Brought to you again this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the neverending visual of our macho, meathead coach crying like a baby while hugging Trey Flowers literally seconds before his favorite son lead the most dominant defensive effort an Arkansas team has given since joining the SEC. That was a Top Ten team the Hogs played. They beat Alabama. And Arkansas came out and beat the hell out of them. From the first snap.
We saw an old school ass whooping. There's no other way to describe it.
How do you even begin to describe the performance of the defense on Saturday? They held Ole Miss to their second lowest yardage output of the season. They forced six turnovers, and turned them over on downs twice more. And they denied them a single, solitary point.
The Arkansas offense scored 23.
The Arkansas defense scored 7.
The #8 Ole Miss Rebels couldn't tally a point. They scored 0.
I have said it once or twice previously, but I can now say emphatically that this is the best defense I have ever seen Arkansas field, comparatively speaking, in my lifetime. They make plays at every level. There are playmakers on the line of scrimmage. There are playmakers at linebacker. And there are playmakers in the backfield. And they ALL made plays on Saturday.
Martrell Spaight had the game of his life against Ole Miss. After watching him improve this season and hearing him speak and seeing him lead his teammates, I don't know how he will be replaced. He is one I'll remember forever. It's just a damn shame Arkansas only got him for two seasons. 11 tackles. Forced a fumble. But more than anything else, he was just all over the field. I am so, so sad that I've watched him play his last game in Razorback Stadium, but man, what a way to go out.
I think you have to consider Spaight the player of the game, but doing so means you are ruling out three players with an interception, one of which was returned for a touchdown. It means you are ruling out Trey Flowers, who played in the Ole Miss backfield all damn day and notched a sack and a fumble recovery. It means you are ruling out Darius Philon, who forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and had a sack.
It was a total team effort defensively. And it was complete domination.
Offensively, it was classic Bert ball when it mattered for the second consecutive week. Brilliant first drive to grab the lead, and for the second consecutive week, that's all that the defense would need. The Arkansas offense scored twice as many points as Ole Miss typically allows, they controlled the clock, and they didn't turn the ball over until long after the game was no longer in doubt. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't dominant, but it was effective at what it needed to do. It broke any spirit Ole Miss brought to kickoff, and did it before three minutes had even run off the clock.
Hatcher. Collins. Hatcher. Touchdown. After that, it was obvious that Ole Miss was ready to spit the bit. And they spit it in quintessential Ole Miss fashion. The Rebels don't so much trip and stumble as much as they slip on a banana peel while carrying an armload of dishes and do a flip before face planting, complete with cartoon sound effects. The crash yesterday was real, and it was spectacular.
Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams with almost identical stat lines seems like a fitting way to cap the home slate this season. The Hogs have leaned on those two this year, often seemingly to the detriment of their yards per carry statistics, and they have delivered time after time. They have put us in position to win. All it took was the team learning how to finish. Now that they have, things may really take off for that tandem.
How good was Austin Allen? No. Seriously. He was asked to not screw things up, which is not that easy of a request when you think about it (amirite, Dr. Bo?), and he delivered against one of the best defenses in the country to the tune of six points and zero meaningful turnovers. Once again, let's mention that the entire Ole Miss team managed zero points for the entire game. Zero.
A few quick unrelated observations:
Even though his one return was pretty nondescript, I love Alex Collins returning kickoffs. Give a guy with vision as good as his plenty of time to see things developing in front of him and good things are going to happen. Go watch his lacrosse highlights from high school for a reminder of how good Collins can be with some space to work with.
I've been hard on Rohan Gaines this season, but I'll eat crow after yesterday. That pick six is one of those moments we will be talking about for decades. I was sitting in the south endzone, and it played out directly in front of me, and we were screaming for him to score before he even caught the ball.
I don't have the stats on it, but running the Wildcat seemed effective yet again. Now Chaney has added the threat of a pass out of it. If he can find a guy for that sweep action (bye, Korliss Marshall), I think that becomes a viable weapon. It gives us more blockers! You know how much Bert has to love the thought of that.
Now Arkansas travels to Columbia to take on a Mizzou team with even more to play for than Ole Miss supposedly had on Saturday. I love that. I want to see the Tigers' title hopes ripped out of their hearts by the team that they will surely learn to hate. That's what will make that game a rivalry. Not a title sponsor or a logo or a special schedule slot. No, it needs crushed dreams. Next Friday presents Arkansas an opportunity to do just that, and I really, really like their chances.
I'll see y'all next week.
Trent Wooldridge will be that guy with enough bourbon. He loves the S-E-C chant and honks because he hates Texas. He puts honey on his pizza, demands aisle seats, and sees quitting golf as more of a hobby than actually playing golf. Follow @twooldridge and track his quest to transform his four year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.