Four Downs: Arkansas Preparing For Ole Miss’ Up Tempo Offense


1. Fast Pace Rebels

Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said Ole Miss will provide a difficult test for his defense in one regard Saturday. The Rebels won’t waste any time moving from play to play in an up tempo offense run by Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.

“They’re kind of like the Oregon style offense,” Haynes said during a speaking appearance at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. “They really want to get to about 100 plays in the game. A lot of times there’s really no rhyme and reason to what they’re doing. They just sit there and they figure the more plays they run, they’re going to get a big play here or there. You’ll see them running plays into blitzes. … Why are they doing that? They just want to get plays off.”

It has led to success for Ole Miss, which enters Saturday’s game ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference in total offense (440.7 yards a game) and sixth in scoring (32.7 points). It included a 41-point effort in its last game against Auburn, which helped the Rebels grab their first SEC win since early in the 2010 season.

So Arkansas has spent the two weeks trying to prepare. Especially after the Razorbacks struggled against the last up-tempo offense they faced. Texas A&M piled up 715 yards during its 58-10 win against the Razorbacks late last month.

“I think our scout team has given us a good look,” Arkansas safety Ross Rasner said Wednesday. “They’re rushing the ball right after the snap. And we’re getting the call in quick from the sideline. We just have to get lined up. We can’t let them run a play where we’re misaligned. So I’d say just the pace of practice has picked up.”

Rasner said Ole Miss is capable of reeling off 10 straight run plays with the spread option, then mix in a play-action pass. Haynes said the Rebels do a good job of getting players in space, too, forcing defenders to make one-on-one tackles.

So he said Arkansas must be ready to read and react quickly against the Rebels.

“If you watched the (Arkansas State) game (Tuesday) night, or you’ve watched Oregon, then you’ve watched Ole Miss,” Haynes said. “That’s really what they are.

“They’re fast-paced, they’re going to try to get a ton of plays and it’s going to be fast.”

2. Smith’s Mistake

Defensive end Chris Smith was arrested three days before Arkansas’ 49-7 win against Kentucky after failing to appear in court for an unpaid speeding ticket.

The junior spoke with the media for the first time since the arrest after Wednesday’s practice and described the incident as a mistake.

“I forgot to pay a ticket four months ago and I had to suffer the consequences,” Smith said. “Me and the coach talked it over. We straightened everything out.”

Arkansas coach John L. Smith said after the arrest Smith would be disciplined for the issue, but it would not include a suspension. Smith, who has 3 1/2 sacks this season, started against Kentucky and logged one tackle.

“I’m very thankful,” Smith said.

3. Long On Search

Former NFL coach Jon Gruden has been a popular name from fans on Internet message boards and talk radio shows in regard to the Arkansas job. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long didn’t provide any fuel to that speculation becoming reality, though, during an interview on “Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly” on Tuesday.

Long, in response to a question about the search, said he “would think” Arkansas’ next coach is currently employed elsewhere. When asked later in the radio interview to clarify, Long was a little more specific: “I think they’ll be a coach who is coaching and working in college or professional football.”

Gruden is an ESPN NFL analyst, working most notably during the network’s Monday Night Football telecasts. He last coached with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008.

4. Extra Points

Haynes said defensive tackle D.D. Jones, who missed the Kentucky game because of fatigued legs, will be available for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss. “He has been doing a good job for us in practice,” Haynes said. … Former Razorback James Rouse will serve as the honorary captain for Saturday’s game. Rouse rushed for 2,887 yards on 559 carries. His rushing total ranks sixth on the school’s all-time list.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau