Notes from the Field: Ole Miss-Arkansas Observations

Arkansas Expats had a special correspondent in the stands on Saturday in the form of my father, who brought paper and a pen to take notes on what we were hoping would be a glorious Razorback victory. Whoops. Although [understatement alert] things didn't exactly turn out like we hoped, he's a consummate professional and turned in his game report anyway...so read on for his in-person observations (and many thanks to him for his time and trouble):

It was a beautiful crisp sunny fall day in Oxford. Perfect weather for football for a game that was big for both teams.

My main concern about this game was this: would the Hogs come out flat after that devastating and demoralizing loss to the refs last week? Ok, I'm still bitter about that but I strongly feel the Hogs would have been victorious with a fairly officiated game....and what a HUGE, season-making win that would have been for the Razorbacks.

Of course, as we all now know, the Hogs DID come out flat. To say that that the Hogs were flat would be to say that the Kansas plains are....no, wait; I'll leave the metaphors to Wally Hall.

 

The Razorbacks were thoroughly whipped by Ole Miss and by themselves as well. Dexter McCluster had an all-world day vs a defense that sacked Tim Tebow six times but had zero vs Jevan Snead. Ryan Mallett had an off day, and his receivers had an atrocious day. Alex Tejada did well after an abysmal game last week, but our punter could probably play for most high schools.

Ole Miss received to start the game and promptly marched down the field for a touchdown, all on conservative play calls by Houston Nutt...runs and swing passes into the flat. All game long McCluster had no problem turning the corner for big yards. With first and goal from the one yard line, the Rebels ran two dive plays for no gain and I was hoping for a third, but Snead faked a handoff and the Hogs bit so hard on the fake that they couldn't have touched Snead with the proverbial ten foot pole on his naked bootleg for the score.

The Hogs went three and out and on their first possession, but started their next one with two first downs. On the following third down, the pass hit Cobi Hamilton on the chest but he dropped it (the beginning of an ongoing theme) and we had to punt from the Ole Miss 45 yard line. Our punter hit his best punt of the season (career?) - a high spiral into the end zone, but what really needed a pooch kick (his usual punt IS a pooch kick). Thus, it effectively was a 25 yard punt after the touchback.

The Rebels again drove down the field; on their only downfield pass of the half, Snead threw a perfect ball to his receiver streaking long down the left side line for a TD and 14-0.

The Hogs forced a fumble after another long Ole Miss drive, and after a nice play-action fake by Mallett, Jarius Wright was WIDE OPEN down the right side line; the pass hit him between the numbers on his jersey BUT he dropped it. Would have been a touchdown for sure had he held on to it. To say he was wide open would be like saying the Kansas plains are....no, no...I promised.

The Rebs marched once again to the 3-yard line but the Hogs held and Ole Miss had to settle for a FG: 17-0. With the half almost over, the Razorbacks finally got something going...a 40 yarder to Reggie Fish followed by a 25 yard slant to Greg Childs got us to the three and we easily scored from there: 17-7 at the half.

Second half: Hogs receive the kickoff but go three and out. A 38 yard punt puts Ole Miss in good position, but Andru Stewart tipped and intercepted a Snead bomb, then returned it 30 yds...a very nice play. This was followed by a 44 yd Tejada FG: 17-10. We were coming back! Mississippi fans (I was sitting in the Ole Miss section) shuffled uneasily in their seats and grumbled about previous games lost after leading.

The Razorbacks held the Rebs to a three and out after the kickoff...the Hogs are feeling it now! Mallett dropped back and unleashed a perfect 40 yd pass to Childs...which he dropped. After a 37 yard punt, Ole Miss had the ball again and, out of nowhere, McCluster took a screen pass 64 yds for a TD: 24-10. Ugh.

But wait! On the next series, after a 22 yd completion to Wright on a slant route, Mallett threw a 58 yd pass which was tipped by Childs and caught by Carlton Salters for a TD! Ok, we'll take a lucky score, what the heck: 24-17 and we're back in it.

After a 12 play drive by Ole Miss and a FG (27-17 now), the Hogs started a drive of their own; a 35 yd pass to Childs brought us to the Rebels' 19 yd line! It's the 4th quarter now and we HAVE to have points on this drive, at least a FG. Next, a delay of game penalty...back to the 24; ok, still in FG range. Mallett drops back to pass on third down...the blitz is coming....get rid of it, Ryan! Sack. Now 4th and forever from the 35 yd line. Tejada lines up for a, yes, 52 yard FG attempt....it's up, it hits the cross bar! BUT, it  bounces forward!!! FG good!!! Woo Pig Sooieee!! Except....another delay of game penalty...#%&*@...no FG.

Punt is shanked for 18 yds and the odor of a Hog loss permiated up from the field this point. Ole Miss again dominated with a 14 play drive for a FG: 30-17.

Only chance now is a quick TD, then an onside kick, then another TD for the come from behind victory! First down: pass to Salters...dropped. Second down pass...also dropped. Third down....sack. Enough already and I'm outta here. Who needs to sit there with Ole Miss fans celebrating?

It wasn't about the refs on this day. The Hogs got thrashed by the Rebs and themselves, and Nutt is 2-0 vs the Razorbacks. Maybe next year!

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