1. Early Success
Arkansas has struggled to move the football in two straight games, combining to score only 17 points in losses to Florida and South Carolina.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas turned in its worst performance of the season last Saturday, suffering through a lackluster 52-7 home loss to South Carolina.
The next task doesn’t exactly stir much confidence the Razorbacks’ struggles will end Saturday, either. But Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said wiping out the notion there’s no hope against No. 1 Alabama has been emphasized to his fragile team.
1. Thomas Out, Philon In
Arkansas defensive tackle Robert Thomas underwent surgery to repair the broken bone in his left left Sunday night, according to coach Bret Bielema.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long isn’t simply a member of the College Football Playoff’s Selection Committee.
He has been elected as its first chairman.
Five Keys Review
1. Win Turnover Battle — Not Accomplished
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Alex Collins eyed the end zone in the fourth quarter Saturday, racing to the goal line in hopes of ending South Carolina’s dominant run of 45 unanswered points.
The freshman nearly got there, too, but was hit by a South Carolina defender as he tried to put the finishing touches on a 30-yard run. The ball slipped out of Collins’ hands and hit the pylon at the goal line. The play was ruled — and confirmed by replay — a fumble and touchback.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against No. 14 South Carolina with a touchdown on the opening drive of the game.
Then it was the Gamecocks turn. And again. And again.
South Carolina 10
Arkansas fans may remember the name Kane Whitehurst, who caught the fourth-quarter TD pass Saturday for No. 14 South Carolina that put his team up 45-7. Whitehurst, a redshirt freshman at the time, was kicked off the team at Arkansas after being arrested for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. He was arrested the same day as former coach Bobby Petrino’s infamous motorcycle accident that led to his dismissal in 2012. Then-coach John L. Smith dismissed Whitehurst, who transferred to South Carolina. Whitehurst, now a sophomore back-up at wide receiver, has two receptions this season, both for touchdowns. The other one was against North Carolina.
CONNOR SHAW: The senior quarterback, who spent his first couple of years at South Carolina in and out of coach Steve Spurrier’s doghouse, was a difference-maker Saturday against Arkansas, passing for 219 yards, rushing for 37 more and leading the powerful South Carolina offense in a 52-7 rout of the Razorbacks. Shaw threw 28 times, completing 19 with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Shaw was one of three quarterbacks who played for the Gamecocks.
MIKE DAVIS: The South Carolina running back led all rushers with 128 yards and a touchdown. At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Davis punished would-be tacklers most of the day, averaged 6.7 yards per carry. His longest trip was a 19-yard gain. Davis and back-up Shon Carson shared the load for the Gamecocks; Carson carried 15 times for 56 yards.
95 — Arkansas’ total offense in the first half.
69 — Yards gained by Arkansas wide receiver Keon Hatcher, tying the rushing yardage by running back Alex Collins.
KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME
1. Win Turnover Battle
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. didn’t realize he would have a role in the end of an era today.
It’s an understandable oversight. The final leg of the annual cross-division battle between Arkansas and South Carolina hasn’t garnered national news. There won’t be any ceremonies or celebrations to mark the occasion this afternoon, either.
1. Dual-Threat Shaw
South Carolina’s Connor Shaw hasn’t received the same type of attention as other Southeastern Conference star quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray or AJ McCarron. But Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash said it doesn’t take star power for the Razorbacks to realize the quarterback will be challenging Saturday.
FAYETTEVILLE — The losses don’t sit well with Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.
They don’t feel good to his coaches and players, either.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas offensive tackle David Hurd knew his exact mistake as soon as the play ended last Saturday.
The senior said the Florida linebacker was his responsibility. But he didn’t get it done. So quarterback Brandon Allen hit the turf with a thud.
1. Starting Spot Open
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said the Razorbacks are going to miss sophomore Will Hines, who will be sidelined for the next several weeks after fracturing his right arm in the 30-10 loss at Florida last Saturday.
1. Turnover Trouble
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen has been responsible for four turnovers in the past two games (three interceptions, fumble). To make matters worse, two of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Texas A&M and Florida.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney doesn’t know if South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is playing Saturday.
That won’t stop Chaney and the Razorbacks from planning for him for obvious reasons. The 6-foot-6, 274-pound All-American entered the 2013 season regarded as the best defensive player in the country.