Some things in this world make no sense to me.
Things like race-walking, people who don’t like the taste of bacon, Star Wars geeks (Truth be told: I’m a geek myself, but not for that movie). Also: Las Vegas.
I just don’t understand, for the life of me, how the brainiacs in that town can get things so, so, so right practically all the time. Or maybe it just seems like all the time on the games in which I choose to friendly wager.
When Auburn opened as a nine-point favorite Sunday afternoon over Arkansas, almost everyone in this state had the same gut reaction — “Oh, gimme that right now.” Even me. I’m hardly a Hogs homer, and for the record, I would never actually bet a game I cover. But play-wager? Absolutely. The line is oozing goodness as Arkansas, with its No. 17 ranking versus Auburn’s No. 21, figured to perhaps be a small underdog, but not a nearly two-score one. After all, the Razorbacks’ two losses have come to the top-ranked and sixth-ranked teams in the country. No one else has beaten them.
Yet, there’s Auburn, favored handily. The Tigers have been something of an overachiever themselves and their two losses are nothing at which to sneeze either (Clemson and Texas A&M). They are the third-best running team in the SEC and have the fourth-best scoring defense. What’s been overlooked, though, is Auburn’s passing.
That has to be it. No, the Tigers won’t terrify anyone with their middle-of-the-pack standing in passing yards per game, but when it comes to efficiency, Auburn has apparently figured it out — it has the third-best passer rating in the SEC.
So, the Tigers are unlikely to make mistakes. If that continues, and they don’t, they’ll win.
I’m just not sure it’ll be by more than nine points.
Of course, I just lost my last six games picked against the spread, too, so I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Long-time readers, whether here or at my previous stop, know I’m a Khalia Hackett fan. I like his skill-set, I like his personality. The junior linebacker has always looked the part of being an SEC regular. His instincts have kept him from reaching that, though, even after several opportunities.
Now, he will have another. Hackett was listed as the starting strong-side linebacker when the Arkansas depth chart was released Monday.
Now, it should be noted that technically doesn’t mean a whole lot. Arkansas rolls two linebackers a good 99 percent of the time (literally about 99 percent) and they’re most often the middle and weak-side listed starters. But it’s a good return up the ranks for a guy who clearly has the potential to make an impact going forward, especially after being completely removed from the travel team earlier this year.
Good luck, brother.
Also on D
Remember, Arkansas will be without safety De’Andre Coley for the first half against the Tigers this weekend after he was rightfully ejected for a targeting penalty in the second half of the Hogs’ win over Ole Miss on Saturday. You can see it in the video below.
Coley hit the receiver’s head and hit it first. Targeting.
The onus now rests with two guys back there, as really, Arkansas can only run three total players at safety (note: Reid Miller did see some time after Coley was ejected, but he hasn’t appeared to be in the long-term plans).
Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell, a sophomore and junior, have to hold down the fort. They did against Ole Miss, as Liddell bounced back from a brutal game against Alabama to record a team-high 9 tackles against the Rebels and Ramirez’s forced fumble on the last Ole Miss play of the game sealed the Arkansas win.
Tackling will be huge against the Tigers’ pair of stellar running backs and an offensive that is likely to try, once or twice, to go way downfield.
Per usual, keep your eyes back there.
- Jeremy Sprinkle’s foot is in a boot, but don’t fear. He is expected to be back at practice later this week and unlikely to miss the game this weekend, writes our Jason Kersey.
- As I mentioned Monday, Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium was loud Saturday. According to Santos Ramirez, it was maybe the factor in the Hogs’ win.
- Bret Bielema understood the targeting call on De’Andre Coley from Saturday, but when Austin Allen was lassoed around the neck, that should be a penalty, too. Jimmy Carter at WholeHogSports takes a look.
- Rawleigh Williams III was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week, which is impressive. His 180 yards rushing were the most for a Razorbacks player in an SEC game since 2010.
- According to Arkansas Fight, the Hogs’ SB Nation site, it was the offensive line and secondary returning to decency that helped most of all in Arkansas beating Ole Miss.
I love baseball in the spring time. I love baseball in the fall …
Speaking of those diamond Hogs, they played their first Fall World Series game Monday. Basically what that is is a best-of-five intrasquad scrimmage, though more competitive than some of the ones earlier this autumn.
Gray beat Cardinal, 6-3, in 10 innings.
That doesn’t really mean anything without context. Really, it doesn’t mean anything even with context. Accordingly, here are a few meaningful items:
- Carson Shaddy is playing second base and catcher. Figure he’s more likely to play the former, although he came to campus as the latter. He can also play all three outfield spots and third base, too. He led the team last year in batting average, hits and runs, and tied for the team lead in home runs.
- Five outfielders — for now — are playing for three spots (plus one of them will be the designated hitter). Luke Bonfield is guaranteed one of those four roles in the lineup. Chad Spanberger is likely for another, at least to start the season; his hot/cold streaks will determine how long that holds. Eric Cole, Jake Arledge and Jack Benninghoff fight for the other two spots. And that doesn’t include freshman Dominic Fletcher, who is, for my money, the best freshman on the roster.
- Spanberger could also play first base now. Austin Catron has been missing from the team this fall (which is something I’ll have to ask coach Dave Van Horn about next chance) and he was the starter at DH last year early before seeing only spot duty down the stretch. His position was first base when he played the field and he figured to be in line for, at worst, a platoon there. Instead, Spanberger could move to the infield, though he’ll have to outshine freshman Jordan McFarland, who turned down the pros, to do it.
We’ll talk pitching on Wednesday. Here’s the schedule if you want to head out to Baum Stadium for the rest of the series:
2016 Razorback Fall World Series Schedule
Game 1 – Gray 6, Cardinal 3 (Gray leads 1-0)
Game 2 – Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m.
Game 3 – Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m.
Game 4 – Friday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 5 – Saturday, Oct. 22 at Noon (if necessary)
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
This one isn’t funny. It’s scary. And gross.
A federal judge accused of exchanging lighter sentences for nude photos and sexual favors was indicted Monday on bribery and fraud charges.