Linebacker Otha Peters became Arkansas’ 18th first-time starter this season when he replaced Terrell Williams at middle linebacker against South Carolina on Saturday.
The freshman had been playing in recent weeks in a linebacking corps depleted by injuries. Converted defensive end Tenarius Wright started the season in the middle but was injured in preseason drills and never fully recovered. Alonzo Highsmith moved from the outside position to the middle, but suffered a season-ending injury against Auburn. Highsmith was replaced in the lineup by Williams, who was arrested last week for driving while intoxicated. He is suspended from the team.
Peters led Arkansas tacklers Saturday with eight, four unassisted.
Out of Covington, Peters was rated as the No. 4 player in Louisiana last year.
Against Tulsa, Arkansas started redshirt freshman Mitchell Loewen at tight end — the 17th first-time starter this season. Loewen is listed as an offensive tackle, but was on the field for the first play at tight end against Tulsa.
Along with Loewen, other offensive first-time starters for Arkansas in 2012 are Jonathan Williams, Kody Walker, Brandon Mitchell, Mekale McKay, Morgan Linton, David Hurd, Tyler Deacon, Brey Cook, Luke Charpentier and Brandon Allen.
Other first-time defensive starters this season have been linebacker A.J. Turner, Alan Turner, Rohan Gaines, Will Hines, Kaelon Kelleybrew and Dayvon McKinney.
Against The East
South Carolina broke the Arkansas streak for victories against Southeastern Conference teams from the Eastern Division. It was the first such loss in the last nine games. Florida defeated Arkansas at The Swamp, 23-20, in 2009.
Arkansas’ eight-game win streak against teams from the Eastern Division was the longest active streak against inter-division rivals. It also was Arkansas’ longest streak against rivals from the East in school history. Its previous longest streak against Eastern Division teams was three, set in 1992-93.
Arkansas was outscored 7-0 in the first quarter Saturday — a stanza that generally has been good for the Razorbacks. Then came the second period, which has been a disaster for Arkansas all season. South Carolina outscored the Razorbacks 14-10 in the second. This season, the Razorbacks have been outscored 112-79 in all second quarters combined.
Counting Saturday, Arkansas has outscored opponents 89-35 in all first quarters, including 75-7 in the last six games prior to South Carolina. Prior to Saturday’s game, Arkansas was outscored 72-21 in second quarters.
Holmes On Return
Nate Holmes, who moved back from defense to offense last week, was deep for Arkansas on kickoff returns, replacing Dennis Johnson, and had two for 38 yards against the Gamecocks. Holmes had been the Razorbacks’ punt returner much of the season. Holmes also played some on offense, running for 8 yards on his first carry from scrimmage. He ended with three carries for 13 yards.
Johnson has handled kickoff returns most of his career at Arkansas and leads the Southeastern Conference in all-purpose yards with 5,084 career prior to Saturday.
Keon Hatcher, the freshman from Owasso, Okla., a suburb of Tulsa, caught his first pass of the season at an opportune time. A 6-yard TD pass from Tyler Wilson to Hatcher came with 8:12 left in the first half, tying the score at 7. One rating service had Hatcher as the No. 4 prospect out of Oklahoma last year. He came to Arkansas following consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons at Owasso.
There is no question Marcus Lattimore may be one of the most revered players ever at South Carolina. Lattimore, the Gamecocks’ leading rusher, missed his first game this season against the Razorbacks after suffering a severe right knee injury two weeks ago in the first half against Tennessee. He has undergone surgery on the knee and has begun rehabilitation.
Lattimore injured his left knee in the seventh game last season and missed the rest of the year. Although not in attendance as a result of doctors’ orders, he was honored during the first timeout at the Gamecocks’ homecoming game Saturday for setting the school record for career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He talked to fans via the stadium video board, saying he was feeling good and already working to get back on the football field.
Lattimore has 38 rushing touchdowns and 41 overall. George Rogers and Harold Green are tied for second with 31 rushing TDs and 33 overall.
“I think our fans need to know that,” Spurrier said early in the week leading up to the game against Arkansas. At that point, Spurrier thought Lattimore would be at the game.
Despite his second injury-shortened season, the junior is sixth all-time on the South Carolina list of rushers with 2,677 yards. He’s had 11 games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards, which puts him in a tie for second, behind Rogers.
The Arkansas record book is sprinkled with Cobi Hamilton’s name, but the mark that seldom is mentioned is that he has caught a pass in 32 straight games. That is the longest active streak in the Southeastern Conference and ranks No. 11 in the nation among active players.
Zach Hocker’s 20-yard field goal in the second period made him the all-time points leader at Arkansas. The 3-pointer put Hocker at 281 points in his career, breaking the record of 280 held by Steve Little, who played from 1974-77. Hocker, of Russellville, joined the team as a freshman punter, but beat out Alex Tejada and Eddie Camara to earn the role of placekicker.
South Carolina Safety D.J. Swearinger got two 15-yard penalties on two plays — one for a horse collar tackle and the next for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the next play, he intercepted a Wilson pass and scored a 69-yard TD, then threw the ball into the stands for another unsportsmanlike penalty.
South Carolina was the third straight team to have an extra week to prepare for Arkansas. Ole Miss had an extra week, but so did the Razorbacks before the two teams played on Oct. 27. Tulsa was coming off a bye week before it ventured into Fayetteville, and South Carolina’s last game was two weeks ago vs. Tennessee.
Including Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe, who both opened their seasons against the Razorbacks, Arkansas had seven games on its schedule this season in which the opponent did not play the week prior.
In 2009, Arkansas played in four games that kicked off before noon in the Central time zone, the most ever until this season. The South Carolina game marked the fifth time in the 2012 campaign games began before noon Central. Arkansas will extend the record to six next week against Mississippi State in an 11:21 a.m. game on the SEC Network — the fourth such game.
Arkansas-Auburn was an 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN2; the South Carolina 11 a.m. game was telecast by CBS as part of a doubleheader.
Arkansas has not been very successful in games played on Nov. 10. The record stands at 5-10-1 after the loss the South Carolina. The last meaningful victory on Nov. 10 was in 1984 — Ken Hatfield’s first season as coach — when Arkansas defeated Baylor, 14-9, on its way to a 7-4-1 regular season record.