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.
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.