With a disappointing loss at Auburn, the Hogs will return to play in the state of Arkansas for the first time in 28 days, when they take on the Rebel Black Bears of Ole Miss.
Coming into this match up, many questions are still unanswered. Is the defense legitimate ? Will Ryan Mallett be healthy ? Those are probably the biggest two.
As for the defense, there have been signs of remission into the ways of old throughout the season but overall, the defense has played well. Whether it has been stepping up in the Georgia game and producing a big stop, containing Jerrod Johnson and keeping the offense in the Southwest Classic, the defense has been solid.
On the heels of what can only be described as a meltdown in technique, and failed assignments, the defense needs to bounce back with a vengeful demeanor.
With only one out of conference game left on the schedule, the Hogs have six very winnable games left. The best mindset the Hogs can go into this game with is that, this game begins a new season. All in all it is in a way a new season, it’s the second half of an SEC season.
As far as the second question regarding the health of Mallett, he has shown no signs of being concussed since Saturday night. I’ve heard mention of a quarterback controversy, and quite frankly that is absurd.
Yes, Tyler Wilson stepped up and played lights out, with the exception of the interceptions, and he did keep the Hogs in the game with ability that Hog fans had wondered about, but the fact of the matter is that, Ryan Mallett is the starter if he is healthy.
If the training staff feels for any reason that Ryan Mallett should not play this Saturday, I’m sure that Coach Petrino will feel very comfortable handing Tyler Wilson the reigns and letting him show his skills once again.
As far as game-planning, Willy Robinson’s squad will for the third straight week, face a mobile quarterback in Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli, not only has the ability to run effectively, he does have a strong arm, though he shows inconsistencies in his accuracy at times. Ole Miss from a talent stand point, seems to be lacking that all-around threat of a Dexter McCluster type.
One advantage the Hogs will have, is that they have been consistent for the most part in their production on a week to week basis. Ole Miss on the other hand has not.
With Ole Miss suffering losses to Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt and Alabama, and winning match ups with Tulane, Fresno State and Kentucky, the absence of a dominant playmaker is obvious.
In this weeks SEC battle, the Hogs will need to play like they did this past Saturday, like they are behind on the scoreboard.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the added aggressiveness when the Hogs are behind. Don’t get me wrong a running game is vital to the success of just about any football team.
However, if the Hogs can land a few knockout blows early in the game, it would become much more manageable. My point is that a broken defense is a soft defense.
Arkansas has the ability to score on anyone in the country, they have shown that. The defense has shown that it can step up and hit opposing offenses in the mouth.
The special teams unit has been less than desirable all season. With the loss of Dennis Johnson, there has been a drop off in production in the kick return game.
But it’s times like these when you find talented guys that are willing to step up and help this team win. Although he didn’t lead the Hogs to victory, Tyler Wilson took a big step in maturity last Saturday, and gave Hog fans peace of mind in the event of the unthinkable.
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