What wound up being the impetus for a late first-half scoring drive by Florida occurred after what Arkansas fans considered a controversial call. It started with a 35-yard punt by Sam Irwin-Hill that Florida’s Louchiez Purifoy attempted to fair catch at his 10. He bobbled it and an Arkansas player — listed as Austin Jones in Florida’s official statistics — tried to retrieve it.
Arkansas ended up with the ball in a scrum, but a flag for interference with a fair catch gave Florida the ball at the 25 with 1:42 to play. Six plays later, Solomon Patton burned cornerback Tevin Mitchel for a 51-yard touchdown catch and run to put the Gators up 17-7. The rule is that a player must be given an opportunity to finish the catch, so the call was correct to the chagrin of Razorbacks fans.
Skipper Gets Two
At 6-10, Dan Skipper has become a force on opponents’ field goal attempts. The freshman, who starts at offensive guard, also is on special team defense for field goals and extra points. In the first quarter at Florida, Skipper got a hand up and stuffed a 48-yard field goal attempt by Austin Hardin. Skipper also blocked a field goal attempt at Rutgers. Skipper is the first Razorback to block multiple field goals in a season since Seth Armburst blocked two in 2009. Hardin was replaced by Brad Phillips in the second quarter and kicked a 27-yarder.
Quarterback Brandon Allen was injured on a roughing-the-passer penalty to begin the fourth quarter. It appeared to be a finger or part of his throwing hand. He was replaced by AJ Derby, who replaced Allen when he injured a shoulder against Southern Miss and missed the Rutgers game. Allen returned on the next possession for Arkansas.
Mitchel left the Texas A&M game in the second half with a head injury, but was back in the starting lineup against Florida on Saturday. He made his presence known early with a tackle for no gain on a screen pass on Florida’s first play. Mitchel had five tackles for the game, but missed coverage on a Florida touchdown pass late in the half and was out of position on another TD pass on Florida’s first drive of the second half.
Another New Line
Skipper and fellow freshman Denver Kirkland were in the starting lineup at offensive guards for the second straight week, but so was Brey Cook, who was displaced a week earlier at one of the guard spots. Cook started Saturday ahead of Grady Ollison at tackle. Kirkland, Skipper and Cook were joined by David Hurd at the other tackle and senior Travis Swanson at center, a Rimington Award candidate. Swanson has started all 44 games of his career at Arkansas. Going into the Florida game, his streak of 43 was tied for second in the country for consecutive active starts.
Florida center Jonothan Harrison was ejected from the game in the third quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was the first ejection of a player in an Arkansas game this season. In the next Arkansas series, Swanson was injured and left the game, which left both teams with backup centers. Swanson was working out on the sideline before the end of the quarter, but did not return on Arkansas’ next possession. Luke Charpentier replaced Swanson.
Starting cornerback Will Hines was injured and taken from the field on a cart with just over a minute to play in the fourth quarter. Hines, a sophomore from Waco, Texas, broke up a second-down pass and make a third-down tackle, stopping Florida well short of a first down before he injured an ankle or leg. He stood and was lifted onto the cart, sitting up as he left the field.
Zach Hocker, the all-time leading scorer for Arkansas, was 1-for-1 on field goals Saturday night at Florida and was true on his only PAT. His field goal streak this season is eight and he is perfect on 17 extra points. The Russellville senior has scored 328 points as a Razorback.
Alex Collins remains one game behind Darren McFadden on the Arkansas career list of freshmen with 100-yard rushing games in a season. McFadden recorded five in 2005. Collins rushed for 131 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette; 172 vs. Samford; 115 vs. Southern Miss and 116 against Texas A&M. He had 54 yards rushing on 11 carries against Florida.
Bielema In Florida
Coach Bret Bielema’s record fell to 2-3 in games played in Florida with the loss to Florida on Saturday. It marked the first time Bielema had coached a regular-season game in the state. Going into the game, he was 2-2 in Florida bowl appearances. His victories, both as Wisconsin’s head coach, were over Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One Bowl and over Miami of Florida in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl.
Not only did Arkansas have to visit The Swamp on Saturday, but still has road games at LSU and Alabama this season. It’s the third time since 1992 Arkansas has been on the road at all three schools in the same season. Arkansas is the only Southeastern Conference school in that time period that has drawn road games against all three in the same season more than once. Four schools have played at all three places in the same season once. Including Florida, Arkansas will play teams this year that have won the national championship the past seven seasons. Including the Alabama game in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 19, Arkansas will have played the defending national champion 13 times since 1993.