No. 14 Arkansas adds run to pass game

Arkansas has always had Ryan Mallett and the Southeastern

Conference’s best passing attack. Now, the 14th-ranked Razorbacks

have rolled out an effective ground game, one that’s made their

offense even better.

Mallett had his seventh 300-yard passing game of the season and

Knile Davis ran for three touchdowns in Arkansas’ easy-looking,

41-20 defeat of South Carolina on Saturday night.

The Razorbacks (7-2, 4-2) have relied heavily on the 6-foot-6

Mallett, considered one of college football’s top passers and a

probable first-round NFL draft pick. Recently, they’ve seen Davis

produce in the backfield with eight touchdowns in the past three

games, all victories.

”We put it all together tonight and we have to keep doing

that,” Mallett said. ”If we were doing that all season then we

wouldn’t be in the position we’re in. But we’re progressing every

game still.”

Arkansas had perhaps its most complete performance of the season

at Williams-Brice Stadium, where the Gamecocks had been 5-0 with

wins over Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

The Razorbacks stung the Gamecocks with their worst home defeat

since a 37-14 loss by Alabama in coach Steve Spurrier’s debut

season of 2005.

Many in the chilly crowd of 75,136 weren’t around to see the

finish, leaving when Mallett ran in the final Razorbacks TD from a

yard out with 11 minutes left.

”That was huge to see people file out of the stadium,” tight

end D.J. Williams said.

It meant Arkansas has the offense to put opponents away.

Davis bettered his career high in yards gained four times this

season, the last with 176 yards in a 38-24 victory over Ole Miss

two weeks ago. He’s had eight touchdowns the last three games, all

Arkansas victories.

Against South Carolina, Davis broke off several sizeable runs,

including a 21-yard touchdown scamper as Arkansas moved ahead 24-7

in the opening half. ”I was able to walk on some of my runs,”

Davis said, crediting his offensive line.

The Razorbacks had tried several different runners this season

before Davis’ play the last month has given him the bulk of the

carries. Davis and the Razorbacks have seen things gelling the past

few weeks. ”When everything’s going like its supposed to, like at

practice, it’s fun,” Davis said. ”When we get that bounce, it’s

real fun.”

The Gamecocks, who fell four spots to No. 22, haven’t had a lot

of fun on offense since midway through its game at Kentucky on Oct.

16.

South Carolina led 28-10 at the half in that one, but eventually

fell 31-28. The team struggled the next two weeks in wins over

Vanderbilt and Tennessee and could not get much going at all

against Arkansas.

Still, the Gamecocks can win the SEC Eastern Division and reach

the league’s championship game for the first time by beating

Florida at The Swamp next Saturday.

”I don’t think anybody was looking ahead to the Florida game,

but I think that was on everybody’s mind.” South Carolina

quarterback Stephen Garcia said. ”We don’t need to make any

excuses. This was a bad game.”

Unless you had a Razorback on your shirt.

Just about everything went right for Arkansas in every phase of

the game. Mallett and Davis took care of the offense while the

defense held South Carolina star runner Marcus Lattimore to 30

yards and the Gamecocks to 105 yards rushing overall.

Even Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker chipped in with a 51-yard field

goal, the team’s longest since 1992.

”We were really focused,” Razorbacks left tackle DeMarcus Love

said. ”We knew we have to come and get this win in order to be in

the position we want to be in at the end of the season.”

And maybe get a jump start on next year. Arkansas coach Bobby

Petrino always finds a quarterback – Mallett, a junior, could jump

to the NFL after this year – and if Davis could keep progressing,

it might make the Razorbacks doubly tough to defeat.

”We’re real balanced,” Davis said. ”When we’re like that, I

don’t think nobody can stop us.”