A few short weeks ago, most of the state was in Hog Heaven. Arkansas was 3-0 going into the Alabama game. And with a heart breaking loss, the fall from Hog Heaven has been disheartening to say the least.
Over the past few weeks, many have called for Willy Robinson’s job, questioned players motivation and most recently decided that Tyler Wilson should start in place of Ryan Mallett.
Previous to last week, Arkansas’ defense was ranked in the top 20 in the nation. No one was calling for Robinson’s job then.
Ryan Mallett was averaging 357 yards per game. No mention that Coach Petrino should start Tyler Wilson.
Could Coach Robinson have changed up scheme’s in the Auburn game ? Yes. Did Tyler Wilson put on a phenomenal display ? Yes.
It seems to me that you can see a fan’s true colors when things go bad.
With six games remaining, it all starts here.
The coaching staff and players need no more motivation than Ole Miss coming to town. Not to mention that 65 point tune up last week. The players will inevitably be raring to erase that memory with a win. After all, winning cures all.
The thing that stands out to me, Jeremiah Masoli is yet no. 3 of 4, mobile quarterbacks that the Hogs will see in as many weeks.
While obviously all mobile quarterbacks have mobility in common, they mostly differ in style.
Masoli is not a run first quarterback, but not necessarily a pass first quarterback either.
If a play breaks down, he will run, otherwise he will try to throw the ball. Here is where it gets interesting. In the Ole Miss games I have seen, Masoli is fairly accurate, however he tends to make poor decisions when facing pressure.
Enter Jake Bequette.
In last week’s game, Bequette had an astounding zero tackles. As a matter of fact, the defensive line combined had one tackle for loss. Jake Bequette, as well as the rest of the defensive front, will be looking to make up for last week’s performance. (Or lack there of)
The Hogs defensive line has shown that it can bring pressure and disrupt an offense, and that is exactly what they will have to do Saturday.
Ole Miss’s offensive line has seen it’s better days, but is still a solid offensive line and has shown that it can protect the quarterback.
Offensively, Ole Miss is averaging 393.3 yards per game. Masoli has only attempted 134 passes this season connecting on 75 for 933 yards and 7 touchdowns, while rushing 60 times for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Defensively, Ole Miss is allowing 31 points per game.
The Hogs are averaging 480 yards per game on offense and allowing 23.3 points per game, including the 65 from last week.
Arkansas’ display of powder puff defense last week was very uncharacteristic of what we have seen this season, and due to that poor performance, I’m forced to believe the Hogs defense will play with a chip on their shoulders.
If the offense is able to pick up where they left off last week, it could get ugly quick.
From what I’ve seen, Ole Miss does not have the manpower to stop Arkansas’ potent offense, and if the defense that stymied Texas A&M shows up, Houston Dale Nutt will have a difficult time calling plays come Saturday.
With such an early kickoff, it’s always an advantage to the visiting team, less time for the home team to mentally fire themselves up, less time for the fans to get fired up.
I don’t think that will be an issue for Hog fans. I’ve seen them fired up in April.
The keys to victory are simple: Start fast and finish strong.
As with any game, the Hogs will need to come out swinging and if they are able to land a knock out punch to a teeter totter Ole Miss team, we will see Tyler Wilson play.
Last week it seemed as though Willy Robinson was concerned about putting pressure on Cam Newton, this week will be different.
Look for a ton of pressure on Masoli with the inconsistency he has shown.
The most important thing for the Hogs will be, if they have a chance to put Ole Miss away early, do it.
In most cases, coaches might see the opponent as a brother, you want to beat them, but not so bad that they don’t talk to you anymore, in this case Coach Petrino needs to view the remaining opponents as ex wives, if you can beat them badly, do it.
It is my opinion that coach A’s job is to score points, and the coach B is supposed to stop them, if coach B can’t, coach A shouldn’t stop doing his job. It’s not a widely popular opinion but that’s why they are opinions.
Many people in the media say this will be a 34-31 type of game, I do not share that view. If Arkansas’ defense is able to play to the caliber that we have seen, and the offense is half as productive as last week I could easily see this game ending some where around 28-17 or 35-24.
But that’s why they play the game.
Follow James Moseley on Twitter: @james_moseley