HOGS HOST BULLDOGS IN FINAL HOME GAME: Arkansas will try to earn its second-consecutive league win this weekend when the Razorbacks host the Mississippi State Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. The SEC Western Division matchup is the final home game of the season for the Razorbacks and will kick off at 1 p.m. CT. The game is not televised.
The Razorbacks (3-6, 1-5 SEC) will be looking to parlay the momentum of last weekend’s 28-17 win at Ole Miss into another SEC victory.
The Bulldogs (2-7, 0-6 SEC) will return to the gridiron after an open date last weekend. In its last outing, Mississippi State dropped a 17-0 decision to Alabama on Nov. 5. Mississippi State’s wins came against Murray State and Tulane.
NOTING THE RAZORBACKS:
* Arkansas and Mississippi State will meet for the 16th time this weekend. Arkansas owns a 9-5-1 series advantage including wins in the last six-consecutive meetings and 11 of the last 12 contests. Arkansas is 6-1 against Mississippi State during Houston Nutt’s tenure (1998-2005).
* Arkansas will be looking to complete its sixth sweep of both the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the same season. Five times, the Razorbacks have recorded wins over the two Mississippi schools since Arkansas entered the SEC in 1992. The Hogs have claimed wins over both schools in 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
* Arkansas has played the fourth-toughest schedule in the nation according to NCAA rankings this week. Vanderbilt, USC, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss have combined to post a 43-22 record (.662). 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.
* Mississippi State head coach Slyvester Croom and Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell have spent more than eight years together in their college football careers. Croom played at Alabama while Campbell was a graduate assistant coach. The duo went on to coach together in two stints at Alabama and in one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
* Mississippi State offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, coordinator of football operations Rockey Felker and defensive line coach Brick Haley all spent time at Arkansas during their collegiate coaching careers.
* 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 18 true freshmen in the first nine games of the season. Of those 18 players, five true freshmen have earned a start on offense or defense including quarterback Casey Dick in each of the past two games.
SENIOR FAREWELL: Today’s game will mark the final home appearance for 12 Razorback seniors.
Seniors playing their last home game as a Razorback include placekicker Chris Balseiro, flanker Richard Bracken, linebacker Pierre Brown, tailback Kyle Dickerson, tight end Jared Hicks, tailback De’Arrius Howard, fullback Brandon Kennedy, linebacker Donald Meador, defensive end Clarke Moore, wide receiver Lerinezo Robinson, center Kyle Roper and free safety Vickiel Vaughn. Offensive tackle Zac Tubbs, wide reciever Dedrick Poole and cornerback Darius Vinnett are also seniors, but are eligible to apply for an extra season of eligibility due to injuries this season.
In the past four years, this senior class has combined for 25 wins including a pair of nine-win seasons, two bowl game appearances including a win in the Independence Bowl and an SEC Western Division Championship in 2002.
THE SERIES: Arkansas and Mississippi State will meet on the gridiron for the 16th time in history when the two teams meet this weekend in Little Rock. Arkansas owns a 9-5-1 advantage in the series including six-consecutive victories and 10 wins in the last 11 meetings. Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt is 6-1 against Mississippi State in his tenure with the Hogs.
The two teams met only twice before Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. Mississippi State won matchups in 1916 and 1939 in games played in Memphis, Tenn. Since joining the SEC, Arkansas has won nine out of 13 meetings with another ending in a tie.
This weekend’s game will mark the fourth time the two teams have played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The squads played to a 13-13 tie in 1993 while Arkansas won in 1995 (26-21) and 1999 (14-9).
MISSISSIPPI SWEEP: Arkansas will be looking to complete its sixth sweep of both the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the same season when the Hogs take the field this weekend. The Razorbacks recorded a 28-17 win over the Rebels last weekend in Oxford.
Five times, the Razorbacks have recorded wins over the two Mississippi schools since Arkansas entered the SEC in 1992. The Hogs have claimed wins over both schools in 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
ADDITIONAL SERIES TIDBITS: Arkansas has outscored Mississippi State 319-228 in the previous 15 games. . . .The teams first met in 1916 in Memphis, Tenn. . . .There have been nine games decided by a touchdown or less, with Arkansas holding a 7-2 advantage in those games. . . .Arkansas’ 46-point win in 2003 was the largest margin of victory in the series history.
LAST TIME AGAINST THE BULLDOGS: Arkansas held off a late Mississippi State rally and kept its postseason hopes alive with a 24-21 win at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville on Nov. 20, 2004.
The Hogs held a 17-14 lead at the intermission and used a 76-yard blocked field goal return by Pierre Brown to earn the win. It marked the first time in UA history a UA player had accomplished that feat.
Junior De’Arrius Howard rushed 29 times for a then career-high 125 yards and a touchdown. Junior Cedric Washington hauled in five catches for 101 yards while senior Steven Harris snared six balls for 71 yards. Junior Chris Balseiro hit a career-long 42-yard field goal to aid the Razorback cause.
LAST TIME IN ARKANSAS: After falling behind 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Razorbacks put up 21 points in the second quarter to cruise to a 52-6 victory over Mississippi State at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2003.
Arkansas racked up 576 yards of total offense, with 322 coming from the ground game. Cedric Cobbs led all rushers with 150 yards rushing on 30 carries.
CROOM AND CAMPBELL: Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell and Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom are more than just passing acquaintances. The two have spent more than eight years together during their respective college coaching careers.
The duo first met when Croom as a standout at the University of Alabama from 1972-74. Campbell was a graduate assistant under Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1973-74. Campbell was promoted to the full-time coaching staff as defensive backs coach in 1975 and was still in Tuscaloosa when Croom returned as a graduate assistant in 1976.
In 1977, Campbell left Alabama for SMU but returned to Alabama in time for the 1980 season. Croom (inside and outside linebackers) and Campbell (secondary) worked for Bryant on the same staff until the legendary coach retired in 1983. Both men stayed on to work for Bryant’s successor Ray Perkins. Campbell spent one season with Perkins before leaving for Oklahoma State in 1985.
The duo met up again with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1989. Croom was the running backs coach while Campbell was a defensive assistant.
DEFINING MOMENT: Campbell and Croom have shared a lot of the same experiences, but the two were together for one of the most defining days in college football history. The two Alabama assistant coaches remained on the Crimson Tide staff under Ray Perkins following Bear Bryant’s retirement.
On Jan. 26, 1983, Campbell and Croom were traveling in a car on a recruiting trip in Atlanta, Ga., when they received a call that their mentor, Paul "Bear" Bryant had passed away. Bryant died just 27 days after his final game as head coach. Campbell and Croom immediately returned to Tuscaloosa on a day that neither man will forget anytime soon.
GRIMES TIME: Mississippi State offensive line coach J.B. Grimes will be enjoying a homecoming of sorts when the Bulldogs travel to Little Rock for this weekend’s game. Grimes attended high school in Clarendon and earned his undergraduate degree from Henderson State in Arkadelphia.
He began his coaching career at Nashville (Ark.) High School before working at Des Arc (Ark.) High School. After a year at Northeast Louisiana, he worked as a graduate assistant for Lou Holtz at Arkansas in 1981. He stayed on as an offensive line assistant in 1982.
In 1989, Grimes returned to Fayetteville to serve as the offensive line and tight ends coach for Ken Hatfield. He remained at Arkansas as the offensive line coach through 1992 working for Jack Crowe (1990-91) and Joe Kines (1992). Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and director of football operations Louis Campbell both served on the same Arkansas staff from 1990-92.
ROCKEY ROAD: Mississippi State coordinator of football operations Rockey Felker also has a history with the Razorbacks. Felker worked for four seasons under Danny Ford at Arkansas from 1993-96. Felker worked with running backs in 1993 before working with quarterbacks from 1994-96.
Felker worked on the same staff as Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell (1993-96). It was the second time the two had worked together after sharing a coaching tenure at Alabama (1983-84).
A former head coach at Mississppi State (1986-90), Felker has served in his current position since 2002.
HOWARD SHINES AGAINST BULLDOGS: Senior tailback De’Arrius Howard has made the most of his opportunities against Mississippi State in his career. In three games against the Bulldogs, he boasts two 100-yard rushing games and two rushing touchdowns. In fact, two of his three top rushing days have come against the Hogs’ SEC Western Division rival.
As a freshman, Howard rushed for 121 yards on 25 carries in Arkansas’ 26-19 victory in Starkville. In his sophomore campaign, he tallied only six rushing attempts and two net yards but managed to score a touchdown against the Bulldogs.
Howard was back at it against Mississippi State as a junior in 2004. The West Memphis, Ark., product earned a then-career high 125 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries in the Hogs’ 24-21 win. Howard exceeded that career total earlier this season against Vanderbilt when he earned 139 yards on 21 rushing attempts.
RECORD-BREAKING RAZORBACK: Arkansas linebacker Pierre Brown secured his place in the UA record books in last year’s 24-21 win over Mississippi State in Starkville. Former Razorback defensive end Elliott Harris blocked the Bulldogs’ game-tying field goal attempt in the third quarter.
Brown scooped up the deflected kick and raced 76 yards for a touchdown. It was the first and only blocked field goal return for a touchdown in UA history. For his efforts, Brown was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.
OTHER UA-MSU CONNECTIONS:
* Mississippi State defensive line coach Brick Haley was a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1990. Haley also worked one season (1998) with Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring at Clemson. Haley was in charge of outside linebackers while Herring was defensive coordinator and worked with inside linebackers.
* Mississippi State defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring were on the same defensive coaching staff at Clemson from 1994-96. Johnson left Clemson for Alabama following the 1996 season and Herring took over as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator following the departure.
* Mississippi State linebackers and special teams coach Amos Jones and Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell first met up at the University of Alabama. Jones finished his Crimson Tide playing career in 1980 and then served two years as a graduate assistant. Campbell was the Tide’s secondary coach during that tenure.
* Mississippi State sophomore defensive back Adrian Griffin and Arkansas junior linebacker Sam Olajubutu played on the same high school team at LaGrange (Ga.) High School.
* Mississippi State wide receiver Jamayel Smith and Arkansas defensive tackle Marcus Harrison both played for Hargrave [Va.] Military Academy in 2003.
AT THE ROCK: Arkansas has been tough to beat at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, especially under Houston Nutt. The Hogs are 18-1 under the UA head coach since he took over the reins in 1998.
Arkansas won its first 17 games played in Little Rock under Nutt before losing to LSU in the 2004 season finale. The Hogs started a new streak earlier this season with a 44-15 win over Louisiana-Monroe.
In its history, Arkansas is is 155-62-3 (.711) in games played in Little Rock including a 136-51-2 (.725) record at War Memorial Stadium.
DENTING THE SCOREBOARD: Through the first nine games of the 2005 season, Arkansas has scored in 119 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 214 consecutive contests.
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 69 of Nutt’s 95 games (.726) as head coach. Arkansas is 51-18 (.739) when scoring 20 points or more including a 25-9 mark (.735) in the last four seasons.
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 18 true freshmen in the first nine games. Five of those 18 freshmen have started a game this season for the Hogs.
Defensive end Antwain Robinson became the 18th true freshman to play for the Hogs when he saw action against Ole Miss. In addition to Robinson, Stephen Arnold (PK), Cole Barthel (QB), Mark Bonner (CB), Casey Dick (QB), 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.
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 15-5 (.750) 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 32-18 (.640) 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 – 1-1
Total – 21-11
HOGS’ SCHEDULE RANKED FOURTH IN THE NATION: Arkansas has played the nation’s fifth-toughest schedule so far according to NCAA rankings. Vanderbilt, USC, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss have combined to post a 43-22 record (.662). 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.
Overall, Arkansas ranks fifth in the toughest schedule category when past opponents and future opponents are taken into consideration. The Razorbacks’ opponents are a combined 51-30 (.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.
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 fell out of the top 10 for the first time this season in this week’s statistical rankings. Arkansas hadn’t dropped below sixth in the nation prior to this week.
Even after only earning 89 yards rushing last weekend against Ole Miss, the Hogs are still averaging 233.78 yards per game on the ground through the first nine 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 eight opportunities this season. In addition, Arkansas rushed for 483 yards against Missouri State in the season opener.
The only times the Hogs have failed to reach the opponent’s rush defense average was against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. Arkansas rushed for 194 yards against Vanderbilt after the Commodores had given up 274 yards in their season opener. The Hogs gained 89 yards rushing against Ole Miss when the Rebels were averaging 139.5 yards rushing a game coming in to the Arkansas game.
In fact, freshman tailback Darren McFadden has single-handedly topped the Hogs’ opponents’ average in five of eight 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’ 233.8 average out-distances second-ranked Auburn (209.1 ypg.) by more than 24 yards per game. Arkansas is also leading in yards per attempt with 5.2 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 nine 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.
RUSHING TO PAYDIRT: Arkansas pulled off a rare feat in last weekend’s 28-17 win over Ole Miss. The Razorbacks won a game in which they didn’t score a rushing touchdown.
Last weekend’s win marked only the fifth time in 19 ocurrences that the Hogs have won a game without a rushing score in the Houston Nutt era. The Razorbacks scored on an interception return and three passing touchdowns in their win over the Rebels.
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 is now 5-14 (.263) when they do not score at least one rushing touchdown since 1998. Arkansas is 51-24 (.680) when scoring at least one rushing touchdown since 1998.
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 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 sixth in the SEC and rank 61st in the nation averaging 371.9 yards per game.
Arkansas is 11h in the nation in rushing offense (233.8 ypg) and ranks 108th (138.1 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.
RISING STAR: Freshman Darren McFadden is off to a torrid start in his Razorback career. The North Little Rock, Ark., product posted four-consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts earlier this season and was recently named the SEC Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks for his efforts against No. 21 Auburn and No. 4 Georgia.
McFadden has rushed for 70+ yards in seven of his nine collegiate games including a 190-yard effort against Georgia, a 187-yard outing against South Carolina, a 125-yard effort against Louisiana-Monroe and a 108-yard performance against Auburn.
RANKING AMONG THE NATION’S BEST: Arkansas freshman tailback Darren McFadden ranks among the top freshman running backs in the nation in nearly every statistical category.
McFadden ranks third overall among the nation’s freshmen with 99.0 rushing yards per game. He ranks tied for second with four 100-yard rushing games with two of those efforts coming against ranked opponents. His 6.8 yards-per-carry average also ranks second among freshmen.
McFADDEN AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS IN RUSHING: Darren McFadden finds himself among the SEC rushing leaders again this week with his average of 99.0 yards per game.
McFadden actually led the SEC last week with a 108.6 yard average, but tallied only 22 rushing yards against Ole Miss last weekend. He now ranks fourth in the league trailing Auburn’s Kenny Irons (110.2), Kentucky’s Rafael Little (108.1) and Alabama’s Kenneth Darby (107.2).
McFadden is attempting to become only the third freshman to lead the SEC in rushing. Only Georgia’s Herschel Walker (1980) and Florida’s Emmitt Smith (1987) have led the SEC in rushing as freshmen.
Seven Razorbacks have led the league in rushing in school history. Cedric Cobbs was the last and the only one to lead the SEC when he topped the league in 2003 with an average of 110.0 yards per game. No UA freshman has ever led the league in rushing.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000 QUICKLY: Darren McFadden has an opportunity to break Ben Cowins school record for fastest trek to 1,000 yards. Cowins reached the 1,000-yard mark on his 147th rushing attempt of the season. No other Razorback has reached 1,000 yards in less than 160 attempts.
McFadden has 891 yards on 131 rushing attempts so far this season. He would need 109 yards on no more than 15 attempts to break the mark.
IN SEARCH OF 1,000: McFadden needs only 109 yards to become only the seventh Razorback in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The previous six Razorbacks have combined for a total of nine 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Ben Cowins rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times in his career while Dickey Morton accomplished the feat twice.
Madre Hill, Cedric Cobbs, Fred Talley and James Rouse all recorded one 1,000-yard season. McFadden could become the third Razorback in the last four seasons to reach that mark after Talley (2002) and Cobbs (2003) both achieved their 1,000-yard campaigns under Houston Nutt.
McFadden would be the first UA freshman ever to top the 1,000-yard plateau.
SEC 1,000-YARD FRESHMAN CAMPAIGNS: Even in a league with the rich history of the Southeastern Conference, only six times has a freshman rushed for 1,000 yards or more in a season.
Legendary running backs Herschel Walker and Emmitt Smith were the first two to accomplish the feat in 1980 and 1987, respectively. The last freshman in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards was LSU’s Justin Vincent in 2003.
If McFadden could reach the milestone, he would also be only the 69th freshman in NCAA history to reach that milestone. Northwestern’s Tyrell Sutton and Central Michigan’s Ontario Sneed became the 67th and 68th freshman to rush for 1,000 yards earlier this season.
RECORD-BREAKING FRESHMAN: Darren McFadden is already re-writing the UA freshman record book. With his four 100-yard rushing efforts this season, he became the only UA freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game four times in his first season as a Razorback. Only Matt Jones and current teammate Felix Jones have as many as two 100-yard rushing games in their freshman campaign.
McFadden broke Darryl Bowles (169) single-game rushing record by a freshman when he tallied 190 yards against No. 4 Georgia. In the process he also passed Cedric Cobbs (668) for the UA freshman single-season rushing mark.
He is also closing in on the UA freshman rushing touchdown record. James Rouse scored nine ground touchdowns in 1985. McFadden has eight touchdowns in the Hogs’ first nine games.
McFadden Freshman Records Broken
Single Game – Rushing
190 – Darren McFadden vs. Georgia, 2005
Previous Record: 169 – Darryl Bowles vs. Texas A&M, 1979
Season – Rushing
891 – Darren McFadden (Through 9 games)
Previous Record: 668 – Cedric Cobbs, 2002
100-Yard Rushing Games
4 – Darren McFadden, 2005
Previous Record: 2 – Matt Jones (2001) and Felix Jones (2005)
TWO-GAME TOTAL: When it comes to back-to-back rushing performances, only former Razorback tailback Fred Talley can match what Darren McFadden accomplished in games against No. 4 Georgia and South Carolina.
McFadden rushed for 190 yards against Georgia and then followed it up with a 187-yard outing against South Carolina. His total of 377 yards in a two-game span ranks second in school history only behind a 423-yard stint by Talley in 2002. Talley rushed for 241 yards against Auburn and then 182 against Kentucky that season.
Ironically, Talley returned to Fayetteville for the Homecoming game against South Carolina and watched McFadden take aim at his school-record mark.
McFadden is also chasing another school record held by the former Razorback. Talley boasted four games of 180+ yards rushing in his Razorback career. McFadden is one of only five UA running backs to earn at least two games of 180 or more yards. Dickey Morton, Ben Cowins, Madre Hill and McFadden all have two entries on that list.
ACCUMULATING ACCOLADES: Darren McFadden is not only racking up rushing yards this season, he is picking up plenty of individual awards as well. McFadden has twice been named the SEC Freshman of the Week earning the honor in back-to-back weeks for his performances against No. 21 Auburn and No. 4 Georgia.
McFadden added a national award to his resume when he was selected as the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week after a 190-yard two touchdown outing against the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs.
VERSATILE PERFORMER: Darren McFadden also ranks among the nation’s leaders in all-purpose yardage. McFadden ranks second in the SEC and 34th in the nation with an average of 129.2 all-purpose yards per game.
In addition to his 891 rushing yards, McFadden has racked up 28 yards receiving and 244 yards on kickoff returns.
MORE ON McFADDEN:
* He leads the team with 891 yards and eight touchdowns on 131 carries through nine games.
* He has earned 70+ yards in seven of his nine collegiate games. He earned only one rushing attempt against Vanderbilt (6).
* He ranks fourth in the SEC and 29th in the nation averaging 99.0 yards per game.
* His 6.8 yards-per-carry average is the highest of any SEC running back listed in the top 10 in rushing yards. Teammate Felix Jones has the next highest average at 6.5 yards per carry.
* He ranks third in the SEC in rushing touchdowns with eight. Seven of his eight scores have come in the last six games including two touchdown efforts against Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn and Georgia.
* He has led the Hogs in rushing yardage in six of the last seven games including against No. 1 USC, No. 4 Georgia, No. 20 Alabama, No. 21 Auburn and South Carolina.
DON’T FORGET FELIX: Sometimes overshadowed by the remarkable season of his fellow freshman tailback Darren McFadden, Felix Jones is quietly posting an outstanding campaign as a tailback and kick returner.
Jones ranks fourth in the SEC and 49th in the nation with an average of 118.6 all-purpose yards per game.
He ranks first in the SEC and eighth in the nation in kickoff return average with a 29.0 clip. He has returned 14 kickoffs for 406 yards including a long of 67 yards against No. 1 USC.
Jones ranks 10th in the SEC and 97th in the country with an average of 61.1 yards per game on the ground. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, second only to McFadden (6.8) among the SEC’s top 10 rushers. He has 550 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries.
He is only the third UA freshman to rush for 100 yards or more twice in his first season. Jones tallied 137 yards in the season opener against Missouri State before collecting 102 yards against Louisiana-Monroe. Only former Razorback quarterback Matt Jones and current UA freshman running back Darren McFadden can lay claim to that accomplishment in UA history. McFadden holds the school record with four 100-yard rushing efforts.
OTHER JONES NOTES:
* Jones ranks second on the team in rushing with 550 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries.
* He has earned 60 or more yards rushing in five of nine contests including two of the last three games against Georgia and South Carolina. He earned 50 yards on the ground against Ole Miss.
* His 61.1 yards per game average ranks 10th in the SEC and 97th 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 AMONG NATION’S BEST IN KO RETURNS: In addition to his rushing production, freshman Felix Jones has given the Hogs a new weapon on kickoff returns.
Jones leads the SEC and is eighth 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 nine games.
Opponents have taken notice and are kicking it away from the freshman. Jones hasn’t returned a kickoff in four of the last five games, including the last three-consecutive 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.
RED-HOT ROOKIE: Arkansas freshman quarterback Casey Dick earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his performance in the Razorbacks’ 28-17 win over Ole Miss. Dick captained three second-half scoring drives to lead the Hogs to a come-from-behind win at Oxford.
Dick completed 17-of-24 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He completed only five of his first 12 pass attempts before connecting on 12 consecutive passes down the stretch for 154 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Marcus Monk for a pair of touchdowns from 24 and 23 yards and connected with Peyton Hillis for a four-yard touchdown.
His .708 completion percentage ranks tied for 10th on the UA single game completion percentage chart (minimum 20 attempts). He completed passes to six different receivers including multiple balls to five targets.
Dick became the third Razorback to win the SEC freshman award. Tailback Felix Jones won the award for his performance in the season opener against Missouri State. Tailback Darren McFadden claimed the honor in back-to-back games against Auburn and Georgia.
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.
MONK ON THE RECEIVING END: Sophomore Marcus Monk has been patiently waiting for the Hogs’ passing game to gear up this season. That patience paid off in the Razorbacks’ 28-17 win over Ole Miss.
Monk hauled in five catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over the Rebels. Monk was on the receiving end of touchdown passes of 24 and 23 yards from freshman quarterback Casey Dick.
His five-catch total tied for the second-most receptions in a game during his career. He earned a career-high seven catches last season against South Carolina.
It marked the third time Monk has recorded two receiving touchdowns in a game joining the 2004 Louisiana-Monroe and 2005 Southern California games.
Monk ranks second on the team with 28 catches for 349 yards and six touchdowns. Monk has made at least three catches in 12 of his 20 career games as a Razorback including five of nine games this season
Monk’s 38.78 receiving yards per game ranks him 27th in the SEC. His 3.11 receptions per contest rates him 17th in the SEC as well.
PEYTON AND THE PASSING GAME: Arkansas running back Peyton Hillis has become a prime target in the Hogs’ passing game. Hillis leads the Razorabcks with 32 receptions for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Hillis has racked up 19 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games including a a career-high seven balls for 81 yards against No. 21 Auburn.
Hillis has now tallied 28 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns on the season. His 3.56 catches per game average ranks 10th among SEC pass catchers. His ranks 27th in the SEC in receiving yards per game with 33.33.
Hillis has also been a steady contributor in the rushing attack as well. He ranks 19th in the SEC in rushing with an average of 31.89 yards per game.
FILLING IN UP FRONT: Junior Jeremy Harrell saw his first significant playing time at offensive guard against Ole Miss. Harrell played 41 snaps at right guard against the Rebels earning a 93 percent grade on passing plays. The former defensive tackle was switched to the offensive line prior to the Georgia game to help the depth up front.
Jonathan Luigs started at right guard, but was forced to man the center position when starting center Kyle Roper was unable to continue due to injury. Harrell filled in admirably and could earn his first start at the position this weekend if Roper is not available to play.
RAZORBACK OFFENSE TIDBITS:
* Junior wide receiver Cedric Washington earned three catches for the third time in four games with three receptions for 53 yards against Ole Miss. He also hauled in three catches for 73 yards against South Carolina and three catches for 58 yards against Auburn.
* Sophomore Cedric Logan tied his career high with two catches for eight yards against Ole Miss. Logan earned two receptions for 17 yards and a touchdown against Louisiana-Monroe earlier this year.
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 six games since that three-game stretch, the Hogs have yielded 1,794 yards of total offense for an average of 299.0 yards per game.
Arkansas ranks 10th in the league and 53rd in the nation in overall total defense (364.0), but ranks sixth in the SEC in total defense in league play allowing an average of 312.5 yards per game.
BUCKLING UP AGAINST THE RUN: Arkansas’ defense has been stingy against the run as of late holding its last three opponents to under 100 yards in team rushing. In fact, the Hogs have allowed only 107 yards rushing in the last three games.
No. 4 Georgia managed only 52 yards on 30 carries while South Carolina netted 45 yards on 33 attempts. The Razorbacks really put the clamp down on Ole Miss yielding only 10 rushing yards to the Rebels on 34 carries.
The 10 yards allowed against Ole Miss ranked tied for 10th fewest yards given up by a Razorback defense. It was the fewest since Arkansas held Texas to a school-record -27 yards rushing in the 2000 Cotton Bowl.
Arkansas ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed in conference games. The Hogs are limiting opponents to an average of 99.7 yards per contest.
SACK PARTY: The Razorbacks are turning up the heat on opposing quarterbacks. Arkansas has netted 13 sacks in the last three games for a combined 86 yards in lost real estate.
Arkansas racked up four sacks against Georgia (-14) and South Carolina (-30) before tallying a season-high five sacks (-42) in a win over Ole Miss. The Hogs earned a total of 12 tackles for loss (-60) against the Rebels.
Arkansas now has tallied 25.0 sacks for 177 yards. The Hogs’ total ranks tied for fifth among league teams. Arkansas’ 22 sacks in league play is tied for second with Florida and Georgia. LSU leads the SEC with 27 sacks in SEC games.
FORCING INTERCEPTIONS: Arkansas’ secondary was back at it again in the Razorbacks’ 28-17 win over Ole Miss. The Hogs picked off two Ole Miss passes including returning one for a touchdown in the first half.
Strong safety Randy Kelly snared his first career interception and raced 42 yards for a touchdown to put Arkansas on the scoreboard on the final play of the first quarter. In the second quarter, free safety Vickiel Vaughn halted a Rebels’ offensive drive with an interception inside Arkansas territory.
The Ole Miss game marked the third time this season Arkansas has picked off a pair of opponent passes. The Razorbacks also snared two interceptions against Missouri State and Auburn.
Arkansas has forced an interception in six of its nine games this season. The Razorbacks have a total of nine 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 nine games of the 2005 season. Coe leads the SEC with three interceptions and ranks tied for 40th in the nation with his 0.33 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 11-2 since 1998 when the Razorback defense scores a touchdown. Arkansas has combined for eight interception returns and five fumble returns for touchdowns in those 13 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.
Randy Kelly found the end zone in the Razorbacks’ 28-17 win over Ole Miss. Kelly raced 42 yards for a score on his first career interception against the Rebels.
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 third in the Southeastern Conference in tackles with an average of 10.0 stops per game. His average also places him 24th 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 6.33 per contest.
Based on Arkansas coaches’ film, Olajubutu has compiled 105 tackles including 10.5 tackles for loss (-33). Vickiel Vaughn is next on the list with 71 tackles. Olajubutu has recorded double-digit tackle games in five of nine outings in 2005.
* He ranks tied for 24th in the nation with an average of 10.0 stops per game. He rates third in the SEC with that average.
* He ranks 14th in the nation in solo tackles per game with an average of 6.33 solo stops a game.
* He ranks 87th in the nation in tackles for loss (1.06 per game) and 86th in the country in sacks (0.50 per game).
* He leads the Razorbacks with 105 tackles (coaches’ totals) including 10.5 tackles for loss (-33).
* 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 35 tackles this season including 7.5 tackles for loss (-41).
ACTION JACKSON: Junior defensive tackle Keith Jackson is quickly becoming a nuisance for offenses in the SEC. Jackson is the only Razorback defensive tackle to start every game this season and has picked up his game, especially in the last month.
Jackson has recorded 10 tackles three times in his last four outings including last weekend against Ole Miss. Of his 10 tackles against the Rebels, seven were of the solo variety including two tackles for loss (-11) and one sack (-9). He also forced a fumble in the Hogs’ victory.
Jackson also tallied a career-high 10 tackles against Auburn and South Carolina earlier this season.
He ranks fourth on the squad with 59 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss (-28) and 2.5 sacks (-22).
RAZORBACK DEFENSE TIDBITS:
* Senior linebacker Pierre Brown turned in his third double-digit tackle game of the season with 13 stops against Ole Miss. Brown earned nine solo stops including an eight-yard sack to halt the Rebels on their final offensive drive. Brown tallied 15 tackles against Missouri State and Auburn earlier this season.
* Freshman linebacker Freddie Fairchild tied his career-high with two tackles for loss (-6) in the Hogs’ win over Ole Miss. Fairchild has 51 stops including six tackles for loss (-28) on the season.
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 fourth among league kickers. His average of 1.00 field goals made per game places him sixth in the league and 63rd 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 26 of 27 PAT attempts this season. He had converted 33 straight PAT until his first extra point against Louisiana-Monroe was blocked this season. He ranks sixth in the SEC in kick scoring with an average of 5.9 points per game.
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 six of the Razorbacks’ nine games this season including in four of his last five games. He garnered 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 41 times for 1,723 yards for an average of 42.0 yards per kick. He ranks fifth in the SEC and 31st in the nation with that average. The last UA punter to average more than 40.0 yards a punt for the season was Richie Butler (42.5) in 2001.
Skinner has landed 13 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line including at least one in eight of the Razorbacks’ nine games this season. His towering punts have forced 14 fair catches 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 fifth in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 25.86 yards per attempt. Despite that average, Arkansas ranks third in the SEC in the category.
Jones leads the SEC and rates eighth in the nation with an average of 29.0 yards per return. McFadden is averaging 24.4 yards per return this season.
HILLIS MAKING HIS MARK: Sophomore tailback Peyton Hillis is already making his presence felt on UA special teams. Hillis is the Hogs’ primary punt returner and now has added the role of kickoff coverage to his resume.
In the Razorbacks’ 28-17 win over Ole Miss, Hillis made two tackles on the kickoff coverage team holding the Rebels inside their 20-yard line on both kicks. He also returned three punts for 34 yards including a career-long 27 yard return in the third quarter.
Hillis leads the Hogs with a total of 14 punt returns for 142 yards. His 10.1 yards per return average ranks fourth in the SEC and 38th in the nation.
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.