FAYETTEVILLE — Junior linebacker Bumper Pool led an Arkansas defense that held Mississippi State to 400 yards of total offense and 14 points.
That was the same offense that lit up defending national champion LSU for 44 points and 632 yards of total offense. K.J. Costello passed for 623 yards against LSU, but Hogs limited him to 313 yards and picked him off three times. Arkansas took a 21-14 victory.
Pool finished the game with 20 tackles, including seven solo, and broke up two passes. He said the team was happy to get the win, but there would be no Club Dub like after the win over Colorado State last fall just before the team lost its next nine games.
“Club Dub celebration is never acceptable,” Pool said. “The work that we put in, this win is a lot different. It’s not a surprise. We beat a SEC school and we feel like we earned it because of the work we put in. We’re not going out there and winning this game just because it happened. We’re four days a week, grinding it out, and I think we’re going to keep the mentality of Pittman. He’ll never let us get too high. He’ll crack you down quick. His leadership style, I think that’s why everyone was like ‘we’ve got 12 more hours, then it’s time to go back to work.’ That’s who we are. And without that mentality, you’re not going to win many games in the SEC.”
Pool felt one reason the Hogs were so successful against Mississippi State is how Barry Odom had the team prepared to play.
“This was the most prepared game I’ve ever played in,” Pool said. “And when you have guys get hurt, but our team, we’ve gone through so much. We have a gritty football team. We’ve gone through so much COVID and all that there’s nothing that we can’t get past. We just have to keep working.”
Pool feels the win over Mississippi State can do so much mentally for the team as well.
“It’s huge,” Pool said. “I mean, we have talent. But when you’re confident, you can play faster. You’re getting to the ball faster and making more plays. That kind of confidence. We all feel now like we’re a dang good defense, and whenever you start building confidence on defense, it’s huge for your team. It kills momentum for the other team and your offense can rally off of it.”
Mississippi State went for it on fourth down six times making four of them. But no stop in the game was bigger than Jonathan Marshall stuffing running back Ja’quavious Marks on a fourth-and-two at the Arkansas 7. Marshall threw Marks for a two-yard loss giving the Hogs the ball 4:39 remaining in the game.
“I think the first time they wanted to throw the ball the whole time, and the first time they threw the ball and didn’t get it,” Pool said. “I think that was a huge momentum boost for our team. Then the second time, I had a feeling it was going to be a run, just because whenever you have a fourth down the first time and throw the ball and don’t get it, you probably question it. Then Jonathan Marshall is just being a man out there making a play.”
The Razorbacks never trailed in the game. Greg Brooks Jr. intercepted a Costello pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown with 11:44 remaining in the opening quarter. Pool felt that set the tone for the entire game.
“It was a ton,” Pool said. “It’s funny, because you can even ask Greg, no one was surprised when we did it. Because we knew if we played in our zone, he was going to force balls. That just jump-started the whole defense. If we had a fast start, we knew we could stay with what we had. I think it worked out pretty well. It was awesome.”
Safety Joe Foucha picked off the other two interceptions for the Hogs.
“He’s a ballhawk,”Pool said. “Our DB’s our so good, they’re so prepared, that they can rotate any guy in there. Joe’s one of those guys where he can make plays and I’m really proud of him.”
Pool’s running mate at linebacker is senior Grant Morgan. He finished with 15 tackles, four solo, 0.5 tackle for loss and one pass breakup despite missing some of the action due to an injury.
“Grant’s a warrior, he’s very tough,” Pool said. “Today he showed it. He had a tough little injury, but he said ‘Screw it, I’m going to get tougher, I’m going to go out there and make plays.’ Playing with Grant, it’s just so great. We can feed off of each other and we can talk without having to say words. We fly around, find the ball and know where each other’s going to be, so it really is great playing with him. Very tough, played phenomenal.”
The Hogs will be at Auburn on Saturday for a 3 p.m. kickoff on the SEC Network. Both teams are 1-1 with each losing to Georgia. Arkansas lost to the Bulldogs 37-10 while Auburn fell to them 27-6 on Saturday. The biggest differences are the Razorbacks led them7-5 at halftime. Georgia led Auburn 24-3 at halftime on Saturday.