Bad day for Dre

Hogs’ defense goes south after LB’s injury

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2018
Vanderbilt receiver Trey Ellis is pursued by Arkansas linebacker Hayden Henry during a game Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Vanderbilt receiver Trey Ellis is pursued by Arkansas linebacker Hayden Henry during a game Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The first play Vanderbilt ran after University of Arkansas senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw left Saturday's game with an ankle injury turned into Ke'Shawn Vaughn's 63-yard touchdown run with 8:02 left in the first quarter.

It turned out to be Greenlaw's last snap after he had tackled receiver Kalija Lipscomb for a 1-yard gain and came up limping.

"There probably were some big plays that Dre would have been there to make," Arkansas junior linebacker De'Jon Harris said. "It impacted us a lot not having Dre."

Vaughn's first of three touchdown runs set the tone for the Commodores as they pounded the Razorbacks 45-31.

It's up for debate how much of a difference Greenlaw's presence might have made, but presumably he could have helped a defense that allowed 442 yards.

Arkansas Coach Chad Morris had referred to the defense as a "rock" for the Razorbacks this season, but that wasn't the case against Vanderbilt.

"I was surprised," Morris said of the defense's struggles. "But credit Vandy. They had a great game plan, and they executed it well with their motions and their shifts to get us outflanked."

The Commodores scored six touchdowns on Arkansas after a 14-7 loss at Kentucky last week.

One difference Saturday was the return of Vaughn, who didn't play against the Wildcats after suffering a concussion. Vaughn, a junior transfer from Illinois, rushed 26 times for 172 yards against the Razorbacks.

"I felt good after taking that week off," Vaughn said.

"It had its advantages and its disadvantages, not being able to play, but being able to recover from any pains and aches ... it's just a good feeling being out there with the team."

Saturday was the most yards Vaughn has gained for the Commodores and was 8 shy of his career-high 180 rushing yards for the Illini against Purdue in 2015.

"I just take advantage of when I get the ball," Vaughn said. "Over my college career, I've learned a lot, I've grown a lot, I've matured a lot.

"I know I've got to control what I can control. Whenever I get the ball, I've gotta make a play."

Vanderbilt rushed 49 times for 250 yards as Khari Blasingame added 10 carries for 46 yards, and Jamauri Wakefield had 3 carries for 22 yards.

"Kudos to the offensive line," Commodores Coach Derek Mason said. "I thought they played extremely hard."

Vanderbilt also hit the Razorbacks for several big gains on screen plays to tight end Jared Pinkney, Lipscomb and Blasingame.

"When you try to bring the house to get sacks, you can leave yourself vulnerable to the screen game," Mason said. "That's the gamble you take -- the sort of high-risk, high-reward stakes that are at risk when you're doing it."

Vanderbilt senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns, said the effectiveness of the running game helped set up the screens.

"When you drop back to pass, it really gets those pass rushers going fast to where you can throw screens," he said. "So everything is really cohesive when you're really running the ball. I think we really did a good job."

Pinkney had 5 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns; Lipscomb had 4 catches for 44 yards; and Blasingame had 2 catches for 42 yards.

"Bad eyes by some of the guys," Harris said of what happened on the screens. "And they schemed us up pretty well."

With Greenlaw out, Arkansas used several younger linebackers with Harris, including true freshman Bumper Pool, and sophomores Hayden Henry, Grant Morgan and Dee Walker.

"I think any time you lose a player of [Greenlaw's] caliber, it impacts your entire team and your entire defense," Morris said. "His inability to finish the game didn't help matters."

Harris said the Razorbacks were feeling confident going into the game after beating Tulsa 23-0 -- Arkansas' first shutout since 2014.

"We were pretty positive, especially coming off a win from last week," Harris said. "We felt good coming into the week. With the game plan the coaches prepared for us, we thought we could steal one.

"But it didn't go our way. So we'll get back in there and figure out what happened."

Sports on 10/28/2018

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