceptions in the second half. Freshman linebacker Brooks Ellis, however, will be thinking a while about a pass he had in his hands that he dropped early in a drive that eventually led to the first Ole Miss touchdown after the game was tied at 3.

It wasn’t as bad as the South Carolina or Alabama games, when Arkansas gave up points (usually touchdowns) on eight of 10 drives in both of those matchups, but the Hogs didn’t get Ole Miss off the field enough. Ole Miss was forced to punt twice while the game was still in doubt, and once the kick was returned by Javontee Herndon to the Hogs’ 47 with Arkansas down 3, 20-17. It was the only possession Arkansas had in the second half down less than a touchdown.

Ole Miss scored points on four of five first-half possessions. After an interception and punt to start the second half, the Rebels scored on back-to-back drives to put some distance between themselves and the Hogs, then didn’t score again. In all, on 12 possessions, Ole Miss had two field goals, four touchdowns, two interceptions, three punts, and the clock to end the game.

Arkansas’ 12 possessions went like this: one field goal, three touchdowns, five punts, an interception, a missed field goal, and the clock to end the first half.

There was a lot that went wrong for Arkansas on Ole Miss’ two-minute drill before the end of the first half, but apparently the worst in Coach Bret Bielema’s eyes was the personal foul penalty incurred by tight end Jeremy Sprinkle on kick coverage after Zach Hocker had boomed the ball through the end zone with the Hogs down 13-10. Instead of starting at the 25, the Rebels opened on their 40 with 2:43 showing. The Rebs covered the 60 yards in 9 plays to lead 20-10 at halftime. Sprinkle spent the second half in street clothes on the Hogs sideline.

During the drive, Ole Miss took advantage of Arkansas’ deep cushion for its cornerbacks, converting a third-and-10 at midfield (this following timeouts by both Ole Miss and Arkansas to have the right call in place). Arkansas didn’t get the Rebels in another third down on the drive, and from the 14 on second-and-3, Arkansas went with man coverage on four receivers and a safety in the end zone for backup, sending six rushers in against Wallace. He had enough composure to fling it before DE Trey Flowers arrived, and freshman Laquon Treadwell was easily behind Eric Bennett and open for the catch, with the deeper safety, Alan Turner, unable to arrive with help.

For some unknown reason, senior receiver Julian Horton landed in the Bielema doghouse earlier this season and didn’t see the field for several games. But he reappeared last week, and on Saturday was on the receiving end of a 20-yard touchdown pass fro Brandon Allen early in the fourth quarter. Horton had a team-high four catches for 66 yards.

Allen connected with freshman tight end Hunter Henry for a 17-yard scoring pass with 2:43 left in the first half to bring the Hogs within 3, 13-10. The play was nicely setup but the Hogs running backs, and with all the Rebels concerned with the run game, nobody managed to cover Henry over the middle. The freshman had three catches for 26 yards.

Senior fullback Kiero Small scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter as Arkansas capitalized on a rare takeaway, Alan Turner’s interception at the Ole Miss 46. Allen and Javontee Turner connected on a 17-yard pass play to set up the Small touchdown.

Sophomore receiver Keon Hatcher, who has had a solid past two weeks, had a 19.3 yards-per-catch average Saturday on his three receptions and also had a 10-yard run.

“I know it’s getting frustrating, obviously, the same answer for seven games in a row, but it’s what we’re going through, it’s what reality is. I think our guys competed. There wasn’t anybody that gave up for four quarters. We just do enough things that keep us off that win column. We obviously gave up some big plays, we had some critical penalties that came back to haunt us. Until we get those things corrected, we’re not going to have success.” — UA coach Bret Bielema

Arkansas (3-7, 0-6 in SEC) has a bye for the second time in four weeks. The Hogs are next in action Nov. 23 in Little Rock against Mississippi State.

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