RazOrbaX Report: Hootens.com coach Smithson breaks down Bama tape, looks ahead

RazOrbaX Report: Hootens.com coach Smithson breaks down Bama tape, looks ahead

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FAYETTEVILLE - Ugly. The weather was ugly, and the game was ugly. I have witnessed many ugly games in my lifetime as a Razorback fan: 1987 Miami 51-7, 1990 TCU 54-26, 2006 USC 50-14, 2008 Alabama 49-14 and now the 2012 Alabama game 52-0.

 

 Neither Brandon Allen nor
Brandon Mitchell attempted a
deep ball vs. No. 1 Alabama.
Nick Saban has taken a historic program to new heights, and it is the model of success. I respect Bama. I hate Bama. I root for Bama in the national championship game. I hope Arkansas is close to that one day.

I am not a fan of alternating quarterbacks. Any old Cowboy fans remember the year Tom Landry alternated Eddie LeBaron and Don Meredith in 1962? I would have been happier seeing either Brandon Allen run whatever plays were in the plan by series rather than by play. We did not see play progression out of the option look, which was a little successful. No play-action passes off of the option look and zero deep attempts were disappointing.

With Alabama leading 7-0, Arkansas made its best drive of the game. Brandon Mitchell caught a third down pass and broke a tackle to pick up a first down. Then, out of the Pistol set, he ran the option for 11 yards and a first down and got 15 more for the facemask penalty. On the biggest third down of the first quarter, Brandon Allen takes the shotgun snap and Chris Gragg finds the open spot in the Tide zone. Just a catch and it's first down at the 10, but Gragg has a chance to score. Unfortunately, Allen's pass sails wide of the senior tight end, and a golden opportunity to tie the game goes away.

Arkansas' defense got after it most of the day. The effort and intensity that has been lacking were there, especially early on. The HOGS tried to mix up coverages more than we have seen this year, but Arkansas does not have the linebacker play to help a beat-up secondary. The most telling stat of the day: the Razorback middle linebacker had zero solo tackles against a team the runs the ball between the tackles.

Austin Flynn and Colton-Nash got starts and played well for the Arkansas defense. The Razorbacks gave Alabama some looks early that gave the Tide some trouble: a five man front here and there and stand-up defensive ends. Ross Rasner played more of a linebacker roll in this game. Kealon Kellybrew almost intercepted McCarron's third down attempt when the defensive line forced the Bama QB to scramble. As the game wore on, all of the things that haunted the defense in the first two games of the year began to raise their ugly heads.

The "well, maybe" checkup!

No. 1 Win the matchups you can: One place the Razorbacks should be able to win is in the kicking game Statistically, Arkansas won the punting by 13 yards a punt. The snap over Breeding's head on his second attempt kills the turnover in field position gained by out punting the Tide. Hocker's miss was also a product of a high snap. On the return side, Dennis Johnson was desperately trying to make something happen, but the fumble was something Arkansas could not stand.

No. 2 Defense must control gaps on the line of scrimmage: At times, especially early on, it was good. As the game and the score mounted, it deteriorated and made it easier for Alabama.

No. 3 If you get to the QB, tackle the QB: Arkansas flushed McCarron a few times but never sacked him.

No. 4 Frank Broyles used to talk about his secondary players "searching" the receiver when the ball arrived. You have to be close to them to search them.

No. 5 Use "quick" passing game: Only saw a few quick passing attempts all day.

No. 6 Razorbacks must muster some kind of ground game: Davis ran hard and gained 73 yards but his fumbled pitch lost 14. And a -31 on a snap over the punters head makes the total look weak.

No. 7 Absolutely no turnovers: Total failure. You cannot give a team as good as Alabama any help.

UP NEXT: RUTGERS
None of the seven points were achieved last week. Rutgers has this game circled and will come with a vengeance at the Arkansas QBs. I did see some good things Saturday. There was an intensity and a since of urgency I have not seen all year. Arkansas must play every play with that same kind of effort against every team left on the schedule. The season is not a total loss, yet, but with the passing teams the HOGS still have to face, the secondary must get better or Arkansas will have to throw a lot of different looks at the opposing QB. And if the Hogs blitz, it must be disguised and they must get to the QB.

I told some media types after the ULM game outside War Memorial Stadium that Arkansas was a very fragile team. The Hogs showed some fight Saturday, but some of the same problems from the first two games linger. There are still nine games to play, and this team can still be remembered as a good Razorback football team. The Hogs need a kick in the rear, a pat on the back and the same fan support they had at the beginning of the Alabama game. Arkansas has some good players. They must execute better and they need a little luck. The next three games will tell the tale of the 2012 season.


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