FAYETTEVILLE — Junior cornerback Montaric Brown had three tackles, an interception and pass breakup in a 37-10 loss to Georgia on Saturday.
Now Brown and his teammates must go to Mississippi State and take on another group of Bulldogs. Mississippi State defeated LSU 44-34 passing for 623 yards in the process. Brown feels the Hogs can step up and meet that challenge in Davis Wade Stadium.
“Watching film on Mississippi State, they like to throw the ball,” Brown said. “You know Air Raid offense, you know. They take big shots down the field. They’ve got a good running back in Kylin Hill with speed. He got good speed and good vision. We plan on stopping the run and stopping the pass.”
That is a lofty goal for Brown and his teammates considering they gave up 387 yards of offense to Georgia including 366 through the air. But Arkansas will be getting some defensive backs returning who missed the season opener. Devon Bush and Jarques McClellion will return this week while Joe Foucha, who was limited against Georgia, should be ready for much more action.
“It feels great,” Brown said. “Those guys are going to provide depth and rotate with the corners and help us a lot in the Mississippi State game.”
Facing a team that will throw it 60 or more times Brown knows the depth in the secondary will be a key.
“Oh yeah,” Brown said. “Vertical routes are going to have guys tired. You’ve got to rotate. We’ve got depth, so we can rotate guys in. But yeah, that plays a big role in it.”
Quarterback K.J. Costello passed for the 623 yards and five touchdowns against the defending national champions. Brown talked about what he has seen from Costello.
“His tendencies, he likes to take shots,” Brown said. “I know I’ve got to watch more film on him. He likes to take the big plays. He doesn’t like nothing short. He likes to take big plays.”
Costello is far from a one-man show for the Bulldogs. Running back Kylin Hill rushed seven times for 34 yards and caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. What is the game plan for him?
“Stop the Air Raid, stop the pass,” Brown said. “Stop the run first and then stop the pass you know? They plan on throwing deep shots and just plan on stopping that.”
Brown and the Hogs have faced Hill in the past. In 2019, Hill rushed 21 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns against the Hogs. He did just have one reception for a yard in a 54-24 romp for the Bulldogs.
“This year I see him being more versatile,” Brown said. “Catching ball out of the backfield. Last year he didn’t do that. He ran the ball on us last year and he’s being more versatile this year and we got to stop that.”
Costello also has some nice targets in addition to Hill to toss it to. Osirus Mitchell had seven receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns against LSU. Brown knows the Bulldogs have some good receivers.
“You know, lanky,” Brown said. “Six-plus in height. Long guys, so they can go get the ball, and we plan on stopping it.”
Brown talked about what Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach likes to do with his receivers in the Air Raid.
“Yeah it’s a lot of crossing,” Brown said. “They try and get people out of their positions. You know running deep you know? Take big shots. I’ve got to watch more film on them, but take big shots I know.”
While the Bulldogs present several challenges, Brown indicated practice hasn’t been different this week.
“Not really,” Brown said. “We just focus on doing our jobs and knowing our assignments and knowing where we’re supposed to be man. It’s just another day. Like coach said we practice how we play so we just make sure we do our assignments and make sure we’re doing our assignments. Yeah that’s it.”
Brown showed good hands on the interception against Georgia. He said that is something the team practices regularly.
“We make sure during practice, we make sure we make those opportunities, make sure we catch the balls on those plays when the time comes,” Brown said. “We focus on catching the ball. We’re going to get some picks this weekend.”
Pro Football Focus gave Brown a good grade for his play against Georgia.
“I felt like I played good,” Brown said. “I got to continue to play good throughout the season to be consistent, but I think I played good.”
Brown was a four-star safety coming out of Ashdown High School in the Class of 2017.
Arkansas and Mississippi State will kickoff at 6:30 on Saturday night with the game televised on the SEC Network Alternate.