FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ bye week has arrived with the Hogs 5-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play.
At SEC Country, we’re spending the week off assessing the performance of each position group through eight games.
Here’s our breakdown of how the Hogs have performed at wide receiver so far this season:
By the numbers
2: Fourth-down receptions to keep a winning drive alive (Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss) by senior Keon Hatcher.
3: Touchdowns for Hatcher against ranked opponents, which is tied for third nationally.
5: Different Arkansas receivers with at least one touchdown catch.
41: Receptions for Drew Morgan, ranking him third in the SEC.
146: Receiving yards for junior Jared Cornelius against Alabama, the most against the Crimson Tide since 2014.
309: Receiving yards for Cornelius in October, which leads the SEC.
It’s easy to make an argument for the wide receivers as the Hogs’ best position group so far this season. They’ve proven to have an impressive combination of depth, talent, varying skill sets and a knack for making clutch plays. Hatcher, Morgan and Cornelius have led the way and are among the top receivers in the conference in several statistical categories.
Hatcher has been every bit the strong, tough and reliable target Arkansas hoped he would be coming off a foot injury that kept him out for most of the 2015 season. His play has provided some of the brightest moments in this season. He provided clutch receptions in the fourth quarter of comeback wins over Louisiana Tech, TCU and Ole Miss. Among other things, he’s also been a leader by example for the group.
Morgan, the Hogs’ leader in receptions, brings the ‘juice’ and has become a fan favorite over the past two seasons. He’s certainly a unique personality who doesn’t lack for confidence, but still consistently gives the type of effort that is second to none on the team.
Cornelius has proven to be the most versatile playmaker on the team. He had three consecutive games of at least 100 yards receiving with two of those games coming against Texas A&M and Alabama. He also stepped into the backfield and scored the winning rushing touchdown for the Hogs in a 34-30 win over Ole Miss.
Overall grade: A
The play so far of Hatcher, Morgan and Cornelius is deserving of a very-high grade. Senior Cody Hollister also has proven to be a decent performer when needed.
This grade would be an A+ if not for the shortcomings of senior Dominique Reed, who has struggled with drops and has a tendency to find himself in coach Bret Bielema’s dog house.
There was also some question as to who will be catching passes next season with so many seniors, but those concerns have been somewhat alleviated. Cornelius has proven he can lead the group in 2017, redshirt freshmen Deon Stewart and La’Michael Pettway have shown flashes of becoming capable contributors and true freshman Jordan Jones was among the most impressive young players during fall camp.