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Arkansas Game Notes – Ole Miss Game

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas Game Notes – Ole Miss Game

HOGS TRAVEL TO OXFORD TO TAKE ON REBELS: Arkansas hits the road for an SEC Western Division matchup with the Ole Miss Rebels this weekend in Oxford, Miss. The Hogs and Rebels will kick things off at 1 p.m. CT. The game is not televised.

The Razorbacks (2-6, 0-5 SEC) will be looking for their first league win of the season after dropping SEC games to Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina. Arkansas’ two wins this season have come against Missouri State and Louisiana-Monroe.

The Rebels (3-5, 1-4 SEC) will return to the gridiron after an open date last weekend. In its last outing, Ole Miss dropped a 27-3 decision to Auburn. Ole Miss’ three wins came against Memphis, The Citadel and Kentucky. They have lost to Vanderbilt, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn this season.

NOTING THE RAZORBACKS:

* Arkansas and Ole Miss will meet for the 52nd time and only the seventh time in Oxford. Arkansas leads the series but by what record is a matter of discrepancy between the two schools. The Hogs claim a series record of 27-23-1 while Ole Miss has the series 26-24-1 in favor of the Razorbacks. The disagreement stems for the 1914 game played in Little Rock in which Arkansas claims Ole Miss used an ineligible player. (see p. 2)

* Arkansas and Ole Miss will play a day game in Oxford for the first time since 1955. All four of the Oxford meetings since that time have been played under the lights for television.

* Arkansas has played the third toughest schedule in the nation according to NCAA rankings this week. Vanderbilt, USC, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina have combined to post a 37-14 record (.725). Missouri State isn’t included in the rankings since it is Division I-AA. All games against Division I-AA opponents by Arkansas and its opponents aren’t included in the ratings. Results against Arkansas are also not taken into the equation.

* Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron once was a member of Arkansas’ football staff. Orgeron was an assistant strength and conditioing coach under Ken Hatfield in 1986 and 1987. During his tenure, the Hogs posted a record of 18-7 and advanced to a pair of bowl games.

* Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden leads the SEC and ranks 19th in the nation in rushing averaging 108.6 yards per game. He has earned 100 yards or more in each of his last four outings. No UA freshman has ever captured a league rushing crown.

* Arkansas has employed more true freshmen on the field this season than any team in the nation according to a recent poll of football sports information directors. The Razorbacks have played 17 true freshmen in the first eight games of the season. Of those 17 players, five true freshmen have earned a start on offense or defense including quarterback Casey Dick last weekend against South Carolina.

SERIES HISTORY: Arkansas and Ole Miss have met 51 times on the gridiron with the Razorbacks holding a 27-23-1 series edge according to UA records. The Rebels show the series at a 26-24-1 UA advantage. The discrepancy stems from the 1914 game in Little Rock which Arkansas claims as a win alleging that Ole Miss used an ineligible player. The Rebels deny the allegations and count a 13-7 win on the field. As all of the participants in the game are no longer living, it’s doubtful that this issue will be resolved any time soon.

The Razorbacks have won three of the last four meetings between the teams including a 35-3 win in Fayetteville last season. Ole Miss leads the series 5-1 in games played in Oxford. The Hogs’ only win in Oxford was in 2001 when Arkansas outlasted Ole Miss 58-56 in a seven-overtime thriller. It still stands, along with Arkansas’ seven-overtime win at Kentucky in 2003, as the longest college football game in NCAA history.

Arkansas enjoys a 7-6 advantage in the series since the Hogs joined the SEC in 1992. Houston Nutt is 4-3 against Ole Miss since taking over the reins at Arkansas in 1998.

DAYLIGHT IN OXFORD: Although this is the seventh time Arkansas will meet Ole Miss in Oxford, it will mark the first time the two teams have met in a day game since 1955. All of the previous six meetings on campus since that time have come under the lights due to television coverage. In 1997, the two teams played in front of ESPN cameras. ESPN2 televised the 1999, 2001 and 2003 affairs.

The two teams met in day games in 1928 and 1955, but didn’t return to Oxford to play until 1997.

LAST YEAR AGAINST THE REBELS: Arkansas raced out to an early lead and never looked back as the Razorbacks buried the Rebels 35-3 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Hogs led 14-0 after one quarter and 28-3 by halftime in the blowout win.

Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another on a 72-yard run. Jones culminated the score by dunking the ball over the crossbar in his final on-campus home game as a Razorback. Jones rushed for 126 yards and completed 11-of-16 passes for 108 yards on the day.

Razorback tight end Jared Hicks caught two touchdown passes while DeCori Birmingham and Peyton Hillis each racked up rushing touchdowns for the Hogs.

LAST TIME IN OXFORD: Ole Miss kicker Jonathan Nichols kicked four field goals as the Rebels posted a 19-7 victory over the No. 21 Razorbacks in Oxford in 2003. Arkansas scored its only touchdown of the day when Mark Pierce plunged in from one yard out to even the game at 7-7. Nichols tallied all the scoring from there as neither team crossed the goal line.

Without the services of its top two tailbacks due to injury, Arkansas was held to only 237 offensive yards. Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones completed 12-of-29 passes for 140 yards. George Wilson led the Hogs in receiving with six catches for 104 yards.

Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning completed 17-of-32 pass attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown.

OTHER SERIES TIDBITS:

Arkansas has outscored Ole Miss 841-773. . . .This is the 52nd meeting between the teams and 25th consecutive season in which they have met. . . .There have been 14 shutouts in the series with Arkansas holding an 8-6 advantage in those games. . . .Not including the tie or disputed game, there have been 20 games decided by a touchdown or less including eight games decided by a field goal or less.

ORGERON FORMER HOG: Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron knows something about Razorback football. After all, Orgeron was an assistant strength coach at Arkansas under Ken Hatfield from 1986-87. During his stint in Fayetteville the Hogs tallied two nine-win seasons and posted an overall mark of 18-7. The Razorbacks finished second in the Southwest Conference in those two seasons and advanced to the Orange and Liberty Bowls following the 1986 and 1987 seasons, respectively. Arkansas wide receivers coach James Shibest was a senior on the 1986 Razorback squad.

SIMILAR COACHING PATHS: A look down the resumes of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and Ole Miss offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone reveals many of the same stops on the college football coaching career path. After all, both coaches have spent time at North Carolina State, Auburn and TCU.

However, the only time the two coaches have been on the same coaching staff was last season (2004) at North Carolina State. Herring was the Wolfpack’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach while Mazzone was the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Mazzone spent two years (2003-04) at N.C. State while Herring logged one season (2004) before coming to Arkansas.

OTHER UA-UM CONNECTIONS:

* Ole Miss redshirt freshman offensive lineman Maurice Miller is from West Helena, Ark.

* Arkansas defensive tackle Marcus Harrison and Ole Miss tailback Mico McSwain were teammates at Hargrave Military [Va.] Academy in 2003.

* Arkansas linebacker Freddie Fairchild and Ole Miss defensive lineman Peria Jerry were teammates at Hargrave Military [Va.] Academy in 2004.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Arkansas has utilized the most true freshmen in the nation this season according to a recent survey conducted among football sports information directors. The Razorbacks have played 17 true freshmen in the first eight games. Five of those 17 freshmen have started a game this season for the Hogs.

Quarterback Casey Dick became the 17th true freshman to play for the Hogs when he took the opening snap against South Carolina. In addition to Dick, Stephen Arnold (PK), Cole Barthel (QB), Mark Bonner (CB), Freddie Fairchild (LB), Reggie Fish (WR), Elston Forte (FS), Tyrell Graham (LB), Cord Gray (DT), Felix Jones (RB), Jamar Love (CB), Darren McFadden (TB), Will Moore (PK), Mitch Petrus (OL), Marcus Shavers (DT), Brandon Sturdivant (LB) and Jose Valdez (OT) have all played in at least one game in their true freshman season.

RACKING UP 20: The Razorbacks have made a routine of racking up 20 points since Houston Nutt arrived in Fayetteville. Arkansas has scored 20 points or more in 68 of Nutt’s 94 games (.723) as head coach. Arkansas is 50-18 (.735) when scoring 20 points or more including a 24-9 mark (.727) in the last four seasons.

NUTT IN NOVEMBER: Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and the Razorbacks have been tough to beat in November during his tenure in Fayetteville. After posting a combined record of 6-6 in his first three seasons with the Hogs, Nutt has reeled off a 14-5 (.737) clip since 2001. Nutt’s best November numbers came in 2002 when the Hogs recorded five consecutive victories to win the SEC Western Division Championship and a trip to the 2002 SEC Championship Game.

Nutt was a combined 11-7 in November in his previous head coaching stints at Murray State and Boise State. In 13 years as a head coach, Nutt and his squads are 31-18 (.633) in November.

Nutt in November at Arkansas

1998 – 2-2

1999 – 2-2

2000 – 2-2

2001 – 3-1

2002 – 5-0

2003 – 4-1

2004 – 2-2

2005 – 0-1

Total – 20-11

DENTING THE SCOREBOARD: Through the first eight games of the 2005 season, Arkansas has scored in 118 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in team history. Arkansas has not been shut out since a 28-0 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 18, 1995.

The longest scoring streak in Razorback history is 125 games set from 1973-83. The Hogs were shut out by Southern Cal, 17-0, in the season opener on Sept. 15, 1973, and went 125 games before being blanked by SMU, 17-0, on Nov. 19, 1983.

Arkansas ranks fourth among league schools in the longest active scoring streak. Florida ranks first in the SEC earning points in 213 consecutive contests.

HOGS’ SCHEDULE RANKED THIRD IN THE NATION: Arkansas has played the nation’s third toughest schedule so far according to NCAA rankings. Vanderbilt, USC, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina have combined to post a 37-14 record (.725). Missouri State isn’t included in the rankings since it is Division I-AA. All games against Division I-AA opponents by Arkansas and its opponents aren’t included in the ratings. Results against Arkansas are also not taken into the equation. The Hogs slipped to third in the rankings after claiming the nation’s toughest slate last week.

Overall, Arkansas ranks sixth in the toughest schedule category when past opponents and future opponents are taken into consideration. The Razorbacks’ opponents are a combined 46-27 (.630) so far this season.

The Hogs have navigated a top-10 nationally ranked schedule in three of the last four seasons. Five of the Razorbacks’ 11 regular season opponents were ranked in the preseason top 25 polls. The USA Today Coaches poll features Southern Cal (#1), LSU (#6), Georgia (#13), Auburn (#15) and Alabama (#24). The AP preseason listing had Southern Cal (#1), LSU (#5), Georgia (#13) and Auburn (#16).

Arkansas has only played as many as five nationally ranked teams in one season three times in history with two of those coming in the Houston Nutt era. The Hogs faced five nationally ranked opponents in 1997, 2000 and 2004.

In 2004, Arkansas’ schedule ranked No. 8 in the nation based on cumulative opponents winning percentage (.613). In 2003, Arkansas ranked No. 26 in strength of schedule. Arkansas boasted the fourth-toughest schedule in both 2002 and 2001. In 2000, the Razorbacks’ schedule rated 12th in the country.

RAZORBACK OFFENSE

HOGS AMONG NATION’S BEST IN RUSHING: Arkansas continues to rank among the nation’s best when it comes to rushing offense. After leading the country in rushing for the first two weeks of the season, the Razorbacks rank fifth in this week’s statistical rankings. Arkansas hasn’t dropped below sixth in the nation this season.

The Hogs are averaging 251.88 yards per game on the ground through the first eight games of the 2005 campaign.

Arkansas racked up 483 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 51 carries against Missouri State in the season opener. Arkansas tailbacks Felix Jones (137), Peyton Hillis (135) and De’Arrius Howard (120) all topped the 100-yard rushing mark in the victory. The Hogs’ total of 483 rushing yards against the Bears still ranks as the top team rushing output by an NCAA Division I-A team this season. Arkansas also registered among the NCAA’s single-game highs with 321 yards in a win over Louisiana-Monroe.

Arkansas finished 22nd in the nation last season in rushing yardage averaging 187.4 yards per game.

ABOVE AVERAGE: Arkansas has made a habit out of racking up big rushing yardage against some of the nation’s top rush defenses. The Hogs have topped their opponents’ rush defense average in six of seven opportunities this season. In addition, Arkansas rushed for 483 yards against Missouri State in the season opener.

The only time the Hogs failed to reach the opponent’s rush defense average was against Vanderbilt when Arkansas rushed for 194 yards. The Commodores had given up 274 yards in their season opener.

In fact, freshman tailback Darren McFadden has single-handedly topped the Hogs’ opponents’ average in five of seven outings including against all four ranked opponents the Razorbacks have played this season.

LEADING THE LEAGUE: Arkansas is also pacing the SEC in rushing yards per game. The Hogs’ 251.9 average out-distances second-ranked Auburn (207.1 ypg.) by more than 44 yards per game. Arkansas is also leading in yards per attempt with 5.6 yards per rush.

Arkansas has led the league in rushing in two (2002 and 2003) of the last three seasons. The last SEC team to lead the conference in rushing three times in four seasons was Auburn (1983-85).

TRIPLE DIGIT RUSHERS: The Razorbacks’ rushing success has resulted in nine 100-yard rushing efforts in eight games this season.

Freshman Darren McFadden has already set a new UA freshman record with four 100-yard rushing games. McFadden topped the 100-yard mark against Louisiana-Monroe (125), Auburn (108), Georgia (190) and South Carolina (187). No other Razorback freshman has more than two 100-yard rushing games in his inaugural season.

Senior tailback De’Arrius Howard topped the 100-yard mark in the first two games this season (120 vs. Missouri State, 139 vs. Vanderbilt). Freshman Felix Jones racked up 137 yards against Missouri State and 102 against Louisiana-Monroe. Sophomore Peyton Hillis earned the first 100-yard rushing game of his career with 135 yards against Missouri State.

Arkansas earned a total of five 100-yard rushing efforts all of last season with a pair of those coming from quarterback Matt Jones.

In all, Arkansas’ players boast 235 100-yard rushing performances with 50 of those coming in the Houston Nutt era (1998-2005).

TRIO OF 100-YARD RUSHERS: A trio of Razorbacks found plenty of running room in Arkansas’ win over Missouri State. Freshman Felix Jones led the Razorbacks with 137 yards and one touchdown on eight carries. Jones’ performance was the third-best by a Razorback freshman in school history and included an 80-yard touchdown run on his second career carry. Sophomore Peyton Hillis racked up 135 yards and three touchdowns on 14 attempts in the victory. It was Hillis’ first career 100-yard rushing game. Senior tailback De’Arrius Howard tallied his fourth career 100-yard rushing effort with 120 yards on 12 carries. Freshman tailback Darren McFadden also made a run at the 100-yard mark earning 70 yards on nine carries.

The last time Arkansas boasted a trio of 100-yard rushers was in the Hogs’ seven-overtime win at Ole Miss in 2001. Quarterback Matt Jones (110) and tailbacks Cedric Cobbs (100) and Fred Talley (113) each eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in the longest game in NCAA history. The last time three Razorbacks gained 100 yards or more rushing in a regulation game was in Arkansas’ 1993 win over LSU in Baton Rouge. In the 42-24 victory, Razorback running backs Oscar Malone (143), Carlton Calvin (123) and Marius Johnson (106) turned the trick.

Other Rushing Superlatives:

* Arkansas rushed 52 times for 197 yards in the loss to No. 1 Southern California. The Hogs’ total was the most rushing yards given up by the Trojans’ defense in their last 37 games. The last team to rush for as many yards against USC was Washington State (201) in an overtime game in 2002.

* Arkansas is 51-24 (.680) when scoring at least one rushing touchdown since 1998. The Razorbacks are 4-14 (.222) when they do not score at least one rushing touchdown since 1998. The last time Arkansas won a game without a rushing touchdown was in 2002 when the Hogs topped South Carolina 23-0 on two passing scores and three field goals.

* Arkansas also racked up big rushing yardage against another of the nation’s top defenses. The Razorbacks earned 237 yards rushing in a 24-13 loss at Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense entered the game ranked first in the SEC and 24th in the nation in rushing defense. They had allowed only 114 rushing yards in their first three games combined.

In fact, Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden’s 70-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter accounted for nearly double the real estate of Alabama’s average rushing defense total (38.0) in the first three contests.

* Arkansas racked up 216 yards against No. 4 Georgia. The Bulldogs were only yielding 91.2 yards per game entering the contest. McFadden doubled the Bulldogs’ average with 190 yards of rushing alone.

TOTAL EFFORT: While the rushing game has been the primary catalyst, Arkansas is among the league leaders in total offense as well. The Razorbacks rank fifth in the SEC and rank 55th in the nation averaging 385.4 yards per game.

Arkansas is fifth in the nation in rushing offense (251.9 ypg) and ranks 111th (133.5 ypg) in passing offense.

OFFENSIVE FIREWORKS: Arkansas’ offense was in high gear in the Razorbacks’ 49-17 season-opening win over Missouri State. The Hogs racked up 591 yards of total offense in the victory. The total ranked ninth all-time on the UA school record list for total offense in a single game and was the most since Arkansas tallied 605 yards in a seven-overtime win at Kentucky in 2003.

The 483 yards earned on the ground ranked seventh on the school record chart for rushing yards in a game. The last time Arkansas rushed for more yards as a team was in 1987 when the Hogs churned up 502 yards in a win over New Mexico.

FRESHMEN LEADING THE WAY: Arkansas freshmen Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have been leading the way for the Razorbacks on the ground this season. The two true freshmen have combined to rack up six 100-yard rushing games this season.

It is the first time in school history that two true freshmen have recorded a 100-yard rushing game in the same season. In fact, McFadden and Jones each earned 100 yards rushing in the same game against Louisiana-Monroe earlier this season.

McFadden set a new UA freshman single game rushing record with 190 yards against No. 4 Georgia. In the process, McFadden became the first UA freshman to earn 100 yards in three or more games in his first season.

Single Game 100-Yard Rushing Performances by a UA Freshman

190 – Darren McFadden vs. Georgia, 2005

187 – Darren McFadden vs. South Carolina, 2005

169 – Darryl Bowles vs. Texas A&M, 1979

143 – Brandon Holmes vs. LSU, 2000

137 – Felix Jones vs. Missouri State, 2005

131 – Matt Jones vs. Mississippi State, 2001

125 – Darren McFadden vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 2005

125 – James Rouse vs. Texas, 1985

121 – De’Arrius Howard vs. Mississippi State, 2002

118 – Oscar Malone vs. LSU, 1992

110 – Matt Jones vs. Ole Miss, 2001

108 – Darren McFadden vs. Auburn, 2005

107 – Cedric Cobbs vs. Tennessee, 1999

103 – Chrys Chukwuma vs. Louisiana Tech, 1996

102 – Felix Jones vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 2005

FRESHMEN FEAT: Freshmen tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones made some history when both players rushed for more than 100 yards in Arkansas’ win over Louisiana-Monroe. They became the first UA true freshmen to earn 100 yards or more rushing in the same game. McFadden rushed for a career-high 125 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Jones racked up 102 yards and two scores on 14 attempts.

OTHER JONES NOTES:

* Jones ranks second on the team in rushing with 500 yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries.

* He has earned 60 or more yards rushing in five of eight contests including the last two consecutive games against Georgia and South Carolina.

* His 62.5 yards per game average ranks 10th in the SEC and 93rd in the nation.

* Jones got off to a quick start as a Razorback by rushing for a game-high 137 yards and one touchdown on eight carries in leading the Hogs to a 49-17 win over Missouri State in the season opener. Jones became just the ninth freshman running back in Arkansas history to earn 100 yards rushing in his initial season. For his efforts, Jones was named the inaugural SEC Freshman of the Week.

* His 137 yards rank fifth in Razorback frosh history. Jones holds the distinction as the only Arkansas freshman to rush for 100 yards or more in his Razorback debut.

* Jones’ second career rush from scrimmage also etched his name in the UA record books. The 80-yard touchdown run was the longest scoring run by a freshman in school history and the longest rush from scrimmage by a Razorback since Fred Talley raced 81 yards against Central Florida in 2001. The Tulsa, Okla., product tallied 10 yards or more on four of his eight carries against Missouri State and finished the contest with a 17.1 yards- per-rush average.

FELIX NEAR THE LEAGUE LEAD IN KO RETURNS: In addition to his rushing production, freshman Felix Jones has given the Hogs a new weapon on kickoff returns.

Jones ranks second in the SEC and 10th in the nation with a kickoff return average of 29.0 yards per attempt. He tallied a season-long 67-yard kickoff return to set up a touchdown against No. 1 USC. He has 14 kickoff returns for 406 yards in the Hogs’ first seven games.

The last Razorback to lead the league in kickoff returns was Derek Holloway in 1982. Holloway led the Southwest Conference with an average of 21.7 yards per kickoff return.

CASEY AT THE SNAP: Freshman Casey Dick saw his first collegiate action and made his first career start at quarterback against South Carolina. Dick didn’t appear in the Hogs’ first seven games, but took the opening offensive snap against the Gamecocks in the Hogs’ eighth game of the season. Dick is the only Razorback true freshman quarterback to take his first snap as the starter in school history.

Dick completed 12-of-24 pass attempts for 137 yards and a touchdown in his debut. He connected with Peyton Hillis for a four-yard touchdown in the second quarter for his first career touchdown pass. He also threw an interception against the Gamecocks.

Dick is the seventh true freshman quarterback in Razorback history, since freshmen were made eligible in 1972, to make a start. The last true frosh to take the first snap was Zak Clark against Ole Miss in 2000. Former Razorback quarterback Matt Jones played extensively at quarterback as a true freshman, but never started a game in his freshman season.

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Senior Kyle Roper is one of 39 candidates listed on the 2005 Dave Rimington Trophy Watch List entering the 2005 season. The Rimington trophy is award annually to the best collegiate center in the country.

Roper was a preseason All-SEC pick by nearly every preseason publication and was tabbed as the No. 2 center in the Southeastern Conference and the No. 14 center in the nation by The Sporting News. He started 11 games last season grading out at 90 percent or better in 10 of those games. The Powder Springs, Ga., product racked up 46 knockdown blocks in 2004 including 30 in the final three games of last season.

The Rimington Trophy recipient is determined by a consensus of the four All-America teams: The Walter Camp Football Foundation, the America Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America and The Sporting News.

MARVELOUS MONK: At 6-6, Marcus Monk was sure to stand out in his first year at Arkansas. Monk obliged by leading all Southeastern Conference freshmen in receiving and setting a school record for freshman receiving along the way. Monk shattered Richard Smith’s UA record (33) for receptions by a freshman when he hauled in 37 balls for 569 yards and six touchdowns. He tied for the team lead in catches and garnered freshman All-SEC honors for his efforts.

Monk, the first 6-6 wide receiver in school history, also stood out in the classroom. The Lepanto, Ark., product was honored last December in New York by the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame for his academic performance in high school. He was chosen as the spokesperson to accept the award on behalf of the other three scholar-athletes honored.

So far this season, Monk has picked up right where he left off. Monk ranks second on the team with 23 catches for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Monk has made at least three catches in 11 of his 19 career games as a Razorback including four of eight games this season

Monk’s 35.75 receiving yards per game ranks him 20th in the SEC. His 2.88 receptions per contest rates him 20th in the SEC.

After making 20 receptions in his first five games, Monk has only racked up three catches in the last three games.

PEYTON AND THE PASSING GAME: Arkansas running back Peyton Hillis has become a prime target in the Hogs’ passing game. Hillis snared a career-high seven balls for 81 yards against No. 21 Auburn. His previous career high was four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown earlier this year against Vanderbilt. The following week he added five receptions for 41 yards against No. 4 Auburn.

Hillis has now tallied 28 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns on the season. He is the Hogs’ leading receiver through eight games. He has earned 15 of his 28 catches in the last three games. His 3.50 catches per game average ranks tied for 10th among SEC pass catchers. His ranks 30th in the SEC in receiving yards per game with 32.38.

Hillis has also been a steady contributor in the rushing attack as well. He ranks 20th in the SEC in rushing with an average of 34.13 yards per game.

RAZORBACK OFFENSE TIDBITS:

* Junior wide receiver Cedric Washington tied his season high with three catches for 73 yards against South Carolina. He also hauled in a career-long 47-yard pass from Casey Dick in the game.

* For the second time this season, Arkansas failed to score a rushing touchdown. The Razorbacks are 4-14 (.222) when they do not score at least one rushing touchdown since 1998.

* Freshman tailback Darren McFadden tied his career high with three receptions against South Carolina. McFadden also hauled in three catches against Auburn earlier this season.

RAZORBACK DEFENSE

PICKING IT UP IN LEAGUE PLAY: After a rough start that saw the Razorback defense yield 1,482 yards of total offense in the first three games (494.0 avg.) including 736 to Southern California in the third game of the season, the Arkansas defense has picked up the pace.

In the five games since that three-game stretch, the Hogs have yielded 1,468 yards of total offense for an average of 293.6 yards per game.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the league and 57th in the nation in overall total defense (368.8), but ranks sixth in the SEC in total defense in league play allowing an average of 309.8 yards per game.

FORCING INTERCEPTIONS: For the second time this season, Arkansas earned a pair of interceptions in a 34-17 loss to No. 21 Auburn. Michael Coe and Vickiel Vaughn each came down with a Brandon Cox pass in the first half. The Razorbacks also tallied two interceptions in a season-opening win over Missouri State.

Arkansas has forced an interception in five of its eight games this season. The Razorbacks have a total of seven team interceptions this season with Michael Coe owning three of those.

COE AMONG NATION’S BEST: Junior cornerback Michael Coe finds himself among the nation’s leaders in interceptions after eight games of the 2005 season. Coe leads the SEC with three interceptions and ranks tied for 31st in the nation with his 0.38 interceptions per game average.

Coe picked off his third interception of the season against No. 21 Auburn. He also owns interceptions against Missouri State and Vanderbilt this season.

SCOOP AND SCORE: When Arkansas’ defense pitches in on the scoreboard, it usually means good things for the Razorbacks especially in the Houston Nutt era. The Hogs are 10-2 since 1998 when the Razorback defense scores a touchdown. Arkansas has combined for seven interception returns and five fumble returns for touchdowns in those 12 games.

Darius Vinnett added an entry to that list in the 2005 season opener with a 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Hogs’ 49-17 win over Missouri State. It was the first fumble return for a score since teammate Marcus Harrison ran 18 yards with a fumble last season against Georgia.

OFF TO THE RACES: Senior cornerback Darius Vinnett made the most of his first fumble recovery of the season in the Hogs’ win over Missouri State. Vinnett picked up a fumble caused by teammate Sam Olajubutu and raced 44 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Bears. It was Vinnett’s second career fumble recovery after returning a loose ball four yards last year against Georgia.

It was the first fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by a Razorback since Marcus Harrison returned a fumble 18 yards in the same game last season against Georgia. Vinnett’s 44-yard fumble return was the longest by a Razorback since Corey G. Harris sped 46 yards with a fumble against Auburn in 2001.

HOW ‘BOUT ‘BUTU: Junior weakside linebacker Sam Olajubutu appears to have carried the momentum of a strong spring and fall camp into the 2005 campaign.

Olajubutu leads the Razorbacks and ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in tackles with an average of 10.63 stops per game. His average also places him 17th in the nation in rankings compiled by press box totals. Olajubutu ranks tied for 14th in the country in solo tackles per game with an average of 6.63 per contest.

Based on Arkansas coaches’ film, Olajubutu has compiled 96 tackles including 9.5 tackles for loss (-30). Vickiel Vaughn is next on the list with 60 tackles. Olajubutu has recorded double-digit tackle games in five of eight outings in 2005.

BUTU HITS:

* He ranks tied for 17th in the nation with an average of 10.63 stops per game. He rates second in the SEC with that average.

* He ranks 14th in the nation in solo tackles per game with an average of 6.63 solo stops a game.

* He ranks 90th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.06 per game) and 68th in the country in sacks (0.56 per game).

* He leads the Razorbacks with 96 tackles (coaches’ totals) including 9.5 tackles for loss (-30).

* He has eight double-digit tackle games in his career including five this season.

* He is averaging 10.25 tackles per game against ranked foes this season including 14 vs. No. 1 USC, 16 vs. No. 20 Alabama and 18 vs. No. 21 Auburn.

* Olajubutu tied for the team lead with 15 tackles on 57 defensive snaps in Arkansas’ 49-17 season-opening win over Missouri State. He made one tackle for loss (-2) and forced a fumble. He was credited with a forced fumble on a play in the first quarter that led to a UA touchdown. Razorback cornerback Darius Vinnett picked up the loose ball and raced 44 yards for a touchdown.

* He recorded eight tackles against Vanderbilt before racking up 14 tackles against No. 1 USC. Eleven of his 14 stops against the Trojans were of the solo variety.

* Against No. 20 Alabama, Olajubutu made 16 tackles including two tackles for loss (-10).

* He tied for the team lead with eight tackles, including a tackle for loss (-2) in the Hogs’ win over Louisiana-Monroe.

* He set a new career high with 18 tackles, including 12 solo stops, against No. 21 Auburn. He earned two tackles for loss (-10) and one sack (-9) against the Tigers.

BUTU ADDED TO LOMBARDI AWARD WATCH LIST: Arkansas linebacker Sam Olajubutu literally played his way onto the national scene after the Razorbacks’ first four games. The LaGrange, Ga., product was added to the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list on Oct. 3 by The Rotary Club of Houston.

The Rotary Lombardi Award is celebrating its 36th year of honoring the finest linemen in college football. The 2005 winner will be announced on Dec. 7 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Downtown Houston. To be eligible for the Rotary Lombardi Award, a player must play on the line of scrimmage (including tight ends on offensive) or must be a linebacker who lines up within five yards of the football.

An initial list, based on 2004 postseason and 2005 preseason honors, was compiled prior to the start of the season. Olajubutu was one of several players garnering recognition as a mid-season addition.

Olajubutu is the first Razorback to be named to the Lombardi Watch List since offensive tackle Shawn Andrews was one of four Lombardi Award finalists in 2003.

SIMS’ SUPER EFFORT: Junior defensive end Desmond Sims turned in a career-best performance against South Carolina. Sims racked up career highs in tackles (12), tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5) against the Gamecocks. Sims helped spearhead a defensive effort that yielded only 187 yards of total offense to a USC team that was averaging 325.4 yards per game coming into the contest.

Sims led the Razorbacks with his 12 tackles, including nine solo stops. It was the first double-digit tackle game of his career. He earned 4.5 tackles for loss (-49) and 2.5 sacks (-14). He tallied 2.5 of the Razorbacks’ season-high five sacks.

He forced a fumble on a sack of USC quarterback Blake Mitchell at the Gamecocks’ 30-yard line in the third quarter. Teammate Keith Jackson recovered the fumble for the Razorbacks.

ANDERSON MAKES BEST OF FIRST START: Sophomore defensive end Jamaal Anderson made the most of his first career start against No. 4 Georgia. Anderson earned a team-high seven tackles including five solo stops against the Bulldogs. He racked up 2.5 tackles for loss (-9) including a half sack (-2) against the Bulldogs. He recovered a Georgia fumble in the third quarter. The turnover led to a UA field goal.

Anderson took over the starting job when Anthony Brown was lost for the season due to injury. Anderson has 23 tackles this season including 4.0 tackles for loss (-18).

RAZORBACK DEFENSE TIDBITS:

* Arkansas tied a season high with four sacks against South Carolina. The Hogs also had four sacks against No. 4 Georgia.

* Freshman linebacker Freddie Fairchild tied a career-high with nine tackles against South Carolina. He made five solo stops and four assisted tackles along with earning a quarterback hurry. Fairchild has 46 stops including four tackles for loss (-22) on the season.

* Junior defensive tackle Keith Jackson tied his career high with 10 tackles against South Carolina. Jackson also earned 10 stops against Auburn earlier this season. Jackson earned a 0.5 sack (-6) and recovered the second fumble of his career against the Gamecocks

SPECIAL TEAMS

BALSEIRO SPLITTING THE UPRIGHTS: Senior placekicker Chris Balseiro appears to be making the most of his final season in a Razorback uniform. After missing his first attempt of the season from 44 yards, Balseiro has hit nine of his last 11 field goal attempts including a career-long tying 42-yard field goal against Louisiana-Monroe.

His 75.0 percent (9-12) field goal conversion percentage ranks tied for third among league kickers. His average of 1.12 field goals made per game places him fourth in the league and 50th in the nation.

The Miami, Fla., native has been almost automatic inside 40 yards in his career. He has made 20-of-24 field goal attempts from that range in his career including seven-of-eight from that range in 2005. His only miss this season from that range was on a blocked 38-yard attempt against Auburn.

Overall he has made 20 of his last 25 field goal attempts dating back to 2003. His nine field goals this season already have eclipsed his season output from 2004. Balseiro made four of seven attempts last season.

Balseiro has made 22 of 23 PAT attempts this season. He had converted 33 straight PAT until his first extra point against Louisiana-Monroe was blocked this season. He ranks fifth in the SEC in kick scoring with an average of 6.1 points per game. He ranks eighth in the league overall with that same average.

SKINNER HITTING STRIDE: Junior punter Jacob Skinner appears to be hitting his stride as the UA punter. Skinner has averaged more than 40 yards per punt in five of the Razorbacks’ eight games this season including a career-high 48.2 average against No. 4 Georgia.

Skinner topped the 40.0 yard average mark seven times in his first two seasons, but has never averaged more than 40 yards for a season. Thus far this season, Skinner has punted 35 times for 1,451 yards for an average of 41.5 yards per kick. He ranks seventh in the SEC and 40th in the nation with that average.

Skinner has landed 11 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line including at least one in seven of the Razorbacks’ eight games this season.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Arkansas freshmen Felix Jones and Darren McFadden are proving to be a threat not only in the backfield but on kickoff returns as well. Thanks in large part to the freshman duo, Arkansas ranks seventh in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 26.1 yards per attempt. Despite that average, Arkansas ranks third in the SEC in the category.

Jones is second in the SEC and rates 10th in the nation with an average of 29.0 yards per return. McFadden is averaging 24.9 yards per return this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS TIDBITS:

* Tailback Peyton Hillis earned his first tackle on special teams on the kickoff coverage team against South Carolina. Hillis tallied an assisted stop against the Gamecocks in his first game on that special teams’ unit.

* Hillis ranks fourth in the SEC in punt returns with an average of 9.8 yards per return.

COACHING STAFF

NUTT LEADS EAST INTO ALAMO CITY: Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt will lead an all-star squad representing the East in the 81st annual East-West Shrine Game set for Jan. 21, 2006 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Nutt and Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione will serve as the head coaches of the East and West squads, respectively. The game will be televised by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. CT.

The game, recently relocated to the Lone Star State from San Francisco, Calif., has been played annually for the benefit for the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children since 1923. The event showcases some of the top collegiate senior football players in the country while raising millions of dollars and visibility for Shriners Hospitals.

A total of 25 Razorbacks have participated in the East-West Shrine Game in its history. Nutt will be the first Razorback to coach in the game.

TENURED HOG: Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt is in his eighth season heading the Razorback football program. Nutt already ranks third in school history in length of tenure trailing only Frank Broyles (19) and Fred Thomsen (13) in years at the helm in Fayetteville.

Nutt also ranks as the second-longest tenured coach in the SEC behind only Tennessee’s Philip Fulmer (14). Since Nutt was hired at Arkansas in 1998, 29 other coaches have roamed the sidelines at the other 11 SEC schools combined. Seven of the 12 league schools have made coaching changes since 2002. Florida, Ole Miss, LSU and South Carolina all boast first-year coaches in 2005.

DEAN OF OFFENSIVE COORDINATORS: Houston Nutt also holds the distinction of being the longest-tenured offensive coordinator in the SEC. Nutt has spearheaded the offense and called the plays in all eight seasons with the Razorbacks.

The offensive recipe has obviously been successful as exhibited by the Hogs leading the league in scoring offense over the past three years (2002-04) with an average of 29.8 points per game. In addition, the Razorbacks lead the league in red zone efficiency (83.6%) and rank third in total offense (393.0 yards per game) in that same span.

Nutt has guided the Hogs to offensive success since he arrived in 1998. In the past seven seasons, Arkansas ranks as the No. 1 team in rushing offense (183.3 yards per game) and in turnover margin (+.476 turnovers per game). Arkansas has also been the top scoring offense in the SEC West in that seven-year stretch.

HERRING ARRIVAL: Arkansas will have a new look on defense in 2005 and it will have a new coordinator calling the shots as well. Houston Nutt lured Reggie Herring, the architect of the nation’s top defense last season at North Carolina State, to come to Fayetteville to join the Razorback program.

In 2004, Herring guided the Wolfpack to a dramatic turnaround on the defensive side of the ball. North Carolina State boasted the nation’s top ranking in total defense in 2004 allowing only 221.36 yards per game. In 2003 prior to Herring’s arrival, N.C. State ranked 89th in the country allowing 421.0 yards per contest.

North Carolina State also led the country in pass efficiency defense (91.77) and ranked second in total pass defense (119.0 ypg.). The Wolfpack defense rated ninth in rushing defense (102.36 ypg.) and 25th in the nation in scoring defense (19.82 ppg.).

Prior to his stint at N.C. State, Herring spent time at the collegiate level at Auburn, TCU, and Clemson and in the professional ranks with the Houston Texans. Nutt and Herring first worked together as graduate assistants at Oklahoma State.

As a player, Herring was a three-year starting linebacker at Florida State from 1978-80. While with the Seminoles, he played in three bowl games and was part of teams that finished in the top 15 for three consecutive seasons.

HERRING RANKED AMONG NATION’S BEST: New Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring was recently recognized as one of the top five defensive coordinators in the nation by Rivals.com. In an article published on Aug. 17, Herring was rated tied for fifth along with Penn State’s Tom Bradley in the informal ranking by Andrew Skwara. Skwara noted that Herring made a significant impact on North Carolina State’s defense in 2004 turning them from one of the lowest ranked defenses in the country to the top-ranked defensive unit in college football.

Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster was ranked as the top defensive coordinator in the nation by Rivals followed by Bo Pellini (LSU), Gene Chizik (Texas), Mickey Andrews (Florida State), Herring (Arkansas) and Bradley (Penn State).

HALL OF FAME ROCKER: Arkansas has its own Hall of Famer on the sideline in defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. One of the most decorated defensive linemen in college football history, Rocker won both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as a senior at Auburn. Last December, Rocker was honored by the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame in New York City.

In August, he was officially enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. Rocker became the 15th Razorback player or coach to be honored in the College Hall of Fame.

Other Razorback coaches enshrined include head coaches Hugo Bezdek (1954), Frank Broyles (1983) and Bowden Wyatt (1997) as well as assistant coaches Johnny Majors (1987), Barry Switzer (2001), Doug Dickey (2003) and Hayden Fry (2003). Former Razorback players inducted are Wear Schoonover (1962), Clyde Scott (1971), Lance Alworth (1984), Loyd Phillips (1992), Chuck Dicus (1999), Billy Ray Smith Jr. (2000) and Wayne Harris (2004).

Rocker also added to his resume last summer when he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. The Atlanta, Ga., native was honored June 12 in a ceremony in Birmingham, Ala.

NEW ADDITION: Arkansas wide receivers coach James Shibest and his wife Diana welcomed a new addition to the Razorback family earlier this fall. Jordyn Grace Shibest was born at 11:02 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 10 at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. She weighed in at 8 lb, 15 ounces. The Shibests also have a three-year-old son, J.J.

Download: 2005 Arkansas Game Notes – Ole Miss.pdf



Sports Category : Football