Rebels came into play with one of the most explosive units in the country. He had scored just 48 points for 647 yards against Alabama’s defense. Quarterback Matt Corral was completing 76.1 percent of the passes with only one interception.
In contrast, the Razorbacks showed significant improvement, but many were missing starts. When they hit the ground on Saturday, their lineup featured a pair of former two-star recruits at lineback, a two-star true freshman at one corner and a redshirt freshman walk-on at the other corner.
Several other former or current walk-ons and two-star recruits were also represented. Vegas set up over 77.5 points under overs, as it should have been a matchup nightmare against the likes of Elaiza Moore, Kenny Yeoba, Jonathan Mingo, Jerian Elia and Snoop Conner.
But it was not.
Not only did the defense hold its own against the dangerous Ole Miss offense, but it actually gave Arkansas a 33-21 victory over the Rebels at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Razorks came down with six interceptions, with two coming back for touchdowns. His total matched all of the previous season and marked only the second time in the past 50 years that Arkansas had several in a single game. (It was also six against Mississippi State in 2003.)
“I was planning on coming seven when the game started, but we’ll take six,” head coach Sam Pittman joked. “He is coaching, he is playing, he is in position, he is reading eyes. That kid had an interception going to the coral today (and), so we picked him six times, so he is coaching and is a player to learn and obviously capable of completing it too. ”
Hudson Clarke began his second career as a redshirt freshman walk-on, with things beginning when he came down with a pass to Moore – a whopping 78 attempts by Corral without an interception.
He told reporters that he read the scissor passage by the Ole Miss receivers and broke on the ball. It was a similar story with his second interception, as he looked out of the way and jumped in front of the pass.
This tied everyone back, with Clarke saying that coaching brought him all week from defensive coordinator Barry Odom and Cornerbacks coach Sam Carter.
“Game plan, they tried to keep it as simple as possible,” Clarke said. “We were in the zone most of the time, then we used to run a little blitz to put an extra man in the box. We just saw how fast they would move and how fast they set in. I realized that for us. It was easy to sit back in the field and read quarterback because we worked on it during practice. ”
Clarke finished the game with a triple interception. Which is made by a player in UA history for second place in a single game. The last player to do so was Michael Grant against ULM in 2006, and the last player to do so in a conference game was David Hogg in a 1970 Southwest Conference matchup with SMU.
For only the second time Clarke could ever remember that three interceptions in one game were in a new sport in high school.
It was an incredible performance by a player that most fans had probably never heard of before he replaced an injured Monterick Brown a few weeks ago against Mississippi State. Clarke admitted that he was buried in the camp well in the depth chart, but now, Pittman said that everyone “has heard of him now – at least three times.”
Former four-star recruits Katellan and Greg Brooks Jr. had an interception appy and were both clutch plays. Cattelan returned 35 yards to give Arkansas a 17–0 lead in the second quarter, while Brooks got into the red zone.
“Coach Carter had been telling us all week that we had the chance to be one of the best second to come through Arkansas,” Rosé said. He said, “We like it a lot in practice. I mean, it’s different on the field, but it was definitely a confidence boost. ”
The other pick-six was done by linebacker Grant Morgan, a former walk-on and two-star recruit who was essentially playing with one arm due to an elbow injury in the Mississippi State game.
The injury-defending device prevented him from making another two interceptions early in the game, but he eventually caught Arkansas with a 26-21 lead with three minutes remaining. They then made their way to the end zone from 23 yards.
Morgan – who said his hand would have to descend to come out of the game – with 19 tackles, three for a loss and a sack, and a pair of pass breakups.
“You would see him holding that elbow while playing late in the fourth quarter and it didn’t stop him from taking a pass and running back for a touchdown,” Pittman said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s Arkansas. That’s it.”
With an injury bumper pool, Morgan was joined at linebacker by fellow former two-star recruit Hayden Henry. He finished with eight tackles – two lost and a pass breakup. His backups were former two-star recruit Andrew Parker and walk-on Jackson Woodard, who worked jointly for three tackles.
Pittman said he kicked Woodard out of the Little Rock Christian – dropped out of the practice squad this week, as backup linebacks Deion Edwards and Levi Draper were also out with injuries.
“We were a bit thin at lineback, but they all came to play,” Pittman said. “The team believes in each other. This is the key. They believe in each other and they try to improve each other and make each other accountable. It is a great thing. ”
It was unlikely that the Razorbacks were needed simply because they struggled several times to finish the drive against the Ole Miss defense, which came into the game nationally in most categories.
“Ole Miss has a great offense, fast pace and everything, and I was really impressed so fast that we lined up with them,” wide receiver Trellin Berks said. “What ended our plays, Hudson Clarke had a heck of a game, Jake Catelyn, who is actually the entire defense.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been as surprising to see from Odom’s unit, though.
Earlier this month, he shut down the state of Mississippi and revealed a blue print to slow down airstrikes, setting LSU on fire a week earlier. Morgan said it is expected that the ground work will continue for the rest of the SEC.
“We talked about it all week, we wanted to be able to set the standard on what other teams did against these offenses, (this) we played them so well that they were able to say, ‘OK We want Arkansas to do against these teams, “Morgan said.” It’s become an offensive-minded league. They want to score sixty-something points a game, but we say that with that.