Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- It is homecoming week for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and a return to Fayetteville is welcome as the Hogs try to snap a three-game skid.
Last weekend the Razorbacks fell 30-10 in a game that was dominated defensively by the Gators. Arkansas was held to just 111 yards on the ground, and Brandon Allen was forced to throw 41 passes.
This imbalance led to the Gators getting to tee off in their rush and hit Allen seven times and sack him twice.
“In that Florida game I thought we put our guys in some situations that were very difficult to win from, but we put ourselves there when we got down by that last score,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said.
Things do not get easier this week with No. 14 South Carolina, and its star Jadaveon Clowney likely taking the field after missing last week’s game.
“This week going against Clowney, I don’t know how many guys can stand up and go one-on-one with him and expect to have success,” Bielema said. “He is a guy that is going to be premier in the NFL draft.”
Neutralizing Clowney and the South Carolina rush will start with the running game, which USC head coach Steve Spurrier will look to take away.
“They are one of the few two-back teams you are going to face right now that are going to come straight at you,” Spurrier said. “We have to be strong inside. Guys have to stay in their gaps and take on blocks, and then try to get them into passing situations and then stop the pass.”
Freshman running back Alex Collins still leads the SEC in total rushing yards at 651, while teammate Jonathan Williams sits at No. 5 with 503 yards.
Spurrier and the Gamecocks will look to ease the pressure on their defense with an offense led by quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Mike Davis.
“Our offense better play well (because) our defense is struggling a bit,” Spurrier said. “We need to stay on the field. We are not a quick score type team.”
Davis is third in the SEC in total yards with 614, while Shaw has been masterful, if underrated, in the way he has conducted the South Carolina offense to this point.
“He (Shaw) sure does get overlooked,” Spurrier said. “Most people are enamored with touchdown passes. We have been pretty good about running the ball in. We throw a lot to get down there, but we have been pretty good running it in.”
Davis has eight touchdowns on the season, while Shaw has thrown for just seven with no interceptions. Shaw is not a pure pocket-passer though, as he is fourth in the SEC among quarterbacks in total rushing yards with 282 and a touchdown.
“He (Shaw) is as good as anybody that we have seen to this point,” Bielema said. “One part that is probably deceiving is how well he runs the football and how well he throws the ball. The combination of that together presents a really unique challenge.”
As Bret Bielema searches for his first SEC win, the South Carolina Gamecocks offer an opponent the Hogs have traditionally owned at home.
Since 1993, the Razorbacks are 8-2 in games against South Carolina in the state of Arkansas.
Arkansas and South Carolina kick off at 11:21 a.m. on Saturday in Fayetteville.
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