After Running Past South Carolina, Arkansas Welcomes a Familiar Face

Arkansas and South Carolina

Arkansas fans were awake early for their most recent challenge as South Carolina entered Fayetteville for an 11 am kickoff. The game plan for the Hogs was clear, and that was to control the line of scrimmage and pound the ball on the ground. Arkansas used this strategy to run the Gamecocks out of Donald W Reynolds Stadium and come away with a 44-30 victory. In this victory, Arkansas showed that they are a team that will pressure this conference and nation. This Hogs win snaps a three-game skid to South Carolina and earn their 14th win out of 23 historically. Let’s look at what went right for the Hogs and who is on the horizon as the next challenge.

Keys To Hogs Win Over Gamecocks

CONTROL THE TRENCHES

The Arkansas offensive line proved that the physical challenge of Cincinnati in week one was something they welcomed. In week two, this unit rutted up the Gamecocks’ defense for 295 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The domination was evident when you looked at the time of possession for the game as Arkansas carved the Gamecocks for a 34:37 advantage to 24:23 for South Carolina. Arkansas would go on to outgain the Gamecocks with 457 yards of total offense compared to 411 on the day. Head Coach, Sam Pittman, would have this to say after the game on the line performance “We asked them to kind of control the game, and I felt like they did. … I think the offensive line wore them down.”

The offensive line has been a strong suit for this Arkansas team and looks to continue to get stronger as the season transpires. Offensive tackle Dalton Wagner talked about their performance after the game. “Coach Pitt… pretty much called out the O-line and D-line and said the games on our backs,” Wagner said. “The game will be won in the trenches by us. And the O-line took it really personally this week to make sure we could run the ball.”  Speaking of running the ball brings us to our next point of emphasis.

RUN THE BALL

Arkansas running back, Raheim “rocket’ Sanders had another big day with 156 yards and two touchdowns on his 24 carries. Sanders, along with quarterback KJ Jefferson 67 yards on 19 carries, would rush for back-to-back 100-yard games and have a two-touchdown game for the second time in three outings going back to the 2021 Outback Bowl. Sanders would speak about his performance post-game, saying, “I feel like we’re watching film and knowing what the defense is going to do and figuring out if they’re man or zone,” Sanders said. “I feel like the outside zone and inside zone hit today.” Sanders was not alone in moving the ball on the ground as AJ Green [9 rushes for 43 yards], and Rashod Dubinion [8 rushes for 15 yards] also added rushing touchdowns for the home Hogs. The Arkansas running game seems to be getting stronger each game.

PLAYING THROUGH INJURIES

The Arkansas defense came into this game having to fill significant holes left from injuries. In post-game, we finally got confirmation on safety Jalen Catalon, nickel Myles Slusher, and the significance of their injuries. We learned that Catalon would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn labrum. At the same time, Slusher will be available to return to action in this week’s challenge. With these players out, Latavious Brini and Jayden Johnson would get the start and play well in this role. Defensive coordinator Barry Odom and defensive backs coach Dominique Bowman deserve credit for the job they did to have this defense ready. Arkansas has talent on all three levels of this unit and showed just how deep this roster is this week.

WHO IS NEXT?

This is a loaded question if you ask Razorback fans. The next challenge is the Missouri State Bears as they visit Fayetteville for a 6 pm kickoff. To the average college football fan, this game means nothing, but in Fayetteville, it is personal. It isn’t very objective because of the man at the program’s helm. That man is former Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino, head coach from 2008-2011. While in Fayetteville, Petrino would have Hogs fans in “Hog Heaven” with his teams and their success.

After a 5-7 2008 season, Petrino would take the Hogs to three consecutive bowl games {2009-Liberty, 2010- Sugar, and 2011- Cotton} and amass a 34-17 overall record. The Razorbacks would see ranks as high as 5th nationally and be ranked in the top 10 during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Arkansas fans will have plenty to say to Petrino on the local radio and gameday because of this.

HOGS COME IN RANKED 10th

In recent news,  Pittman and Arkansas’ latest accomplishment has made this game more enjoyable. According to the AP poll, the Razorbacks will enter this game ranked 10th.  Pittman has already accomplished what Petrino, which is to be ranked in the top 10 in back-to-back seasons. Petrino will be the topic this week, but the Pittman Effect is the current state of Arkansas Football. Furthermore, that effect has shown to be more impactful than any we have seen in a very long time.

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