Arkansas fans may remember the name Kane Whitehurst, who caught the fourth-quarter TD pass Saturday for No. 14 South Carolina that put his team up 45-7. Whitehurst, a redshirt freshman at the time, was kicked off the team at Arkansas after being arrested for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. He was arrested the same day as former coach Bobby Petrino’s infamous motorcycle accident that led to his dismissal in 2012. Then-coach John L. Smith dismissed Whitehurst, who transferred to South Carolina. Whitehurst, now a sophomore back-up at wide receiver, has two receptions this season, both for touchdowns. The other one was against North Carolina.
The 52-7 thumping of Arkansas by South Carolina ranks as one of the worst drubbings the team has encountered at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Alabama loss a season ago was the worst — 52-0. The loss to the Gamecocks was No. 2. It was the third worst Southeastern Conference loss, including the Alabama loss last year and one by 49 to Florida in 1997. Tennessee won by 43 over Arkansas in 2000.
South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington will miss Arkansas not being on the Gamecocks’ schedule next season. The junior has scored touchdowns against the Razorbacks the last two seasons. As the point guard on South Carolina’s basketball team, he is averaging 12 points per game against the Razorbacks. Ellington was South Carolina’s leading receiver Saturday with six receptions for 96 yards, including a 53-yard catch in the first half to go along with TD passes of 9 yards early in the second quarter and 4 yards just before halftime.
Defensive tackle Robert Thomas suffered a broken bone in his leg in the third quarter against the Gamecocks and was helped off the field, likely ending the season and career for the senior and team captain from Muskogee, Okla. It was obvious he could put no weight on the left leg with his arms around two trainers and touching the ground with only his right foot. He was taken to the hospital after a trip to the X-ray room. Thomas had a career-high seven tackles against Rutgers and 3 1/2 tackles for loss against Samford.
Sam Irwin-Hill boomed a second-quarter punt 79 yards into the end zone and a block-in-the-back penalty set the Gamecocks up with a first down at their 10 with 6:07 left in the half. Hill’s first punt Saturday was only 34 yards, but he followed that with a 56-yarder, then the 79. The punt is tied for seventh on the Arkansas list for longest punts. It was the longest punt in the SEC this season. The ambidextrous kicker used his rightie against South Carolina, punting four times for an average of 53.5 yards.
The series of events following Arkansas’ fake punt late in the first half ended up spelling disaster for the Razorbacks. Irwin-Hill looked for a receiver as the rush started; he took a couple of steps forward and let it go before being hit. The incompletion set the Gamecocks up at the Arkansas 49 with 2:02 left in the half. It took 12 plays before Connor Shaw found Ellington uncovered in the end zone, putting the Gamecocks up 24-7. The Gamecocks got the ball to begin the second half and turned the opening drive into a touchdown on a 45-yard scoring pass from Shaw to Damiere Byrd.
50 And Fumble
Keon Hatcher gained 19 yards on an end-around in the Arkansas scoring drive to open the game, so it was no surprise that coaches went back to the play in the third quarter. It was the biggest rushing play for the Razorbacks in the game, but unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Hatcher fumbled after the 50-yard gain, handing the ball back to South Carolina.
In For Hines
Junior college transfer Carroll Washington got his first college start against South Carolina, replacing sophomore Will Hines, who suffered a broken arm against Florida and is out for at least a few weeks, if not the season. Hines, also a starter for much of his freshman year, won one of the cornerback spots during the spring and early fall, vying mostly with redshirt freshman Jared Collins. A concussion against Southern Miss sidelined Collins and Washington got additional playing time, leading to Saturday’s start. Washington had eight tackles against the Gamecocks, including one tackle for loss. Collins and freshman D.J. Dean also logged time in the South Carolina game.
Every PAT or field goal by senior Zach Hocker adds to his career scoring record at Arkansas. He added a point against the Gamecocks Saturday to give him 329. He remains perfect on the season with 18 PATs. That point put him into a tie for sixth on all time PATs made in the SEC with 161. He is tied with John Becksvoort (Tennessee, 1991-94). Hocker is the SEC’s active career leader in PATs made and PATs attempted (163). He also leads the league in field goals made, field goals made per game, field goals attempted, total points and points per game. Prior to Saturday, Hocker was tied for third among active NCAA players in field goals made, fourth in total points, tied for fourth in PATs made, tied for fourth in PATs attempted, fourth in field goals attempted, 11th in points per game and 14th in field goals made per game.
Spaight Out With Knee
Linebacker Martrell Spaight, the junior from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College, sprained a knee against Florida and was on the sideline against South Carolina. He was in uniform but had his knee wrapped. Austin Jones got the start in his place.
Arkansas’ sack count against South Carolina was three — one each by Darius Philon, Thomas and Deatrich Wise Jr. Going into Saturday’s game, the Razorbacks had three players ranked in the SEC’s top 10 for sacks. Chris Smith, who was tied for the conference lead with six, led the way, followed by Trey Flowers (four sacks for fourth place) and Thomas, whose 2 1/2 sacks came in at No. 10.
Center Travis Swanson, who stretched a knee ligament against Florida, started his 45th consecutive career game against South Carolina, keeping him in a tie for second among active NCAA players for straight starts. He was joined on the offensive line Saturday by tackles David Hurd, who has started every game at tackle this season; and Brey Cook, who earned his second straight start at tackle after four starts at guard to begin the season; and freshmen guards Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, starters since the Texas A&M game on Sept. 28.
South Carolina was the third straight preseason top-10 team Arkansas has faced and the fourth — Alabama — is scheduled in Tuscaloosa next week. No other team in the country had four straight preseason top-10 picks on its schedule this season. Arkansas lost to Texas A&M in Fayetteville on Sept. 28, was outmatched at The Swamp against Florida the following Saturday and was embarrassed by South Carolina. Based on games played and the remainder of the schedule, Arkansas’ scheduled is ranked the fifth toughest in the country.