RazOrbaX Report: Breaking down win over A&M, look ahead to Auburn
UA COACH BOBBY PETRINO
If you are of a certain age, you remember when playing on ABC was a big thing. There were no regional networks or ESPN showing games. CBS was the home of the NFL. If your team played on ABC, it was a special Saturday and probably the game of the week. How time flies and how things change. Saturday at Arlington, Arkansas and Texas A&M played the second of the scheduled 10 games in the Southwest Classic, and both teams will look back at all of the what-ifs. A&M will pat itself on the back for holding the high-powered Arkansas attack to just three points in the second half. The problem for the Aggies was that the Razorback defense also gave up three points in the second half.
Would've, could've, should've. Last year after getting into a 10-0 hole, the Arkansas offense exploded for 30 straight points. This year it should have been 21-0 in the first quarter, but it did not turn out that way. Texas A&M was the third straight team to run a 3-4 defense and brought more complicated blitzes than Alabama did. It made for a feast or famine kind of offensive game for the Razorbacks.
Sophomore running back Knile Davis' 45-yard run highlighted a nice, nine-play drive covering 80 yards to open the game. It was an outside zone play, and Arkansas did a great job of getting the linebacker and the corner blocked, something that the HOGS have been missing here and there to keep from getting this kind of run. In the fourth quarter, the Razorbacks lined up in a straight I formation and ran a blast play off right tackle for a big first down. Van Stumon led the way from his fullback position and made the big block on the linebacker.
MALLETT NOT PERFECT, BUT ...
HOG QB RYAN MALLETT
Arkansas fans expect a lot of Ryan Mallett. I read many negative comments as soon as the game ended about his play, but except for two passes, I thought Mallett played well. A&M mixed coverages well and brought many late blitzes by corners and safeties. Despite all of the movement and blitzes, Mallett completed 27 of 38 for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Can you really expect more than a 70 percent completion rate and 442 yards of total offense? Despite the good game, Mallett will not be happy about two throws that would have been huge. The second time Arkansas gets the football, Mallett has Greg Childs wide on the left of the formation coming all the way across the field. With a little air under the pass, Arkansas goes up 14-0. Mallett puts the ball on the line and the cornerback undercuts the route and intercepts the ball. A&M only has 2 yards to go for the tying touchdown. The other play was in the third quarter. After the Aggies cut the lead to 21-17, Arkansas has first and 10 from its 19-yard line. Trips set to the left with Jarius Wright as the inside slot. Wright runs the inside hash from one side of the field to the other and is wide open. Mallett does not see him and overthrows Adams running the corner post. Those are misses Mallett cannot have this week at Auburn.
DEFENSE PLAYED WELL
Defensively the Razorbacks played one of their better games of the Willy Robinson era at Arkansas. The HOGS did not sack Jerrod Johnson as much as they wanted but kept extreme pressure on him all day. That accounted for the 36.5 percent completion rate and held the A&M offense to just 74 plays for the game. The only thing that was scary all day was 6-4 wide receiver Jeff Fuller running go routes against much shorter Arkansas defensive backs. Winston, Madison and Broadway either committed pass interference penalties or gave up a big reception. With the receivers Auburn and South Carolina has, the HOGS have to get safety help. Arkansas did a good job of rotating players as sophomore Terrell Williams, senior Ryan Powers, freshman Chris Smith, and sophomore Colton Miles-Nash all saw action at linebacker and defensive end. Despite the deep passes, the Arkansas secondary did a good job of coverage because A&M QB Johnson was sacked or ran after having plenty of time to find an open receiver.
UA COACH BOBBY PETRINO
UA PUNTER DYLAN BREEDING
Once again, Dylan Breeding was the man. He averaged 42.9 yards on eight punts and had four downed inside the 20. His hang time was great as A&M tried to return three of the kicks with a total of 1 yard on returns. The Arkansas punt team in total may have had its best total game in years. A&M 's punter kept the ball high and short to keep Joe Adams from getting anything going on punt returns. The Aggie kickoff man also put all of his kicks deep into the end zone three of his four kickoffs. Adams returned his one short kick just 15 yards. Alex Tejada did not get a touchback this week for the second consecutive game. He needs to find those extra 5-7 yards before the Auburn game. Zack Hocker missed his first kick of the year (49 yards) and then was part of a botched fake field goal. Some worried about messing up his stroke but he came back and boomed a 39-yarder to set the final margin.
Hot Point Check Up
Goal-SEVERLY PRESSURE JOHNSON
The Hogs only sacked Johnson two times but hurried him all day (see 15 completions out of 40 attempts).
Goal-PLAY HARD/STAY FRESH
Aggies' 74 plays were 16 plays below their average. Zero points for A&M in the fourth quarter. A&M was averaging 509 yards before the game and 472 after the HOGS only gave up 324 to the Aggies. Two pass interference penalties and one pass for 69 yards gave A&M its only drive for a TD and last shot into the end zone.
Goal-BETTER STARTING FIELD POSITION
You cannot attack 5-plus yards deep into the end zone. Very high somewhat short punts negated return opportunities and changing field position.
UA PUNTER DYLAN BREEDING
Goal-CONTINUE THE CONFIDENCE
Breeding and Hocker did!
Goal-FOUR QUARTERS OF OFFENSE
First quarter Good; Second quarter OK; third quarter barely; fourth quarter non-existent
Goal-NO DRIVE-KILLING PENALTIES
Too many flags! Two on the first drive: false start and a delay of game. Drive from the Arkansas 12 to the A&M 36 killed by false start. Next drive (missed 49-yard FG) false start on the first play from the Aggie 37. Next drive, third and 4 becomes third and 9 and a botched fake FG.
Goal-FIRE UP THE SOPHOMORES
Knile Davis had 82 yards on 10 carries with a long of 45. Wingo only ran the ball once but caught four passes for 56 yards.
UP NEXT: No. 7 AUBURN
Now, for the biggest game of the year. Cam Newton is the missing link in the (Auburn O-coordinator) Gus Malzahn offense that was missing on Gus' first two trips to Arkansas. Now, he gets the Razorbacks on his turf with a quarterback who fits his offense to a tee. The Razorback defense has had great success against the Malzahn offense, giving up only 20 and 23 points the past two years (vs. Tulsa and Auburn). Newton is the wild card that can change that. It will be a monumental task against the 10th-ranked team in total offense.
The numbers are interesting: Auburn 10th in total offense (483) an 18th in scoring (36) while the Razorbacks are 19th in total offense (462) and 50th in scoring (30). The Tiger defense is 40th in total defense (335) and 46th in scoring defense (21). Arkansas' defense is 19th in total defense (302) and 13th in scoring defense (15).
When you average the Tiger stats against the Razorback stats you get Arkansas 25 - Auburn 25 with the HOGS having 398 yards offense and the Tigers with 392 yards offense. Will the Razorbacks experience against three teams playing a 3-4-4 defense help the offense this week as they face the fourth? Will the success the Arkansas defense has had against the Malzahn offense come through one more time? This game can easily make up for letting Alabama off the hook. In the SEC, it does not get any bigger than a 2:30 p.m. game on CBS. Go, HOGS!