Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Arkansas
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The toughest part of what was a brutal schedule would appear to be behind Arkansas, which has managed to hang in there pretty well. The Hogs (3-3, 1-3) were a couple of missed field goals and a couple of brutal calls by officials away from knocking off No. 1 Florida last week in the Swamp. The game Arkansas would love to have back is that 52-41 loss to Georgia at home the third week of the season. But since that game, the Hogs’ defense has improved dramatically. They sacked Florida quarterback Tim Tebow six times last Saturday in their 23-20 loss to the Gators. Some injuries on offense have watered down their stable of playmakers, but they’re still third in the SEC in total offense and averaging 34.5 points per game.
Offensive MVP: QB Ryan Mallett. He’s been the top newcomer in the SEC and has taken Arkansas’ passing game to new heights. Mallett leads all SEC quarterbacks with 1,646 passing yards and 14 touchdowns and has only thrown three interceptions. He’s a great fit for Bobby Petrino’s system and should only get better the second half of the season.
Defensive MVP: DT Malcolm Sheppard. While he doesn’t have huge total tackle numbers, there’s no denying Sheppard’s presence in the middle of that Arkansas defense. He leads the SEC with eight tackles for loss and is one of those dominant interior defensive linemen that makes everybody else around him more effective.