FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 22 Arkansas earned its first SEC win of the season Saturday and improved to 5-2 overall with its 34-30 victory against 12th-ranked Ole Miss.
Here’s a quick look at how the Hogs grade out from the victory.
The offense moved the ball well. The Hogs rushed for more than 200 yards, with Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley gaining 180 and 65 yards, respectively. That duo is becoming quite formidable in the Razorbacks backfield.
Quarterback Austin Allen once again was effective, passing for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wide receiver Keon Hatcher came up with a pair of clutch catches on the game-winning drive.
The offensive line had its problems again — Allen was sacked 3 times — but the much-maligned unit did play better than it has most of the season. Perhaps there is hope for the O-line after all.
The defense wasn’t perfect Saturday. The Hogs allowed some big plays and safeties Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell missed tackles on two of the Rebels’ touchdowns. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly rushed for 99 yards and 2 scores, continuing a troubling trend when the Hogs face mobile quarterbacks.
But the defense played well at key moments, none more important than the final two Ole Miss offensive drives. The Rebels couldn’t muster a first down on either.
Special teams: A
By golly, Arkansas has found a kicker. Senior Adam McFain drilled field-goal attempts from 43 and 36 yards, finally shoring up an aspect that had become such a liability with Cole Hedlund.
Connor Limpert recorded touchbacks on two of his seven kickoffs, showing continued improvement.
And of course, there is punter Toby Baker, who should be considered for the Ray Guy Award. He averaged 46.2 yards on 5 punts, with 3 landing inside the Ole Miss 20-yard line.
Last week, Arkansas’ crowd showed up and was loud before Alabama quickly took control of the game. You couldn’t have blamed the Razorbacks faithful for coming into the Ole Miss game a little less enthusiastic.
But Hog fans didn’t do that. They were louder than they’ve been all season. So loud, even, that cornerback DJ Dean couldn’t hear an official warning him that he was offsides, a penalty that nullified an interception.
Williams III said of the crowd, “Our crowd, they’re one of the best in the country for sure. My ears were starting to hurt and this is our home crowd. I’m proud of these guys for showing out like they did.”
Arkansas showed tremendous resilience after the deflating Alabama loss, and even when Ole Miss seized the momentum in the fourth quarter. All of a sudden, the Hogs look like a team that could win nine or 10 games.
That’s on the coaches. These guys refused to let their players stay down.
Arkansas secured an impressive victory against a really good Ole Miss team. This Rebels squad could have been undefeated entering the game, considering their blown leads against Florida State and Alabama.
Arkansas left some things on the field. Fewer mistakes and this game wouldn’t have been that close.