Arkansas Razorbacks at South Carolina Gamecocks: Arkansas Quick Hits

Wesley Hitt

A few quick thoughts on Arkansas:

--The Hogs are 4-5 on the season, which is bad but seemingly not terrible, but when you look at where the wins have come from, it takes away almost all the possible shine. Arkansas started the season with a win over Jacksonville St., but the defense looked bad in that game, giving up 21 first half points. They then proceeded to go on a four-game losing streak in which they lost to LA Monroe and Rutgers and were thoroughly depantsed by 'Bama and Texas A&M. The wins over Auburn and Kentucky seemed like progress at the time, but after the Hogs lost to Ole Miss--an improved team but one that still was destroyed by Georgia--it became clear that Arkansas only beat Auburn and Kentucky because those two teams are horrifically bad. Arkansas simply doesn't have a lot to hang its hat on so far this year. There's a reason why we're more than two TD favorites against these guys.

--Defense is clearly Arkansas's biggest weakness. The Hogs are particularly pitiful against the pass. Rushing defense hasn't been terrible numbers-wise, but you have to assume that the fact that it's so easy to pass against these guys has benefited the rushing defense. The Hogs pass defense has especially struggled due to key injuries that have plagued the back seven. If Shaw is ready to go 100% this weekend, we should be more than fine offensively.

--Arkansas's offense worries me a bit, because the playmakers are still there at the skills positions. Tyler Wilson, Dennis Johnson, and Cobi Hamilton are dangerous players. But what's killed the Hogs this year is pass protection, something this offense absolutely relies upon. The Hogs haven't given up many sacks because Wilson is a pocket-savvy QB who gets the ball out, but he's taken a huge pounding this year. The Gamecocks should be able to put the pressure on him. One thing to watch out for is that Wilson moves well in the pocket. He's certainly not a Shaw-style dual threat, but he's good at escaping sacks. The Gamecocks need to not only get to him but make the Hogs pay when they do. In any event, while there's some worry about how our secondary will do against Arkansas after how they played against Tennessee, I think you have to take into account that the lines for these two teams are much different in quality. Tennessee has multiple NFL draft picks on its line, while Arkansas's guys were pushed around by LA Monroe. Big difference.

--Spurrier's comments this week suggest that he's very motivated to avenge the past three games against the Razorbacks. I expect that he's put some extra work into the gameplan for this contest, and that he's presumably put extra effort into impressing the team of the importance of this game. I wouldn't expect a letdown for that reason. Arkansas, on the other hand, is basically playing to get to .500. Maybe a trip to the Taxslayer.com Bowl will serve as motivation for them. Or maybe they'll fold after we get out to a lead. We'll see.

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