It's been a busy weekend for J.R. and Henry, and they both apologize for running a little late. They were trying to decipher Ed Orgeron's post-game news conference after his Ole Miss Rebs were clubbed by Arkansas 38-3, and they've been trying to uncover just what that brown substance was on Kenny Rogers' pitching hand Sunday night. Here's Monday's column a day late, but in time for Game 3 of the World Series:
J.R. and Henry: Ready for prime time
After a 38-3 thumping of Ole Miss, Arkansas is looking every bit the part of a legitimate SEC title contender. Sure, Ole Miss isn’t exactly a monster, but it had been an improving team and had taken the once mighty Alabama Crimson Tide (meaning really good in the early '90s) to overtime in Tuscaloosa the week before. On Saturday, the Rebels were taken apart by a much better football team. A football team that is looking like one of the top 10 squads in the country.
No doubt there was a letdown in the second and third quarters that allowed Ole Miss to stick around. And the play-calling seems to be getting more and more conservative as the season drags on, rather than progressively opening up more as we were told to expect before the season started. Why does it seem that Arkansas only starts passing the ball downfield when they’re so far ahead that the second team is in the game? Sitting on leads won’t hurt you when you play teams with the quick-strike ability of a three-toed sloth like Ole Miss, but against teams with a legitimate offense (re: Tennessee, LSU and maybe South Carolina) it’s good to actually attempt to score points to build a lead rather than hope your defense can stop the others guys every time.
So while it would have been nice to see a little more of the passing game when the Hogs were up comfortably in the second and third quarters, Ole Miss never really threatened, and the game ended as well as anyone wearing red and white could have expected. And a 4-0 start in the SEC is better than anyone could have hoped for after the first four games of the year. Arkansas controls its own destiny in the SEC West, and while the Razorbacks aren’t getting much national publicity, they will have their chances to show they are ready for prime time in the weeks to come.
Specifically, in two weeks, Arkansas travels to South Carolina in what is the next biggest game of the season for the Razorbacks. That game has already been picked up by ESPN and will be the primetime game beginning at 6:45. With Louisiana-Monroe up next for the Hogs (also a nationally televised prime time tilt – ESPNU offers fine programming), Arkansas will be on the cusp of the Top 10 going into the game at Columbia.
And South Carolina has the disadvantage of having to play Tennessee this week, in a rivalry game for at least the coaches if not for the teams. Arkansas stands in the enviable position of either taking on a Gamecock team deflated coming off a loss, or in for a letdown coming off a win. No such worries for the Hogs with Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock.
So everyone have fun at the tailgate this week. Because next week it gets serious again.
On the World Series
It’s been a good sports month for us. The football Hogs continue to look the part of a title contender, the basketball Hogs are getting going with some new blood that should make for an exciting basketball season, and the St. Louis Cardinals have made an improbable run to the World Series. And, despite not being given much of a chance against the Tigers, the Cards found a way to come away with a win to split the first two games in Detroit.
With the Series returning to the new Busch Stadium tonight, and Chris Carpenter on the mound for the Cardinals, Game 3 seems within reach. And with suddenly un-hittable Jeff Suppan going in Game 4, a 3-1 Series edge is a real possibility with the two best Tiger pitchers out of the way.
There is no doubt that these Cardinals were not as good as the previous two years’ versions, but those teams flamed out in the playoffs and didn’t live up to expectations. Maybe this year is the Cardinals' year. For as good as Detroit looked in the Tigers’ first two series against the Yankees and the Athletics, it should be remembered that Detroit is still a wild-card team that faded down the stretch. We think this is the year for teams wearing red and white.
J.R. and Henry Prediction: Cardinals in 5.
J.R. and Henry blog their sports column on Little Rocking twice a week.