Serious trouble? Arkansas has to figure it out against Missouri State

·3 min read

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which things could have gone worse for Arkansas than they did in the first half against Missouri State.

The visiting Bears, an FCS team, owned every facet of the game through the first two quarters. Making matters worse, the Razorbacks, ranked No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll and No. 10 in the Associated Press Poll, were playing against former coach Bobby Petrino.

The game, which, on paper, should have been a rather easy Arkansas win, completely turned sideways. Missouri State took a 17-14 lead into the break.

Arkansas put together its first sustained drive after the Bears made it a 17-0 game midway through the second quarter. Rocket Sanders just off-tackle with 8:25 to give the Hogs a glimmer of hope.

Jadon Haselwood’s touchdown catch from KJ Jefferson the next drive provided even more.

Still, things are dicey inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at the break.

Time of Possession

Sep 7, 2019; Oxford, MS, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Nick Starkel (17) and Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg (51) reacts during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri State had the ball for 20:12 of the first half. We’re not writing Arkansas’ total because it’s so rough, but you can do the math. There are 30 minutes in a half.

Turnovers

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Raheim Sanders #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball in the first half of a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Hogs fumbled twice. Both led to Missouri State scores. One of the fumbles came on the goal line and resulted in a Bears recovery in the end zone for a touchback. They then marched 69 yards and collected a field goal.

Missed tackles

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Juju McDowell #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs the ball in the first half and is tackled by Drew Sanders #42 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Missouri State took a 17-0 lead when quarterback Jason Shelley scampered 24 yards to the outside, evading a tackle from an Arkansas linebacker en route.

Running game struggles

Arkansas running back Raheim Sanders (5) runs for a touchdown against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The Razorbacks entered as the No. 7 rushing attack in FBS. But until the game was 17-0, they’d run for just 21 yards. Arkansas’ offensive line was getting little push against a smaller Bears front, especially early. At the break, the Hogs had just 85 yards rushing.

Third Downs

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) scrambles out of the pocket against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

At one point, Arkansas was 0-3 on third down while Missouri State was 5 of 8. They ultimately went into the break 2-6 (Arkansas) and 6-11 (MSU).

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire