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Luke weary of Whaley and Co

Running man: Devwah Whaley will be in attack mode (Photograph by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Matt Luke, the Mississippi Rebels interim head coach, is concerned about the threat posed by Devwah Whaley and the Arkansas Razorbacks’ ground game for this afternoon’s Southeastern Conference Western Division basement battle at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Bermudian Whaley’s Razorbacks are in need of a pick-me-up, as they stand bottom of the division with a 2-5 overall record, and 0-4 in the conference. Ole Miss are just one place above them in the standings at 1-3 in league play and 3-4 overall and have struggled against the run this season.

Conference opponents Alabama, Auburn and Louisiana State have all rushed for at least 326 yards against them this season, which will have Whaley and his fellow Razorback rushers optimistic — and Luke apprehensive.

“We’ve had our struggles in stopping the run, and that’s what they’re good at,” Luke told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “They’re going to get the run game going early and get big personnel in there.

“We’ve got to do a good job at loading the box and trying to get some stops on first and second down and try to force them into passing situations. And if we do, I think the advantage shifts back to us. We have some really good pass rushers.”

The Rebels are 126th out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivison schools by conceding 260.6 rushing yards per game, while the Razorbacks ran for 6.4 yards per carry in a 52-20 defeat by Auburn last week.

“We probably sat back on Sunday [and said] we probably should have run the ball a little more, especially in the first half,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. “At times we did very well with it.”

However, offensive line coach Kurt Anderson warned against complacency.

“Obviously we’d like to establish the run, but you know we’re not in a position as a 2-5 football team to be licking our chops about anybody,” Anderson said. “If you look at what we were able to do running the ball last week, we were effective running the ball. But we’ve got to put a complete game together.”

The game kicks-off at 1pm Bermuda time.