Ole Miss Beat Down in Fayetteville!

Tonight’s game was nothing short of a beat down.  With 14:15 on the clock in the 3rd quarter, the score was 42 to 6, and Arkansas had just scored yet another touchdown in the opening 45 seconds of the 2nd half.   By half time, Rocket Sanders had rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns.  KJ Jefferson had thrown three touchdown passes and the defense had forced two turnovers.  One would have thought Ole Miss was an FCS school given their pitiful first half performance.  Ole Miss is quite the opposite.  Ranked 14th in the country, they were expected to come in and win a tough game on the road.  Instead, they were blown out by their northern rival.


The KJ Jefferson Effect

KJ Jefferson’s mere presence on the field changes the whole offensive dynamic.  First and foremost, he has a calming effect on the team.  He leads, the offense follows.  Second, he is very efficient with the football.  He is decisive with his throws.  If it isn’t there, he will run for it or throw the ball away.  He avoids the big mistake.  He isn’t frenetic in the pocket.  He calmly goes thru his reads, decides, and executes.


First Quarter Dominance

The Arkansas defense set the tone for Saturday night.  During Ole Miss’s opening drive, Drew Sanders recovered a fumble.  Arkansas failed to capitalize on the first turnover.  However, when the defense forced Ole Miss to punt, the Razorbacks drove down the field, converting their first 3rd and long with a 20-yard connection to Trey Knox.  A few plays later Jefferson throws his first touchdown of the game to Matt Landers.  The Razorbacks defense forced another punt.  The Arkansas offense answered with an 8-play drive culminating in a 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers.  Jefferson’s ball dropped right over Lander’s shoulder.  It was a beautiful         over-the-shoulder catch.


Rocket Sanders Blasts Off!

Fast forward to 4:38 left in the second quarter.  The score was 21 to 6 and Rocket Sanders only had 8 carries in the game.  His longest carry at this point was a 28 yarder late in the first quarter.  It was time for Rocket to take over.  Coach Pittman must have yelled at Coach Briles and said something to the effect of, “tell Rocket to run that dang ball down their throats!”  During Arkansas’s next drive Rocket carried for 2 yards, 7 yards, 1 yard, 15 yards, 32 yards, 8 yards and a 20-yard touchdown.  The 32 yarder was a touchdown that was called back due to a wider receiver holding call.  Then Drew Sanders intercepted the ball four plays into Ole Miss’s next possession. Rocket Sanders went right back to work. He touched the ball four times on the next drive (two rushes and two receptions), scoring on an 8-yard rush.

Coach Briles called a masterful end of half possession, bleeding the clock out while giving his team an opportunity to score.  In fact, with 15 seconds to go and one time out left, Coach Briles made a gutsy call to give the ball to Rocket.  He knew that the offensive line would win and he trusted his back to get the score.  The half time score was 35 to 6.


The Rest of the Story

The game essentially ended 45 seconds into the 2nd quarter when Rocket Sanders ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run.  Then, two plays later Dwight McGlothern ripped the ball away from Quinshon Judkins taking the air out of the Ole Miss team.  The rest of the game was a lot of given and take between the two rivals.  Ole Miss was able to get a few more scores on the Razorback 2nd teamers in the secondary.  But the game was already over.

Rocket Sanders joins Darren McFadden as the only other Arkansas running back that rushed for over 200 yards against a ranked team.  Rocket Sanders ended the day with 232 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns.


Current Effects and Future Considerations

Arkansas needs to think long and hard about who will replace KJ Jefferson when he graduates.  It’s hard to believe that the quarterback of the future is on the roster given how the Razorbacks have performed with anyone but KJ Jefferson under center.  If Coach Briles sticks around another season, perhaps that will attract another dynamic signal caller.

Arkansas is bowl eligible for the third year in a row.  They become bowl eligible during senior night.  It was special for all those seniors who have contributed to the past and current success of the Razorbacks.  It is unfortunate the injuries and inconsistent play hampered their season.  They have lost a couple of close games that they should not have.  Hopefully they can end the season with a win against Missouri next week.  Go Razorbacks!

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One Response

  1. Safe to say the QB of the future is not on campus. Luckily, it appears KJ will be back next year with his current NFL draft projection not being great…yet. Hogs have a 4* QB committed and will likely be searching the portal for a serviceable backup.

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