Five Keys Review
1. Defend The Option
Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss run game didn’t put up gaudy numbers Saturday, finishing with 77 yards on 37 carries. In fact, it was the third-straight game Arkansas had limited its opponent to less than 100 rushing yards this season.
But Wallace, Jeff Scott and the Rebels still found ways to hurt the Razorbacks with the run on a handful of occasions. The biggest came in the final seconds, when Wallace scrambled for a 13-yard run that put Ole Miss in position for its game-winning field goal. It was the second-longest run of the day by the Rebels.
2. Avoid Turnovers
Arkansas was turnover free in its previous game against Kentucky, but couldn’t stay clean for a second straight week. Quarterback Tyler Wilson struggled throughout much of the game and threw two interceptions – his first since the Texas A&M loss.
Wilson’s first interception came in Ole Miss territory in the first half, killing a scoring opportunity. The second was returned deep into Arkansas territory, leading to a field goal that helped Ole Miss extend its lead to 24-17.
3. Pick Up Blitzes
Wilson was under duress most of the game, taking his share of hits from Ole Miss’ aggressive defense. Arkansas had allowed just one sack in its previous three games, but surrendered three to the Rebels.
Wilson was hit hard on others. It included his 42-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Gragg in the opening minutes. Wilson bruised his hip on the play and was hit hard on the chin a little later, leaving him with plenty of bruises Saturday.
4. Run Game Success
Give Arkansas running back Dennis Johnson credit. The senior ran hard all day, setting a career-high in both carries (25) and rushing yards (161). The Razorbacks were having so much trouble in the passing game they resorted to running draws on a handful of third-down plays. Johnson delivered on many of them, too.
Johnson was the first Arkansas running back to go over the 100-yard mark this season. He also helped the Hogs grind out a season-high 167 yards. His 21- and 25-yard runs at the end of the game were impressive. The only problem: Arkansas scored too quickly, giving Ole Miss plenty of time to get the game-winning kick.
5. Sound In Secondary
Arkansas faced a passing offense much better than in its previous two games against Auburn and Kentucky. The result: Ole Miss was able to enjoy one of its better passing performances of the season Saturday.
Wallace was efficient, completing 29 of 37 passes for 278 yards with a touchdown and interception. The 29 completions were a career-high for the first-year starter. He was 4-for-5 for 47 yards on Ole Miss’ game-winning drive.
Players of the Game
Offense – RB Dennis Johnson (27 carries, 161 yards, TD)
Johnson has saved his best performance for Ole Miss, following up last year’s 160-yard effort with 161 yards in Saturday’s loss. The senior was impressive, running through tacklers, picking up first downs and gaining strength at the game went on. He turned in Arkansas’ first 100-yard rushing performance of the season and scored in his third straight game, getting the game-tying touchdown in the closing minutes.
Defense – S Ross Rasner (10 tackles, 2 TFLs, sack, interception)
The safety equaled freshman linebacker A.J. Turner for the team lead in tackles and also turned in a handful of big plays Saturday. He got one of Arkansas’ three sacks, had another tackle for loss and intercepted a pass in the first half. The interception was Rasner’s third this season, which leads the Razorbacks.
Special Teams – K Zach Hocker (2-for-2 on field goals)
Hocker has struggled on field goals (5 of 9 entering the game), but he was perfect in making 22- and 41-yard attempts Saturday. The 41-yarder also was Hocker’s season-best. The junior had been 0-for-2 from 40-plus yards this season. He also was perfect on extra points, setting the career record for extra points made (138).
3 – Number of games in which receiver Cobi Hamilton has caught 10 or more passes this season. Hamilton caught 12 for 146 yards in the Ole Miss loss, 11 for 162 against Texas A&M and 10 for 303 yards against Rutgers. He is the first person in school history to notch three games with 10 catches or more in his career.
51 – Number of points Arkansas has been outscored by in the second quarter of five losses this season. The Razorbacks led 10-0 after the first quarter Saturday, but were then outscored 21-7 in the second quarter and never regained the lead. ULM, Alabama, Rutgers, Texas A&M and Ole Miss combined to outscore Arkansas 72-21.
492 – Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson’s career completions after going 24-for-43 against Ole Miss. It moved Wilson into second on the school’s career completions chart behind former Razorback Clint Stoerner (528).
Arkansas plays another home game – this one in Fayetteville – against Tulsa on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11:21 a.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network.
Tulsa (7-1) has won seven straight games since opening the season with a 38-23 loss to Iowa State. The Golden Hurricane didn’t play last week either, giving coach Bill Blakenship and his team two weeks to prepare for the Razorbacks.
The teams will meet for the 71st time Saturday. Arkansas leads the series 53-15-2 and won the last meeting 30-23 in 2008, getting a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown from Dennis Johnson late in the third quarter and then holding on for the victory.
“It’s like it always is. I don’t expect the morale of this team to slump any. Obviously it’s a disappointing loss you want to continue to move forward and I think this team has got what it takes in order to do that. Were going to come out and battle hard next week, no question.” — Wilson on Arkansas’ motivation after another loss.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau