GIMME FIVE — KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME
1. Handle The Tempo
Arkansas faces another no-huddle offense and this one is expected to move at a quicker pace than its previous two opponents. So being prepared for Southern Miss’ tempo will be critical. Arkansas must line up quickly, pick up play calls and react.
2. Curb Mental Errors
Arkansas got a good look at what leads to losses last week. Two turnovers and a handful of costly and careless penalties put the Razorbacks in a tight spot. Cleaning up those types of mental mistakes has been an emphasis in practice this week.
3. Run, Run, Run
It’s no secret Arkansas’ run game will be key after the past two weeks. But staying on the field, chewing up yards and eating up clock could be especially vital today. It’s the best solution for keeping USM’s no-huddle from stressing Arkansas’ defense.
4. Force USM Mistakes
Southern Miss has been careless during its two games, committing an NCAA-high 10 turnovers. So Arkansas knows there’s a big opportunity to add to the frustrations. The Razorbacks didn’t force a turnover last week, but aim to make up for it today.
5. No Lulls
Arkansas started fast last week. The Razorbacks finished strong, too. But they struggled in between and it made the Samford game tighter than expected. The same can happen today if Arkansas fails to take control early and stay in charge.
TODAY’S KEY MATCHUP
Arkansas CB Tevin Mitchel (6-0, 180, Jr.)
Key Statistics: 8 tackles in 2013; 98 tackles, 1 INT in career
Mitchel and the Arkansas secondary will be busy with a Southern Miss offense planning to spread the field with four wide receivers. The Golden Eagles are expected to throw an array of quick passes and screens to the perimeter, leaving cornerbacks and safeties in their share of one-on-one tackling situations. But they’ll also test the Hogs vertically with big-play threat Rickey Bradley. Mitchel and his teammates know a big test awaits, but insist they are ready for the challenge.
Southern Miss WR Rickey Bradley (6-2, 204, Sr.)
Key Statistics: 10 catches, 250 yards, TD in two games
Rickey Bradley is in his first season with the program after transferring from Pearl River (Miss.) Community College. The redshirt senior has wasted no time showing he’s a talented player. Bradley has been pulled in USM’s three biggest plays this season (65, 59 and 41 yard catches) and ranks 13th in the nation in receiving yards a game (125.0). Bradley has teamed with freshman Tyre’Oune Holmes (20 catches, 161 yards) to form a duo that will keep Arkansas’ secondary on high alert.
EDGE: Arkansas CB Tevin Mitchel
Passing Yds (NCAA Rank)
Arkansas 177.5 (92nd)
Southern Miss 299.5 (T-28th)
Arkansas 312.5 (11th)
Southern Miss 42.5 (123rd)
Arkansas 490.0 (36th)
Southern Miss 342.0 (94th)
Passing Yds (NCAA Rank)
Arkansas 154.0 (23rd)
Southern Miss 164.0 (T-27th)
Arkansas 98.5 (25th)
Southern Miss 179.0 (81st)
Arkansas 252.5 (15th)
Southern Miss 343.0 (49th)
UA’s Brandon Allen has thrown 5 TD passes without an interception through 2 games. He is averaging 177.5 passing yards a game; Cal transfer Allan Bridgford has had interception trouble (5), but is averaging 299.5 yards in two starts.
Freshman Alex Collins leads the SEC and is 6th in the nation in rushing yards a game (151.5). Teammate Jonathan Williams is 3rd and 12th (138.5 yards); USM has only managed 85 rushing yards in two games. Kendrick Hardy has a team-high 62.
UA’s Javontee Herndon is solidifying his place as Brandon Allen’s go-to WR with his 3rd TD catch last week. But he needs help; USM’s duo of Tyre’oune Holmes (20 catches, 161 yards) and Rickey Bradley (10 catches, 250 yards) has produced.
Edge: Southern Miss
The Arkansas line flexed its muscle in the fourth quarter once again, paving the way for 163 yards. It included a 13-play drive – all runs – that ate the final 7:35 off the clock; USM’s line has only one player (G Ed Preston) with double-digit starts.
DE Trey Flowers (knee) will return from a one-game absence. DT Robert Thomas enjoyed his best game vs. Samford (1 ½ sacks, 3 ½ TFLs); USM’s interior tandem of Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Khyri Thornton has collected 15 ½ career TFLs.
LB Braylon Mitchell earned his first start last week and has a team-high 15 tackles, Jarrett Lake will return from one-game suspension; USM LB Alan Howze has started 14 straight games. Howze led team in tackles in 2012 and has 18 through 2 games.
UA S Alan Turner (12 tackles) is expected to start his third straight game with sophomore Rohan Gaines still recovering from a knee injury; USM S DeBarriaus Miller collected a career-high 14 tackles in last week’s loss to Nebraska.
OVERALL: Arkansas 35, Southern Miss 14
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau