By Drake Priddy
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas falls to Mississippi State in another close game adding an additional loss to their six-game skid. It was another week of an abysmal offensive outing and a defense that continues to make up for it.
The Arkansas defense set the tone of the game early with an interception by senior safety Alfahiym Walcott on Mississippi State’s second play of their first possession. In the post-game conference, Walcott describes his reads and what he saw on his interception play.
“Really that play I’m supposed to be reading a one to two,” said Walcott. “Rail one, push and overt. I look back to peek at the quarterback, ball was out. My play.”
Walcott’s Interception spotted the Arkansas offense on the Mississippi State 35- yard line but stopped short on the State six-yard line. The stalling offense led to a Cam Little 24-yard field goal. Little’s field goal would be the only points scored by Arkansas in the 7-3 loss.
The lack of scoring was not because of a lack of opportunities created by the defense. The Razorback defense gave up one Bulldog score but forced Mississippi St. to punt on eight of their eleven drives, four of which being three and outs.
Arkansas redshirt sophomore linebacker, Christopher “Pooh” Paul, credits
Mississippi State quarterback Mike Wright, who started for an injured Will Rogers,for his play making ability on the State’s lone score.
“They just made a great play call,” said Paul. “Like I said, Mike Wright is a great quarterback and he has the vision of a quarterback so he rolled out, made a great play, he saw the open receiver and he got it into the endzone.”
At one point, the Razorback defense had the Bulldogs backed up to their own three-yard with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. With the Bulldogs in a vulnerable position, the roars of the crowd almost got the best of the Mississipp State offense.
Backed up in their own territory, Mississippi State had three penalties back-to-back creating a third-and-11 situation from their now two-yard line. Wright would then connect with wide receiver Justin Robertson for a 30-yard reception leading to a Bulldog first down.
The Arkansas defense had the Bulldogs right where they wanted them, but ultimately gave up the big play to keep the Mississippi State drive alive. Both Paul and Walcott give credit to the State offense for the big throw and catch but were able to keep their composure through adversity.
“We wanted to stop them right there, but you know, it was just a little bit of adversity right after that play,” said Walcott. “We were fine after that. “Really, like Al said, we don’t bend,” said Paul. “We went out there and we bowed our necks after that play. That was a great catch by the receiver. All props go to him. Great ball by Mike Wright. But like I said, we bowed our necks and played Arkansas defense.”
Wright would then go on a 63-yard scamper that resulted in a touchdown that would be called back for a personal foul. Luck was on the Arkansas defense side on that play, they went on to force a State punt, and set up another Arkansas scoring opportunity. Unfortunately, the offense would not make much of their opportunity. Notably, the Arkansas offense would be in Mississippi territory for the first time since their first drive of the game that started with Walcott’s interception.
Arkansas will fortunately be heading into a bye week next Saturday and it is a much-needed rest and regroup period. This is perfect timing for the Hogs who have four games remaining on their schedule. If Arkansas wants to make a bowl game, then they must win out the rest of the season.
Both Paul and Walcott share their feelings about dropping six straight games and having an upcoming open date.
“I mean that feels, it feels kind of terrible,” said Paul. “Kind of like Al said, we’re all
competitors, so we don’t really like to lose, but the thing about it is we stay
together. We come together as a brotherhood and we keep playing Arkansas
“We can’t fold. I mean, that’s just not in us,” said Walcott. “We’re not going to fold. We’re not going to bow down to nobody. We’ve just got to finish. That’s exactly what we’re going to do each and every day.”
Arkansas has their bye week this week but will travel to Gainesville, Florida the following week to take on the Florida Gators. Game time to be determined.