The Hogs and the week ahead

The Rebels will return to practice today with a little more physicality and a lot more focus on this week’s opponent than would normally be in a Sunday workout.

We will hear a little more on the status of freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche at tomorrow’s presser. Hugh Freeze was hopeful that Nkemdiche (hamstring) would return for the Arkansas game.

Safety Cody Prewitt draws a crowd at practice last week during a visit from a local youth team.

Safety Cody Prewitt draws a crowd at practice last week during a visit from a local youth team.

Arkansas will arrive at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium reeling with six straight losses, all within the SEC. After playing Texas A&M to a 45-33 home loss in its SEC opener, Arkansas’ closest margin of defeat has been 18 points. That came last night against Auburn, a 35-17 loss also in Fayetteville.

In two games prior the Razorbacks gave up 104 points, 52 each time to South Carolina and Alabama.

Let’s take a look at the Auburn game since it’s the most recent body of work.

Auburn, second in the SEC in rushing offense in conference games, rushed for 233 yards. Arkansas, sixth in the same statistical category, rushed for 222.

Ole Miss is averaging 137 rushing yards against the league, 10th in the SEC statistics. The Rebels have improved greatly since the Alabama and Auburn games, and Arkansas hasn’t been very good at stopping the run.

Running the football is what Bret Bielema does. The Razorbacks have struggled to pass and to score. They are averaging 13.4 points against the league and giving up 42.8, last in both categories.

Last night Arkansas was down 28-3 in the third quarter but rallied to close the gap to 28-17. The first touchdown was set up by an 87-yard kick return by Korliss Marshall. The second touchdown came as the Hogs drove 73 yards, also in the third quarter. In the first quarter Arkansas drove 58 yards and kicked a field goal and in the second drove 73 yards and turned the ball over on downs.

The Razorbacks had a week off going into the Auburn game and had the added story line of Gus Malzahn’s return to Arkansas, though I can’t imagine that had any affect on the existing Arkansas staff or players.

The few plays that I was able to see plus the numbers I think indicate a team that as of last night was still playing hard.

Arkansas is 3-6 overall, 0-5 in SEC play. The wins have come against Louisiana-Lafayette, against Samford — when the Razorbacks trailed 21-17 after three quarters — and against Southern Miss.

The Razorbacks led 24-7 at Rutgers with 8:52 left in the third but lost 28-24. Rutgers is 5-3 overall with wins against Norfolk State, Eastern Michigan, SMU (3 OT) and Temple.

Ole Miss is 5-3 overall, 2-3 in the SEC and needs one more win for bowl eligibility.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • The Ghost of Col. Reb

    Don’t overlook this team like we did Auburn. Ole Miss will have to play their best game of the year with the Hogs’ backs against the wall. All bets are off, Ark will be looking to lay someone out.

    • Killer_Beeze

      You don’t want to ‘overlook’ any SEC team.

      Arkansas’ “D” sux but their running game is not bad. Alex Collins is a very talented (4 star) freshman running back. He can put some moves on defenders and take it to the house. Still, I think Ole Miss wins this one big and then buries Troy and goes into the Mizzou showdown with a 7-3 record.

      Ole Miss is favored by 17 points ‘gainst the Hogs.

      Saw this joke posted the other day on another blog:
      What do you call it when a Razorback injures his groin?

      • The Ghost of Col. Reb

        LOL good one

        • Killer_Beeze

          What is the shower in the Razorback locker room called?
          The Hog Wash

  • Lee814

    I agree that OM does not need to overlook Arkansas, but I am not sure they overlooked Auburn. Auburn is 8-1, including a win at A&M. Auburn is playing good football. It will be interesting to see how they do the next few weeks. If they continue to play well, the Iron Bowl may be a good game.

    • The Ghost of Col. Reb

      They weren’t 8-1 when OM played them. They were a team coming off a 3 win season with a new coach who hadn’t had very long to recruit. OM was favored heavily. Freeze played nice guy with his buddy, but Malzon knows Auburn won’t accept a 8-4/7-5 season. We are just glad to get to a bowl each year or beat state, whichever year it is.

      • Mike

        The closing odds vs Auburn was -3. I don’t think -3 is “heavily favored”. -23 would be heavily favored. But maybe our definitions are different.

        • The Ghost of Col. Reb

          It was -10 at one time Mike. Favored or not, OM should have been further along in the journey than Auburn….in my opinion.

          • Lee814

            You might think that, but you have to remember how far down OM had went. OM had two horrible years on the field and more than that with recruiting. The last two years OM did good on the field was with recruits from the previous coach. OM had a great recruiting class last year, but the year before that, I believe it was ranked 40th by rivals. The previous years were in the 20’s. Auburn, on the other hand, was horrible just one year on the field, and still managed good recruiting classes because of their history. In 2010 Auburn went 14-0 (winning the national championship) and 8-5 in 2011. According to rivals, their recruiting classes were ranked 4th in 2010, 7th in 2011, 10th in 2012, and 8th this year, even with the horrible season they had last year. Auburn already had the players in place, they just needed good coaching. OM had (and still has) a LOT longer journey than Auburn, but I believe Freeze is the coach to get it done.

          • Mike

            And Malzhan helped recruit most of the guys on that team. He was only away from Auburn one year and he already had a lot of the pieces in place. I still think Bama kicks their tail in the Iron Bowl this year.

          • The Ghost of Col. Reb

            Very valid points by both. I do believe in coach freeze, too.

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