Arkansas Football Three Keys: Ole Miss


Arkansas faces Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford. Here are your three keys to an Arkansas win over Ole Miss.

By Matt Zemek

Arkansas and Ole Miss did not look very good in Week 1. This means both schools can improve in Week 2, but there are no guarantees. Given how poorly much of the SEC played in the first week of the season, it is very hard to trust either one of these teams. What can Arkansas do to not only inspire trust in the Hogs as the season moves ahead, but to win in Oxford and show that the trajectory of this season will be different from 2018?

Key 1 – Win Third Down, Especially On Defense

How many third downs did Ole Miss convert against Memphis? Exactly one. The Rebels looked terrible on offense despite being guided by new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, whose credentials as an offensive strategist are considerable. Remember that Rodriguez, before becoming a successful head coach at West Virginia and then Arizona (where he made the Fiesta Bowl and won a Pac-12 South Division title), was the offensive coordinator for the 1998 Tulane team which went 12-0 under then-coach Tommy Bowden. Rodriguez knows his way around the Xs and Os, which makes Ole Miss’ 10-point showing against Memphis that much more embarrassing. Third-down futility is why the Rebels were so bad last week. Arkansas’ defense needs to be at its best on third downs. That is how it can control the flow of the game and play this contest on its own terms.

Key 2 – Play Faster

Coaches often emphasize to their players the need to play fast. It is not just a matter of executing plays or making the right reads, but moving quickly and decisively so that the opponent has less time to react. This is not a point related to a no-huddle or fast-tempo offense. This is a point about moving swiftly and authoritatively on each play, making actions and responses so crisp and second-nature that the opponent is thrown off balance. The Chad Morris project at Arkansas cannot get off the ground if players aren’t “fast” in this particular respect. Arkansas showed a lot of rust in Week 1 against Portland State. That rust needs to be thrown aside in this game, with “playing faster” being the mantra the Hogs not only have to adopt, but apply in living color on the playing field.

Key 3 – Make The Plays That Are There

“Make plays” is too generic. It is overly broad. The expression is overused in football. Of course every team needs to make plays. The more precise point of emphasis here is that if – or when – Ole Miss is out of alignment or has a busted coverage or makes a specific mistake which opens up the possibility of a big play for Arkansas, the Hogs have to pounce. Arkansas is very unlikely to dominate this game. Victory will occur by taking advantage of each and every Ole Miss mistake when it comes. The Rebels will probably open the door for Arkansas on a handful of occasions in this game. When those few occasions emerge, Arkansas has to take advantage.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.

SEC Football Stories For This Week

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
W. Virginia vs. MissouriW. VirginiaMizzouPreviewMizzou 38, WVA 7Stats
C. Southern vs. S. CarolinaC. SouthernUSCPreviewUSC 72, CSU 10Stats
Tulane vs. AuburnTulaneAuburnPreviewAuburn 24, Tulane 6Stats
N. Mexico St vs. AlabamaNMSUBamaPreviewAlabama 62, NMSU 10Stats
USM vs. Mississippi St.Southern MissMSUPreviewMSU 38, USM 15Stats
Texas A&M vs. ClemsonClemsonTexas A&MPreviewClemson 24, A&M 10Stats
E. Michigan vs. KentuckyE. MichiganKentuckyPreviewUK 38, E Michigan 17Stats
UT Martin vs. FloridaUT MartinFLAPreviewFlorida 45, UTM 0Stats
BYU vs. TennesseeBYUTENPreviewBYU 29, TEN 26Stats
Arkansas vs. Ole MissOM / ARKARKPreviewOle Miss 31, Arkansas 17Stats
Murray State vs. GeorgiaMurray StUGAPreviewUGA 63, Murray St 17Stats
LSU vs. TexasTexasLSUPreviewLSU 45, Texas 38Stats
Vanderbilt vs. PurduePurdueVandyPreviewPurdue 42, Vandy 24Stats
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