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Opponent Preview: Arkansas’ Defense

Mississippi State vs. Arkansas kicks off in three days!

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 16 Mississippi State football team plays host to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT inside Davis Wade Stadium.

This past week, Arkansas fell to No. 4 Georgia, 37-10, but the final score does not tell the full story.

The Razorback defense played relatively well, especially in the first half. The game might have been much closer had there not been three key turnovers, but we’ll talk about the Razorback offensive struggles in Thursday’s story.

Arkansas held Georgia to 387 yards of total offense despite the Bulldogs running 89 plays and having the ball for most of the game. The Razorbacks also held Georgia scoreless on its first eight drives — six punts, an interception and a turnover on downs. That interception was by redshirt junior cornerback Montaric Brown, who picked off Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis at the Arkansas 5-yard line. He finished with three solo tackles and the pick.

Mathis also fumbled in the game and was replaced by junior quarterback Stetson Bennett, who entered the game in the second quarter, and finished 20 of 29 passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

Overall, Georgia struggled to run the ball against the Arkansas defensive front, mustering together just 2.9 yards per rush.

Linebacker Grant Morgan, a fifth-year senior who made his first start, led the Razorbacks with 13 tackles. Redshirt freshman safety Jalen Catalon, who also made his first career start, had nine tackles and forced a fumble. Junior linebacker Bumper Pool also had a good showing in the game, finishing with 11 tackles and assisted on a sack. Sophomore defensive end Zach Williams had seven tackles and a sack for an eight-yard loss.

Talking about the Razorback defense, head coach Mike Leach said, “I thought they were a pretty tenacious group, they moved around well and they were aggressive.” He went on to say, “They flat out took a half away from Georgia. I thought that was quite impressive. I thought that they played really hard. They’ve got some speed out there. It’s worked in the past in this conference, so I think it’ll be a good challenge.”

Arkansas has veterans on defense that know what they’re doing, and they’ll put up a fight against Mississippi State, but the Razorbacks just don’t have the star defensive backs needed to slow down the high-scoring Air Raid offense that Leach has brought to Starkville.