Razorbacks defense has done its part in the past three weeks
LITTLE ROCK -- While a lackluster offense kept the Arkansas Razorbacks winless in October, the defense stepped up, holding Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning to his lowest yardage since his freshman year.
Auburn running back Carnell Williams ran for 150 yards on Arkansas to jump back into the Heisman Trophy race, but the Razorbacks held him to one touchdown. The next week, he scored six times against Mississippi State.
"That's the hardest thing," Arkansas linebacker Caleb Miller said. "It's hard to know how to feel when you know you do some good things out there and to know your team hasn't finished the way it should, that your team hasn't won. It's a real conflicting attitude within yourself, knowing if you had done a little better it might have been different.
"You question a lot of different things."
Meanwhile, the Razorbacks offense has managed just 17 points in the first three quarters against Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss. Only a 21-point fourth quarter rally against Florida kept the defense off the field.
"The last two weeks (the defense has) done a really good job," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "I've been real proud. They're playing hard and tackling well. Whenever you contain a guy like Eli Manning and keep him down the way we did, you can be real excited about that. We just have to help them with some points."
Arkansas' only lapse during the past three weeks was giving up big plays to Florida.
Ciatrick Fason had a 75-yard run to open the third quarter and break open the game, but it was a handful of long pass plays that piled up the yardage. Freshman quarterback Chris Leak had completions of 42, 33, 33, 29 and 21 yards against the Razorbacks.
Arkansas was hurt by big plays in losses last year, but it had found a way to overcome them this year. Alabama jumped out to a 21-point lead with 71- and 80-yard touchdown plays.
"We always play hard and that's what I like about our team," said Miller, who leads the team with 68 tackles, 10 for a loss. "That's probably the best thing that will keep you in a game. If you don't give up the big play, that's just easy points and confidence for the other team."
While the defense has done a good job of stopping its opposition, some extracurricular activities have played a part in the three-game losing streak.
Two roughing-the-passer penalties and a helmet-to-helmet hit by free safety Tony Bua kept the Florida offense on the field.
Against Ole Miss, the defense committed two pass interference penalties to keep the lone touchdown drive moving. A personal foul on third-and-13 kept a field goal drive going and the Rebels had two cracks at the kick when an illegal substitution flag wiped out a 27-yard miss.
"I don't really want to fault them for that; you can't," Miller said. "Those things never cost you the game regardless of what anyone says. It would have been a whole lot better if they hadn't happened, but there are other things we could have done to overcome things like that."
The Razorbacks face another tough passing game this week at Kentucky. Senior quarterback Jared Lorenzen has thrown for 1,403 yards with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound quarterback has thrown for 9,536 yards and 75 touchdowns at Kentucky.
Wildcats receiver and kick returner Derek Abney leads the SEC in all-purpose yards at 165.9 yards per game. At 29 points per game, Kentucky ranks fourth in the league.
This will be the third week in a row Arkansas has played one of the top four scoring teams in the SEC. Ole Miss still leads the league at 37 points an outing.
"They do a super job of scoring points quickly," Nutt said. "That's what's scary. There's never enough points against Kentucky."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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