FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas will try to bounce back from its loss to No. 1 Alabama this weekend when it hosts Ole Miss at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Razorbacks (4-2, 0-2 SEC) beat the Rebels last season 53-52 in overtime.
Here is a look at 5 key things for Arkansas fans to watch Saturday night:
5. Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley
Williams averaged 111.8 yards over the Hogs’ first five games of the season but was limited to just 46 last week against Alabama. Arkansas coaches have slowly tried to work Whaley — a true freshman with huge potential — into the rotation over the last several weeks and he has shown flashes of his capabilities.
After a game in which the Hogs averaged a season-low 2.0 yards per carry, Arkansas needs to get the run game going against Ole Miss. The Rebels defense has surrendered 215.4 yards per game on the ground, and Arkansas rushed for 222 yards and 4 touchdowns last season against Ole Miss.
4. Arkansas’ offensive line
… Arkansas’ offensive line was substantially better last season when it faced Ole Miss. The Hog O-line has clearly been a problem throughout this season, whether Bret Bielema wants to admit it or not.
Arkansas is now halfway through the season, and there hasn’t been any significant improvement up front on offense. By this point, I’m beginning to wonder why coaches won’t give guys such as Zach Rogers, Johnny Gibson and Jalen Merrick an opportunity.
3. De’Jon Harris
The true freshman’s time is now. Many believed Harris would contribute some this season and help solve the linebacker depth problem. To this point in the season, he really hasn’t been in on many snaps that weren’t mop-up duty.
That all changes now with the news that starting weak-side linebacker Dre Greenlaw is likely lost for the season with a broken foot.
Harris has been listed all season as Brooks Ellis’ backup at middle linebacker, but it’s pretty apparent that Harris has been Arkansas coaches’ No. 3 linebacker, regardless of specific position.
Everyone around the Arkansas program believes Harris has a bright future ahead of him, even if no one expected that he’d be thrust into this kind of role as a true freshman.
And now, he’s playing a vitally important role on a defense that has a lot to figure out. Is he up for the challenge? We’ll soon find out.
2. Chad Kelly
Kelly is the best quarterback in the SEC. His dual-threat abilities make him particularly dangerous for an Arkansas defense seemingly incapable of handling a mobile quarterback.
Last season against the Razorbacks, Kelly rushed for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns while also passing for 368 yards and 3 scores.
For the mathematically challenged, that’s 6 total touchdowns.
1. Arkansas resilience
Following the Razorbacks’ first loss of the season to Texas A&M, they had Alcorn State the next week to beat up on and regain some confidence. After the Hogs’ second loss, they are immediately tossed back into a grueling SEC West schedule against a very talented Ole Miss team.
How will Arkansas respond to last week’s loss? Will the Razorbacks finish this season strong like they have the last two?
The answer to both of those questions will come Saturday night in Fayetteville.