Arkansas had not tasted victory in a month coming into their Saturday clash with non-conference New Mexico State. With Florida A&M their only win, and an unexpected loss to TCU and last weeks heartbreaker loss in overtime to Texas A&M, Razorback fans were searching for answers amid their frustration. Most did not realize the caliber of team Arkansas would face, with New Mexico State bolstering two wins on rivalry games against New Mexico and UTEP, who they trounced 41-14 a week earlier, and narrowly dropping their opener to Arizona State and a 3 point loss at Troy, who just beat LSU. The short story, New Mexico State has a lot of talent on offense and can decimate opponents with their passing attack. Could an Arkansas team that surrendered over 500 yards of offense slow down a team or just hope to outscore them?
Early on, the Razorbacks brought pressure on the defense with success. They kept the Aggies off balance for some time, leaving them with negative rushing yards for most of the r=first half. Arkansas kept its offensive rhythm from their game in Arlington and used a balanced attack and multiple backs to impose their will early. Deon Steward hauled in an Austin Allen pass from 38 yards out to open the scoring. On their second offensive possession, Austin Allen stared down a receiver and gave up an interception deep in Aggie territory. Still, they would hold and score on their next possession, going up 14-0 on a Devwah Whaley 3 yard scamper set up by another long pass play, this time to Jordan Jones.
Arkansas would lead 21-0 after a 31-yard pass to Nance seemed to have the Aggies teetering on the edge of collapse. They would respond and get their passing game going, scoring in the second quarter, before Arkansas answered again, this time with Chase Hayden carrying the ball in. With time short, the Aggies drove to within field goal range and converted, leaving the Hogs with a 28-10 halftime lead. Defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes was visibly upset with the play of the defense in the second quarter, and the lax coverage lasted into the third, as the Aggies scored on their opening possession. Arkansas answered with a nine-minute drive of their own, never letting the game get close. The Aggies would add another score, but Arkansas had the ball deep in New Mexico State territory as time expired, clinching the 42-24 win.
Look for Arkansas to continue the creative offensive schemes this week while bringing pressure on a Gamecocks team that allowed Texas A&M to put their quarterback on the ground often. Game time is set for 3 PM Saturday in Columbia.
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