Thursday, October 11, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' passing attack will face a banged up Ole Miss secondary on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised by the SEC Network (Resort Channel 79).
Arkansas (1-5, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) heads to Little Rock after a surprisingly productive performance against No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0) Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks were 26-for-40 passing for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior starter Ty Storey, of Charleston, was 25-for-39 for 239 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Arkansas gained 405 yards in Saturday's 65-31 loss to Alabama. The yards and points allowed were both season highs for the Crimson Tide.
Ole Miss (4-2, 0-2) will be compelled to play a couple of running backs in the secondary due to injuries. The Rebels are coming off of a 70-21 victory against Louisiana-Monroe (2-4, 0-2 Sun Belt Conference) in a non-conference game in Oxford, Miss.
"Arkansas presents a lot of challenges because of how much movement and motion they do," Ole Miss Coach Matt Luke said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "But (free safety) Zedrick Woods, who is our quarterback back there, thankfully has a lot of experience. But we will have to play Armani Linton, who has been at running back. He will have to go over there and help us. The same thing with (5-6 reserve running back) Tylan Knight. He will go in and play a bunch just for depth."
Arkansas head coach Chad Morris was asked on Wednesday's SEC teleconference about the Ole Miss secondary.
"They've had some injuries, but they are very well coached," Morris said. "A lot of experience back there. What we'll do is just worry about ourselves and do what we do, try to get this football team better each week."
Alabama may be the most skilled offense in the country, but Morris implies Ole Miss is not far behind.
"When you look at their skill guys, they're as good as anybody in the SEC from a skill position," Morris said. "They have two, possibly even three, first-round receivers. They're that talented. They have great speed.
"They're very well experienced and I know that the quarterback (Jordan Ta'amu) makes them go. He has been very efficient and effective and he's capable of running the football, so he's very much a dual-threat. It's going to force us to have to cover not just sideline to sideline, but we also have to cover end zone to end zone with these guys."
Wideouts A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and tight end DaMarkus Loge are the Rebels' pass-catchers that Morris predicts will be playing on Sundays someday in the NFL. Defensive coordinator John Chavis and his staff cannot omit plans to stop the running game.
Running back Scottie Phillips averages 7.1 per tote with 654 yards and eight touchdowns on 90 carries. He also has five receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think he's done a really good job of maximizing his opportunities," Luke said, "He's very elusive, quick through the hole and has the ability to get some yards after contact by running through people.
"We knew it was going to be a struggle to replace Jordan Wilkinson, a 1,000-yard rusher from a year ago. Scottie has done an outstanding job not only carrying the ball but he's also had some catches out of the backfield here lately."
Morris said Wednesday senior starting right guard Johnny Gibson will play against Ole Miss. Gibson was withheld from practice on Tuesday because of "soreness." The coach has lauded Gibson ever since he lost weight to go from 345 pounds to 320 during the summer.
"I think Johnny has done a really good job," Morris said. "Obviously, what he did coming out of summer and transitioning his body. He's done a good job of moving around and continues to get better as the whole group does up front. Especially since we found the group of five."
The five including installing sophomore Ty Clary at center, moving senior Hjalte Froholdt from center back to left guard where he has started the past two seasons, getting junior left tackle Colton Jackson back healthy after missing the season's first two games because of July back surgery and senior Brian Wallace continuing at right tackle.
True freshman Noah Gatlin, who started two games at tackle in Jackson's absence, has been idled by an ankle injury and has not played since Jackson returned to a starting role in the SEC opener against Auburn (4-2, 1-2) after playing off the bench against North Texas (5-1, 1-1 Conference USA).
Gatlin was in a yellow no-practice jersey on Wednesday. He has played three games with two starts and could play one more game while retaining freshman eligibility in 2019 under the NCAA's new redshirt rule.
"We'll see if we can get him back ready to go," Morris said. "We feel he can be a phenomenal player."
Junior running back Devwah Whaley appears to have passed his concussion protocol sidelining him the past two games. Whaley is expected to back up sophomore junior college transfer Rakeem Boyd, who had 15 carries for 102 yards against Alabama.
"It will be great to get him back, but Rakeem Boyd has had a really good last few weeks," Morris said.
The team practice inside the Fred W. Smith Football Center on Tuesday because of lightning. The Razorbacks worked outdoors on Wednesday in 63-degree weather with sunshine.
"Just a beautiful day to be back on the field," Morris said.Sports on 10/11/2018
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