Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool and his Razorback teammates still have much to play for against Ole Miss
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas has lost its last two games, both at home, so one would think the Razorbacks would be reeling.
But they are not, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Razorbacks (5-5) have surrendered just one touchdown in the past six quarters. After Liberty took a 21-3 lead at halftime, Arkansas held the Flames scoreless in the second half. Last week, LSU could only muster 13 points in a three-point win over the Hogs.
Yes, even in a rough patch, the Arkansas defense has come to play lately.
“We got hit with some injuries early in the year and then we kind of changed some things up with how we run our defense,” senior linebacker and team captain Bumper Pool explained.
“Kind of getting our D-line to slant some more, but then we have some additions like Quincy (McAdoo) coming in adding some help at corner position. Moving (Hudson Clark) to middle safety. I think everyone just found their groove. I think when you have corners that can really lock down and help you a little bit, it helps you be more aggressive and whenever we can pressure the quarterback, I think it’s whenever we’re best. One touchdown in the past six quarters is something we’re proud of but we have a lot more to prove and I think we have two really good opponents left to prove it.”
Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool
To prove its worth, Arkansas will have to go against the potent Ole Miss offense. The Rebels (8-2, 4-2 SEC), are coming off a hard-fought loss to Alabama last week, while the Razorback defense was shutting down an LSU offense that scored 45 against the Rebels earlier this season.
Pool is one player for the Hogs who has already proven his worth. He is Arkansas’ all-time leading tackler with 439 going into today’s game.
SACK! What a play from Bumper Pool! pic.twitter.com/saiQls2atj
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 10, 2022
The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Pool notched ten tackles last week — his 21st game of his career with 10+ tackles — and fellow linebacker Drew Sanders had a dozen. Arkansas held the Tigers to just 284 total yards. In addition, LSU’s dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels was sacked seven times.
Arkansas has a lot of motivation heading into Saturday night’s game including looking to avenge last season’s 52-51 loss in Oxford.
More importantly to players like Pool, a preseason All-SEC honoree, who has been in Fayetteville for five years, it is Senior Night and his last opportunity to play in front of a home crowd at night.
A victory over the Rebels also makes Arkansas eligible to play in a bowl game.
“That’s our only goal is to win and to win on Senior Night to get bowl eligible, to play at night. Just winning under the lights versus an SEC team is a great time and hopefully we continue to have good practices and we go out there and leave everything we have because it is our last opportunity to play in the stadium.”
LB Bumper Pool
Arkansas is a different place since Pool first arrived on campus. The Razorbacks hired a new coach in Sam Pittman, the transfer portal opened up to change the roster, and the Hogs have been to three straight bowl games.
“We’ve changed a lot since I got here,” Pool said.
“We’ve changed for the better. It’s been an up-and-down rollercoaster, but the one goal that I had coming back was to continue to breed that culture that we set the past couple of seasons and, you know, whenever you have good seasons, the expectations are going to be higher.”
Pool’s expectation of another bowl bid begins this week against Ole Miss.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.