Keon Hatcher

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Arkansas going hog wild on Hokies in Belk Bowl with 24-0 halftime lead

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Few teams in college football have been quite as puzzling to figure out on a week-by-week basis as Arkansas. after one half in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, it appears the good Razorbacks have shown up against Virginia Tech. Arkansas leads the Hokies 24-0 at halftime of the Belk Bowl.

Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has thrown for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including one that was the result of an overturned call following an instant replay review in the second quarter to put the Hogs up 24-0 (Keon Hatcher caught the ball near the goal line and was credited with a score following a review).

Virginia Tech has been unable to get anything going on the ground against an Arkansas team that has struggled to stop the run all season long, and it was on the wrong foot right from the first snap of the game. Sam Rogers fumbled away the football to Arkansas on Virginia Tech’s first play of the game, setting the Razorbacks up at the Hokies’ 26-yard line. Arkansas was held to a field goal as the Virginia Tech defense came to the rescue. The Hokies turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when Jerod Evans was sacked by JaMichael Winston and Jeremiah Ledbetter. Evans was intercepted two possessions later, leading to an Arkansas touchdown town plays later.

There was a bit of an officiating meltdown toward the end of the first half on a muffed punt by Virginia Tech. Arkansas, despite never having control of the football during this sequence, was awarded the football following a penalty by Virginia Tech and multiple meetings between the Big 12 officiating crew and separate tongue-lashings by both head coaches Bret Bielema and Justin Fuente.

The Razorbacks are without tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Sprinkle was suspended after reportedly shoplifting from a Belk department store, despite the Belk Bowl giving players a Belk gift card to spend.

Alabama turns two Arkansas turnovers into 14 points for 34-10 halftime lead

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Turnovers have been the story of the first half as No. 1 Alabama holds the halftime edge on No. 16 Arkansas, 35-17. While Arkansas was unable to capitalize on an Alabama turnover early in the game, the Crimson Tide have turned two first-half turnovers into 14 points.

Arkansas was unable to take advantage of an early Alabama mistake. Joshua Jacobs lost a fumble at the goal line on the game’s opening possession, but Arkansas could only manage to reach the 23-yard line before having to punt the football back to the Crimson Tide. Alabama made sure not to make that mistake again with a short three-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. Jalen Hurts finished the drive with a five-yard run immediately after a 57-yard run by Damien Harris.

Arkansas fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, and Alabama took advantage of the Razorback turnover with a second Hurts touchdown run a few plays later. Arkansas answered with a touchdown drive of their own on the next possession, with Jeremy Sprinkle catching a 24-yard pass for a score from Austin Allen. Arkansas’ next offensive possession would also end with a touchdown, but this one was for Alabama instead. Tim Williams returned a Razorback fumble 23 yards for a score.

Alabama padded their lead with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to Harris, putting the Tide up 28-7. After Arkansas had a touchdown called off due to a penalty, the Razorbacks had to settle for a field goal, which was no good because Alabama came right back with another touchdown after Bret Bielema exploded on the sideline and drew an unsportsmanlike penalty to push a kickoff back 15 yards. Bo Scarbrough took off for a 21-yard score for the 35-10 lead.

Arkansas did manage to score one more touchdown before the end of the first half with Allen tossing to Keon Hatcher in the end zone.

Arkansas loses leading WR Keon Hatcher for at least six weeks

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As if losing at home to an unranked Toledo team without its best player was not bad enough for Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks, wide receiver Keon Hatcher suffered a foot injury that will keep him out of action for at least the next six weeks.

Bielema announced the injury update Monday, saying Hatcher went in for surgery in the afternoon and is expected to be out for a minimum of six weeks. If that is a best-case scenario, that would leave Arkansas without its top wide receiver for upcoming games against Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. That is a tough stretch to go without the top receiver on the field, especially after going down at home to Toledo. And that is just the best-case scenario. Ole Miss and LSU still linger toward the end of the season, as do Mississippi State and Missouri.

Hatcher leads the Razorbacks with 198 receiving yards and two touchdowns through two weeks. he also led the team with 558 receiving yards and six touchdown receptions last fall. His loss is, of course, significant.

Before the season started the Razorbacks also lost last season’s leading rusher, Jonathan Williams, for the entire season.

SEC release list of player attendees for Media Days

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Back in June, the SEC released the dates and times the 14 coaches will appear for the conference’s Media Days this month.  Five days ahead of the start of the SEC Media Days July 13, the league has released the list of players who will travel to Alabama with their respective head coaches.

As has been the standard for years, each of the 14 teams will send three players to represent the schools, for a total of 42.  Not surprisingly, given the lack of returning talent at the position, there will be just five quarterbacks in attendance: Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia , Kentucky and Mississippi State are sending all-senior contingents, while South Carolina will be represented by nothing but juniors.  38 of the 42 players are either juniors or seniors, the lone exceptions being sophomores Brandon Powell (Florida, wide receiver), Leonard Fournette (LSU, running back), Nigel Bowden (Vanderbilt, linebacker) and Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt, running back).

The Gamecocks are the only team to bring one of their kickers (placekicker Elliott Fry), while Texas A&M is bringing three linemen (two offensive, one defensive).  All three Razorback players come from the offensive side of the ball.

Below is the complete list of SEC player attendees:

Alabama
*Reggie Ragland, Sr., LB
Kenyan Drake, Sr., RB
Ryan Kelly, Sr., OL

Arkansas
*Jonathan Williams, Sr., RB
Brandon Allen, Sr., QB
Keon Hatcher, Sr., WR

Auburn
*Jeremy Johnson, Jr., QB
Jonathan Jones, Sr., DB
Kris Frost, Sr., LB

Florida
*Jonathan Bullard, Sr., DE
Brandon Powell, So., WR
Vernon Hargreaves III, Jr., DB

Georgia
*Malcolm Mitchell, Sr., WR
John Theus, Sr., OT
Jordan Jenkins, Sr., OLB

Kentucky
*Melvin Lewis, Sr., NG
Jordan Swindle, Sr., OT
A.J. Stamps, Sr., S

LSU
*Leonard Fournette, So., RB
Vadal Alexander, Sr., OT
Kendell Beckwith, Jr., LB

Ole Miss
*Evan Engram, Jr., TE
Mike Hilton, Sr., DB
C.J. Johnson, Sr., LB

Mississippi State
*Dak Prescott, Sr., QB
Taveze Calhoun, Sr., DB
Ryan Brown, Sr., DE

Missouri
*Kenya Dennis, Sr., DB
Maty Mauk, Jr., QB
Evan Boehm, Sr., C

South Carolina
*Elliott Fry, Jr., PK
Pharoh Cooper, Jr., WR
Skai Moore, Jr., LB

Tennessee
*Joshua Dobbs, Jr., QB
Curt Maggitt, Sr., LB/DL
Cameron Sutton, Jr., DB

Texas A&M
*Mike Matthews, Sr., C
Germain Ifedi, Jr., OT
Julien Obioha, Sr., DL

Vanderbilt
*Ralph Webb, So., RB
Nigel Bowden, So., LB
Spencer Pulley, Sr., C

* ‘Beyond The Field: Stories of the SEC’ Representative

Arkansas manhandling Texas halfway through the Texas Bowl

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Arkansas is making itself at home in the Texas Bowl against Texas, leading the Longhorns 24-7 at the midpoint.

The key sequence came midway through the second quarter as Jaxon Shipley declined to catch a punt at his own 10 yard-line, and instead watched the Hogs down the ball at the 3. Disaster struck on the next snap as Tyrone Swoopes and Johnathan Gray, standing just in front of the Arkansas end of NRG Stadium, botched an exchange inside their own end zone, and Taiwan Johnson hopped on the loose ball for a touchdown to give Arkansas a 17-0 lead.

Texas responded with a sharp drive as Swoopes completed all four of his passes for 31 yards and rushed in from nine yards out to give the ‘Horns some apparent momentum heading into the half, but Arkansas immediately responded with a nine-play, 61-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Keon Hatcher with 25 seconds to go before the break.

Allen has completed 8-of-16 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and Arkansas has totaled 100 yards on 21 carries.

Swoopes hit 6-of-10 throws for 30 yards (for those of you paying attention, this means he had minus-1 passing yard until Texas’ scoring drive), while three Longhorns rushers have combined for 16 yards on 14 carries.

Arkansas has a 217-46 yardage advantage and scored on all but two possessions in the first half.

Texas will receive the ball to open the second half.