Arkansas-Ole Miss: 10 Things to Look For
In watching the early morning SEC matchup between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the homestanding Ole Miss Rebels, here are ten things to look for in the game:
1. Watch the referees. You won't see Marc Curles and crew. The "officiating" crew that wrapped up a victory for the Florida Gators last week in a big ol' "te-bow" has been suspended by the SEC for this week's games and won't work again until Nov. 14 at the earliest.
Given that two members of Marc Curles' crew worked the Arkansas-Ole Miss game last year in Fayetteville and a member of that crew who was out of position made a controversial offensive pass interference call against the Hogs, the officials will be under intense scrutiny.
2. Watch the left side of the Ole Miss offensive line. In games against non-hyphenated or directional schools, the Rebs' O line has protected QB Jevan Snead about as well as balloon boy's parents protected their child.
Oops, the whole thing was a fraud? So is Ole Miss, ranked No. 4 in the nation at one point and possibly about to fall to 4-3 with wins over a trio of cupcakes and Vandy.
3. Look for Ole Miss to come out of the tunnel last. In a bit of gamesmanship last year in Fayetteville, Houston Nutt held his visiting team, customarily the first squad to hit the field right before the game, in the tunnel until after Bobby Petrino and the Hogs came out.
I guess the man called "Hootie" by many critics in the Natural State couldn't bear to hear a few boos.
4. Watch for Ole Miss to try a few trick plays, particularly a reverse pitchback to Jevan Snead out of the Wildcat formation for a deep throw. Alabama burned the Arkansas defense with Greg McElroy throwing to Julio Jones after lining up at receiver.
Houston Nutt, not being the most creative guy, will at least try something along those lines.
5. How well the Hogs run the ball will be one of the keys to this game. Michael Smith had a big game against Ole Miss last year but has been slowed by a pulled hamstring. If Smith can't go, Dennis Johnson, dinged late last week against Florida, has to do a lot of double duty since Johnson is the Hogs' primary kickoff returner.
6. See No. 5. When Arkansas has the ball, watch to see how many yards the Hogs gain on first and second down. The Hogs are 116th in the nation at converting third downs, due in large part to penalties and lost yardage plays resulting in third and 10 or longer.
If Ryan Mallett is forced into a lot of long yardage situations, the Ole Miss rush could get several sacks.
7. If Mallett does get time to throw, the Hogs win easily. Ole Miss' achilles heel is the secondary. Starting corner Marshay Green has a lacerated kidney and may not play. Whether Green plays or not, Bobby Petrino will call some deep throws to test either he or his replacement.
8. If the Hogs get out to an early lead, Arkansas has outscored opponents in the first quarter 55-23, watch for cameras to pick up Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt biting his fingernails to a nub on the sidelines.
9. See what goofy thing Nutt says to the sideline reporter either going to the lockerroom at halftime or coming out for the second half, depending on who has the lead at break.
Listen for boos of Nutt who may be fast wearing out his welcome in Oxford if the Rebels lose at home. Never has a quarterback regressed any more from one year to the next than Jevan Snead from last season to 2009. Lack of protection is much of the problem, but even when Snead has had time, his throws have been high or behind receivers this year.
10. See which coach is wet at the end of the game. Nutt got a Gatorade bath after his return to Fayetteville last year. Bobby Petrino just might get one tomorrow, especially since Nutt celebrated as if he had won the national championship a year ago.
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