Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
How Arkansas and Ole Miss compare at each position
Arkansas running back Trelon Smith carries the ball during a game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Auburn, Ala.
Matt Corral (67-88-1, 1,080 yards, 9 TD, .761 completion pct.) is clearly the man now for the Kiffin regime after classmate John Rhys Plumlee ran for 1,023 yards in ’19. Corral, the nation’s total offense leader with 407 ypg, is 4th in the SEC with 360 passing ypg and 2nd with a 210.7 rating. His 9-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio trails only Kyle Trask and Stetson Bennett in the SEC. Plumlee is Mr. Versatility. Feleipe Franks (61-94-2, 730 yards, 7 TD) is coming off his best game as a Razorback. He hasn’t been exactly nimble in the pocket (8 sacks) but his legs have bailed Arkansas out some. Franks ranks 7th in the SEC with 243.3 passing ypg, and a 150.4 passer rating. The goal-line packages with backups KJ Jefferson and Malik Hornsby have been predictable and unproductive.
ADVANTAGE Ole Miss
The Rebels have a 1-2 punch with Jerrion Ealy (45 carries, 255 yards, 4 TDs, 5.4 yards per carry) and Snoop Conner (37-187, 4, 4.8 ypc) that ranks with the best in the SEC, and the duo is equally dangerous in the passing game. QB Matt Corral (39-194) averages 3.6 ypc, not bad considering he has 53 yards in losses due to sacks.
The Razorbacks expect Rakeem Boyd (19-49, 2.6 ypc) back in the lineup, but junior Trelon Smith has handled the load well in his absence. Boyd is considered probable today. Smith (41-167, 4.1 ypc) proved productive in his first start with 159 total yards, a season-best 81 rushing and 78 receiving. Arkansas finally surpassed 100 yards last week with 119.
Elijah Moore (31-462, 1 TD), of hiking his leg in the end zone infamy from the Egg Bowl, leads the country with 154 receiving ypg, and he has 10 catches in every game. TEs Kenny Yeboah (15-355, 4) and Dontario Drummond (3-71, 2) both have 2-TD games and both average 23.7 yards per catch. Jonathan Mingo (9-139, 2) is also dangerous. Moore scored twice vs. Hogs in ‘19.
De’Vion Warren (10-223, 3) has emerged with more playing time, averaging 22.3 ypc. Mike Woods (12-150, 1) has been clutch on critical downs. Treylon Burks (8-112, 1) has practiced all week and is expected to return today. Trey Knox (4-33) is off to a slow start. The production for TEs Blake Kern (5-68) and Hudson Henry (4-20, 1) is on the uptick. RB Trelon Smith (14-113, 1) leads in catches.
ADVANTAGE Ole Miss
Junior C Ben Brown, who has 27 consecutive starts, and senior RT Royce Newman, a standout on “The Season” with his flowing hair, leads one of the youngest OLs in the SEC. The other starters are true Soph. LT Nick Broeker, and redshirt freshmen LG Caleb Warren and RG Jeremy James. Warren made his first career start last week vs. Alabama. The starters average 6-5, 315 pounds.
Arkansas got a spark with the return of RG Ty Clary (27 career starts) in the 2nd quarter last week. Fellow long-time starter RT Dalton Wagner played most of the game after Noah Gatlin’s leg injury on the first play. LT Myron Cunningham, LG Brady Latham and C Ricky Stromberg are the other starters for a unit that averages 6-4, 307 pounds. RG Beaux Limmer started the first 3 games.
ADVANTAGE Ole Miss
The top end, Sam Williams (12, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF), plays the “Buck” spot along with 6-7 Tavius Robinson (8, 1 hurry), a native of Canada. Tariquois Tisdale (15, 1.5 TFL, 1 hurry) has played in 26 consecutive games. KD Hill (5), a 320-pounder, mans the nose tackle spot, while 6-6 Ryder Anderson (8, 1 TFL, 3 hurries, 1 FR) is the top tackle.
Tackles Jonathan Marshall (11, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 hurry), Isaiah Nichols (7, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU) and Xavier Kelly (4, 1 hurry) have set the tone for the front. Zach Williams (17, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack) and Eric Gregory (12, 1.5 sacks, 1 hurry) have been the most consistent ends. Julius Coates (2, 1 PD) and Mateo Soli have been quiet. Dorian Gerald (4, 1.5 sacks) has missed the last 2 games.
Middle backer Momo Sanogo (19, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 hurries) is back after suffering a broken ankle vs. Arkansas in ’19. WLB Lakia Henry (13, 1 TFL, 1 hurry, 1 PBU), a former Arkansas commit, has taken No. 0 this year. Jacquez Jones (15, 0.5 TFL) is expected back this week after missing the last game with an upper-body injury.
Top producers Bumper Pool (36, 1 TFL, 4 PBU) and Grant Morgan (33, 0.5 TFL, 1 PBU) have played through nagging injuries. Their tackling in the rain last week was not as clean as it had been through two games. Hayden Henry (8, 1 sack) notched a sack last week. Andrew Parker (1) has gotten reps but has not flashed. LB responsibilities vs. Ole Miss will be comprehensive.
The top corners are 6-2 Keidron Smith (25, 1 PBU) and 5-11 Jakorey Hawkins (16, 1 FF, 2 PBU), who forced and recovered a fumble at the goal line vs. Alabama. Daylen Gill (10) mans the “star” spot, while the top safeties are senior Jaylon Jones (22) of the Allen, Texas, football factory, and A.J. Finley (11, 1 INT, 1 PBU) who had a career-high 6 tackles last week.
Who’s available? Walk-on Hudson Clark (9, 1 PBU) and frosh Khari Johnson (4, 1 PBU) got the most reps at CB with Montaric Brown (6, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU) and Jerry Jacobs (13) out. Jalen Catalon (36, 2 PBU), Joe Foucha (10, 2 INT), Simeon Blair (10, 2 PBU) and Myles Slusher (3, 1 FR) lead a safety resurgence. Top nickels are Greg Brooks (11, 1 TFL, 1 INT) and LaDarrius Bishop (4).
Senior Luke Logan (2 of 3 FG, 15 of 15 PAT) was a 2019 Lou Groza watch lister and is fifth in Ole Miss kick scoring (215). Punter Mac Brown has a hefty average of 47.3 yards on just 10 punts, with 3 inside the 20 and is No. 6 in the NCAA. The Rebels are No. 13 in net punting (41.88). Jerrion Ealy averages 23.8 yards on kickoff returns.
The Hogs have been disappointing, other than PK A.J. Reed (2 of 2 FG, 5 of 5 PAT). George Cartan (45.4) has punted well on the whole, but he had a muffed hold last week and a line-drive punt to mid-field at crunch time. Arkansas is No. 66 in net punting (33.7) and they’ve had two punt blocks. Coverage has been below average. There has been no kickoff or punt return to speak of.
ADVANTAGE Ole Miss
Ole Miss put a lot of emotional effort into last week’s loss at Alabama, and that’s a tough high to duplicate. However, their offensive coaches probably see things in the Arkansas secondary they’d like to test. Defensively, the Rebels have nowhere to go but up, and it helps that Lane Kiffin is familiar with the schemes of Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.
The Razorbacks spent a lot of emotional capital in their game at Auburn and had to be sore over the bad officiating decision that cost them a victory. Back-ups at key spots have now gotten plenty of snaps under their belts and the hits are piling up for walking wounded. Now would be a good week for Arkansas to have key contributors return to the lineup, particularly in the secondary.
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