Scouting USC’s next opponent: Arkansas

nwhite@thestate.comNovember 5, 2012 

Tyler Wilson

AP FILE PHOTO

GAME: vs. Arkansas, noon Saturday

RECORD: 4-5

RANKING: Unranked

SERIES: Arkansas leads 13-7

LAST YEAR: Arkansas defeated South Carolina 44-28 for its third straight win in the series. The Razorbacks scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away, as they finished with 435 yards in total offense. Although USC defensive end Devin Taylor helped keep the game close with a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, the USC offense was unable to make much headway with just 207 total yards on the night.

COACH: John L. Smith. The interim head coach is just that. A former head coach at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville, Michigan State and Weber State, Smith left the job he had recently taken at Weber State to return to Arkansas, where he served as an assistant, following the Bobby Petrino scandal. But despite a 136-91 overall record, his short tenure leading the Razorbacks has been a struggle, especially in blowout losses to Alabama and Texas A&M and an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

QUICK TAKE: The Razorbacks, who have won three of their last four games, defeated Tulsa 19-15 in their homecoming game over the weekend. They rushed for more than 100 yards for the fifth straight game after finishing with 135 yards on the ground. The Arkansas defense held Tulsa to 3-for-15 (20 percent) on 3rd-down conversions, while the Razorback offense was 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) on 3rd-down conversions.

HOG HEAVEN: Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks in the NCAA Top 20 with an average of 305.4 passing yards per game. The Razorbacks also are the only SEC team and one of 16 in the NCAA to pass for 400 yards in multiple games this season. UA accounted for 419 yards through the air against Rutgers and 400 agaainst Jacksonville State. … The Razorbacks have not compiled a losing record since 2008, which was Petrino’s first season at the school. … Kicker Zach Hocker, who leads the team with 55 points, moved into fifth on UA’s all-time career field goals made list with 46 after making two against Tulsa. He also moved into first on UA’s all-time career PAT-attempted list with 141.

S.C. CONNECTIONS: There are no South Carolinians on the Arkansas roster.

RAZORBACKS TO WATCH

... QB TYLER WILSON: The 6-3, 220-pound senior, the All-SEC quarterback in the 2011 season, has completed 169-of-279 passes for 2,526 yards – the sixth-best single-season total in school history. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions on the season.

... RB DENNIS JOHNSON: The 5-9, 213-pound senior rushed 22 times for 109 yards against Tulsa for his second consecutive 100-yard game and also scored both touchdowns. He leads the ground game with 598 yards and eight touchdowns.

... WR COBI HAMILTON: The 6-3, 209-pound senior broke the school single-season receptions record in the win over Tulsa, surpassing Jarius Wright’s mark of 66 set last season. Hamilton ended the day with 11 catches for 177 yards, bringing his season total to 69 receptions and 1,077 yards with four touchdowns.

... S ROSS RASNER: The 6-0, 212-pound senior leads the team with 67 tackles – including 5.5 for loss – as well as three interceptions, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

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