The instant reaction, thoughts, and and what matters after the Arkansas 21-14 shocker over Mississippi State.
Oh, Mike Leach, NOOOOOOOOOO
A two game sample size is hardly enough to take anything away from a coaching era, but Mississippi State fans have now seen what this is.
Leach’s team will be good enough to beat just about anyone on the right day, and it’ll be just flaky enough to lose to anyone – because the system allows too many own goals – if it doesn’t work right.
Turn the ball over four times, and that’s it.
Mississippi State dominated the time of possession battle 36:20 to 23:40, outgained Arkansas 400 to 275, and lost.
When it works, it’s amazing. When it doesn’t, it’s that big budget superhero movie with a whole lot of pyrotechnics and no plot.
— Hunter Yurachek (@HunterYurachek) October 4, 2020
Really? Ranking Arkansas over LSU?
The polls are going to screw it up.
We all love the AP and Coaches polls, but they’re going to get it wrong – like not ranking Arkansas State over Oklahoma and Kansas State last week.
You’ve got to do it, though.
Arkansas lost to Georgia, who’ll be ranked in the top three. It’s one win this year came against Mississippi State.
Mississippi State beat LSU, whose one win is against winless Vanderbilt.
It’s sensibility-offending, and it’ll likely change next week, but it’s totally clean. You have to rank the Hogs ahead of the defending national champs.
If you're not a running team ...
Mike Leach teams throw the ball, which means Mississippi State throws the ball.
Leach gets production out of his running backs – when he gets them the ball – and he’s got a phenomenal back in Kylin Hill, but he went down in the first series.
Without Hill, the Bulldogs ran for just 87 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. There weren’t any gashing dashes, partly because this is a passing team.
KJ Costello threw the ball 59 times. He’s the guy. He’s the main man. He’s running the offense, and while he struggled with three picks, on 4th-and-1 down seven and inside the Arkansas 10, you put the game in his hands.
Handoff Jo’quavious Marks, stuffed, and after a muffed punt return to get the ball back, ball game.
Feleipe Franks has his day
You want a feel good story? Here you go.
Feleipe Franks suffered a bad leg injury that knocked him out early in the 2019 season at Florida, Kyle Trask stepped up, and that was it. Franks transferred to Arkansas to settle the starting job, and things didn’t start out so well.
He hit just 19-of-36 passes for 200 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the 37-10 loss to Georgia, with one being taken back for a score.
This week, it was supposed to be the KJ Costello show as the Mississippi State offense was coming off its amazing win over LSU. Franks couldn’t keep up the pace, right?
20-of-28, 212 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions. He didn’t make mistakes, Costello did.
Combine Florida’s 2018 13-7 win over Mississippi State, and Franks is 42-of-59 for 431 yards and two scores with an interception – and two wins.
Arkansas finally gets to have some fun
Arkansas had lost ten straight games before going to Mississippi State, and was 2-24 in its previous 26 games against FBS teams.
The last SEC win came over Ole Miss on October 28, 2017.
It’s been a painfully rough run for Arkansas football since things crashed and burned after the 2016 season, and now the team and its long-suffering fans finally got to enjoy a big moment.
Arkansas wasn’t supposed to win a game this year. Looking at the schedule, it wasn’t supposed to be less than a double-digit underdog.
Sam Pittman was the no-name new head coach while Ole Miss got Lane Kiffin, Missouri grabbed Eliah Drinkwitz from Appalachian State, and Mississippi State brought in Mike Leach and all he can do for a program.
No matter what else happens the rest of this year – and it’s going to be rocky – Arkansas can play. It’s going to be outmatched time and again, but win the mistake battle, take advantage of opportunities, and stay in it until late.
And have some fun along the way, especially after a win like this.
Photo Credit Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports