Paul Rhoads has been around college football offenses longer than almost any other coach on the Arkansas staff. He’s seen a good running back or two in his 30 years.
Rhoads, now the secondary coach for the Razorbacks, is the former head coach at Iowa State, where he was also a linebackers and secondary coach in the late 1990s. In that time he coached a Heisman Trophy finalist in Troy Davis, who still is the only player in Division I history to run for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Rhoads also faced Ricky Williams, who was then at Texas. On Saturday, he gets his first look at this era’s Williams (or perhaps Ron Dayne) in LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
Arkansas has stalled Fournette each of the last two seasons. In two career games against the Razorbacks, Fournette has 100 yards on 24 carries. That’s it. Hardly remarkable stuff. Rhoads and his staff are tasked with keeping that average going and he was asked how, exactly, the team does that this weekend.
“I think (defensive coordinator Robb Smith) being a part of both those games and knowing the plan and knowing what they were doing and what they did is certainly a piece that has impact on what we’re putting together,” Rhoads said. “I think the outlier on that is Steve Ensminger taking over as the play-caller and what has changed since then. You’ve got to change and adjust with those things.”
Ensminger was promoted to quarterbacks coach/OC when Ed Orgeron took over for Les Miles earlier this season. He wasn’t the guy calling plays the last time Arkansas and LSU met. Not that it matters all that much on a surface level. What’s important for LSU’s offense last year — and the year before — is what’s important to LSU’s offense this year: the running game.
Fournette entered the year as the favorite for the Heisman, but he missed three games with an ankle injury and has been removed from that conversation. The injury hasn’t hampered his production when he plays, though, as he has 705 yards on just 100 carries this season. Only Alabama, which limited him to 35 yards last week, has stopped him.
Other than Arkansas, anyway. The trick is doing it again. Just don’t ask Rhoads do repeat Iowa State’s game plan from 1998 against Texas. Williams ran for 350 yards and 5 touchdowns that week. He’s the best Rhoads has ever seen.
“He embarrassed us.”
History was made Tuesday night
No. Not the first female president or the first reality-show-famous president.
It doesn’t mean much of anything, but it’s finally happened: Arkansas is ranked in the College Football Playoff Top 25.
News broke minutes before defensive players and coaches entered the basement meeting room of the Fred W. Smith Football Center for media availability on Tuesday night. It happened so quickly, in fact, neither players nor media had time to bring it up.
What it does mean, though, is that Arkansas is receiving respect again, even just 10 or so days after getting its doors blown off against Auburn. Handling Florida the way it did, it seems the committee thinks the Razorbacks’ loss to the Tigers was a mere blip on the radar.
With three games remaining — all three winnable — it’s conceivably No. 25 won’t be the highest the team goes this season.
- The national powerhouse Arkansas indoor track and field team released its schedule on Tuesday. The Randal Tyson Center will host the Razorbacks’ first event of the year, the Arkansas Invitational, on Jan. 13.
- Arkansas volleyball will host its second ranked opponent of the year on Wednesday when No. 24 Kentucky visits Barnhill Arena. The Wildcats are tied for third in the SEC with an 11-2 record, while Arkansas is 3-9, tied for 12th.
- Three Arkansas cross country runners picked up awards at the end of the season, it was announced Tuesday. Sophomore Devin Clark is Scholar Athlete of the Year, Abby Gray was Freshman of the Year and coach Lance Harter was Coach of the Year, the 17th time he’s won the honor.
- On the men’s side, Alex George was SEC Runner of the Year, Carter Persyn was Freshman of the Year, and Jack Bruce, Frankline Tonui and Andrew Ronoh all claimed spots on the All-SEC first-team. Coach Chris Bucknam was Coach of the Year.
- What’re the five things to pay attention to against LSU? Our Jason Kersey gives his take.
- Toby Baker, Arkansas’ punter, was named a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy on Tuesday. The award is given to the best player in the nation who began his career as a walk-on.
- A detailed look at some next-level stats on the Arkansas basketball team by WholeHogSports’ Jimmy Carter. Pretty good read here.
- LSU is getting some players back in time for the Arkansas game, writes our Nick Suss.
- Also this:
STAY GOLDEN, @kidkeuchy!
— Razorback Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) November 9, 2016
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
The election happened.