Fayetteville, AR: Arkansas proved to be just as physical as USC coach Shane Beamer thought they would be Saturday afternoon at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Hogs won the SEC opener for both teams 44-30 mashing the Gamecocks with their powerful offensive line which gave their strong running game plenty of room to operate.
The Razorbacks ran the football 65 times for 295 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rocket Sanders led the way with 156 yards and 2 scores. Quarterback KJ Jefferson added 67 yards on the ground and fought off USC tacklers several times. And he also completed 18-21 passes for 162 yards and a score.
The Razorbacks scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to open a 21-3 lead. The Gamecocks did close to within 21-16 and had possession of the football. But they punted and lost a fumble on their next two possessions and Arkansas converted both into touchdowns. The Gamecocks lost three turnovers on the day while Arkansas did not suffer a turnover.
The game plan for USC was to throw the football since Arkansas was missing their starting safeties, and quarterback Spencer Rattler responded with 371 yards completing 23 of 38 attempts with one touchdown and one interception. That’s the second highest passing total in a game for Rattler in his career. He passed for 387 yards at Oklahoma in 2020. Juice Wells was his favorite target with 8 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Running the football was not in the works for the Gamecocks Saturday. They managed just 40 rushing yards on 29 attempts or 1.4 yards per carry. After the game Beamer vowed to get the running game going.
USC was also hit hard by injuries. Mo Kaba and Jordan Strachan both went out and Beamer indicated their injuries could be serious, but he would know more later in the week. Nickel Cam Smith was also injured, an upper body issue according to Beamer, but he expects him to be fine. They also lost Alex Huntley for a time with a knee injury, but he returned. They played the game without safety RJ Roderick and nickel David Spaulding.