Arkansas Football: 5 Things We Learned from the Hogs' Win over South Carolina

Russell HarrisContributor IINovember 6, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 5:   DeQuinta Jones #92 of the Arkansas Razorbacks celebrates after recovering a fumble against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on November 5, 2011in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Gamecocks 44 to 28.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Alabama and LSU certainly played in the most hyped game of the week, but there was another top 10 match-up in the SEC this weekend with championship implications. The No. 7 Razorbacks took on No. 9 South Carolina in Fayetteville in a wild shootout that saw Arkansas come out on top 44-28. Here are some things we learned from the Hogs' performance Saturday night.


Arkansas' running back rotation is coming into focus

The most maligned unit of this Arkansas team this season has been the running back corps. The pressure and focus has been on this group since Knile Davis suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. The task of replacing him has fallen on the shoulders of Ronnie Wingo Jr., Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green.

While Johnson seems to be taking the lead in this group, it was apparent Saturday night that all three have a prominent roll in the offense, as each scored a touchdown against the Gamecocks. 

No one is going to label Arkansas a great running team, but they are now getting enough production to keep defenses from being able to just pin their ears back and come after quarterback Tyler Wilson.


Jake Bequette is finally making an impact

It has been a frustrating season for Arkansas' fifth-year defensive end Jake Bequette, as he has missed time with a hamstring injury and has since struggled to return to form. 

Saturday night, Bequette dominated the South Carolina offense, which tried three different tackles to keep Bequette in check. It didn't work. Bequette had three sacks, forced one fumble on the night and seemed to take out all his frustration on South Carolina when he destroyed Connor Shaw on a fourth quarter sack that ended Shaw's night. 

Not coincidentally, with Bequette back to form, the Arkansas defense turned in its best performance of the season, holding the Gamecocks to 207 total yards.

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 5:   Dennis Johnson #33 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on November 5, 2011in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Gamecocks 44 to 28.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images


Chris Gragg is coming into his own

One of the more daunting tasks for the Arkansas Razorbacks this season has been replacing the best tight end in college football from a year ago, D.J.Williams. There was enough uncertainty at the position in the preseason that Arkansas coaches moved Colton Miles-Nash from defensive end to tight end.

Saturday night, Miles-Nash was back with the defense as Chris Gragg has stepped up his game in the last few weeks and taken over the tight end position. Gragg had three catches for 55 yards, giving him 25 catches on the season. 

Not only is Gragg's production increasing, but it seems that more and more when Arkansas is facing a critical down-and-distance, it is Gragg for whom they are looking.


Arkansas still has a shot at its goals

Coming into the season, Arkansas' goals were to win the SEC West, the SEC championship and play for the BCS National Championship. Those goals looked all but lost when the Hogs dropped a game to Alabama earlier in the season.

Arkansas is now 8-1 on the season with winnable home games against Tennessee and Mississippi State before a season-ending showdown the Friday after Thanksgiving against LSU in Baton Rouge. That game has the possibility of being a top five match-up with SEC West title and BCS Championship implications. 

If Arkansas wins that game, it would be up to tiebreakers to determine who represents the SEC West in the SEC championship game. It's hard to tell how it all shakes out in that scenario, but if Arkansas wins out, they have to be in the BCS conversation.


Bobby Petrino is building a program

It seems that many in the media struggle to name Bobby Petrino among elite coaches in the nation, but how do you not at this point? Petrino took over a mediocre Arkansas program with a divided fan base when he took the job in December of 2007. In his first 19 games, the Hogs had only an 8-11 record, but the Razorbacks have won 23 out of their last 28 games for a winning percentage of 82 percent. 

Not only has Petrino led the Hogs' resurgence, but he has done it with different players.  The talent in Fayetteville is to the point that one All American graduates and another player steps in and takes over without any drop off. 

For examples, one need look no further than the job Tyler Wilson and Chris Gragg have done replacing Ryan Mallett and D.J. Williams.