RazOrbaX Hot Points Checkup post-Auburn with victory analysis
You have to love sellouts! It makes you be more patient (or crazy) in traffic. It makes you get to your tailgating spot as quickly as possible so you do not lose it! It lets you talk to a lot of fans about the game. And this was a big game for the Razorbacks. All of the fans I talked to wanted this game in the worse possible way. I think EVERYONE wanted this game. Because of the stats that A&M had put up last week there was a little anxiety in the hearts of the faithful.
TUSK off this week.
And Auburn has seemed to be the luckiest team in the land over the past year and a half. Breaks just seemed to go the Tigers way. Do not get me wrong: they had/have athletes and have good coaches. Sometimes that makes it seem like luck. However, most football watchers thought the Tigers would struggle this year without Cam Newton and Nick Fairly. Before the season, who would have thought that the Tigers would have to survive Utah State, edge Mississippi State and catch South Carolina in the fourth quarter to be 4-1 coming into this game?
Arkansas fans had questions about their team as well. Could the HOGS mount a running game? Would the defense get well enough to play just a little bit better? Can Tyler Wilson continue to take a pounding? All of the questions were answered. The Arkansas fans showed up in a big way and the WHOLE TEAM came to play.
It continually surprises me that teams stack the line of scrimmage against Arkansas to MAKE them pass. If you think your corners and safeties can cover man to man, then it must be OK. Auburn brought extra rushers most of the game. They also played a lot of the same defense that Alabama did, covering man to man with a safety free. Unlike Alabama, Auburn did not have the horses to keep up with the Arkansas receivers. And while Auburn brought extra rushers, Wilson did not get hit like he did against Alabama and A&M.
Arkansas played with a tight end more in this game than it had all season. Chris Gragg and Austin Tate caught five passes between them but the total was only 22 yards. With the departure of DJ Williams, the tight ends have disappeared. Could this be the beginning of their emergence? It just adds one more dimension for the defenses to worry about. Speaking of emerging, it was nice to see Greg Childs with four catches for 44 yards and looking a little more like his old self. While the fans did not like all of the running plays in the second half, especially since Arkansas was not gaining much (the coaches did not like that), the clock just ran and ran and ran. After Joe Adams simple pitch sweep gave the HOGS a two touchdown lead, the Lou Holtz adage about the second half kicked in: with the lead, no penalties, turnovers and blown assignments equal victory. It might not have been pretty, but a 24-point SEC win is nothing to sneeze about.
Defensively it was the Razorbacks' best three quarters of football this year. If Tyler Wilson is not sacked and fumbles, giving Auburn a short field, I am not sure that Auburn scores 14 points. Jake Bequette's return cannot be underestimated, but the take-charge player of the night was Jerry Franklin. At times this year, Franklin has seemed to disappear, but Saturday night the senior linebacker was large and in charge. On more than one occasion he was directing traffic, moving defensive linemen and realigning Highsmith and Nelson.
The biggest defensive stand of the game came on Auburn's first drive of the third quarter. Taking seven minutes and two seconds off of the clock, the Tigers drive to the Arkansas 40-yard line. On first down, Dyer was dropped for a 1-yard loss. Tre Mason then gained 14 on a sweep to the right but tight end Lutzenkirchen was called for holding, second and 20. Ontario McCalebb was dropped for a 7-yard loss, third and 27. Kiehl Frazier gets 2 and the Tigers punt on fourth and 25. A 13-play drive that ends up back on the Auburn side of the 50 and no points. On the very next Auburn drive, the Tigers hit a flea flicker pass for 44 yards, first down at the Arkansas 38. From there, Dyer for 1, second and 9. Frazier keeps on second down for 1, third and 8. Trotter throws incomplete. Auburn punts from the Arkansas 36!
Hot Point Check up
MAINTAIN THE LEVEL! Arkansas needs to maintain the level of execution that they showed last week. The better the execution, the bigger the score! Four three-and-outs in the second half and some missed opportunities will give the coaches an opportunity to work the offense hard during the off week.
PROTECT WILSON! Tyler was hit less in the second half and none in the fourth quarter against the Aggies. The less he gets hit the better off the HOGS are in this game and for the rest of the schedule. One sack and only three or four hits, and Wilson hits 18 in a row.
PROTECT THE FOOTBALL! Guess what HOG fans-Arkansas had no turnovers last Saturday. No interceptions and no lost fumbles. Two fumbles with only on lost and no interceptions.
FROM THE START! The defense MUST play the entire game the way they played the fourth quarter against A&M. Can one play change the season for a unit? What did that fourth and 2 stop mean for the attitude of the defense? Except for one play when they did not line up correctly, the Arkansas defense brought energy and great tackling for the whole game.
DO NOT GET FAKED OUT! The Arkansas corners and safeties must play their position and their responsibilities first and then the run second. It only happened once. Jerico Nelson let Auburn receiver Stallworth get by him as Auburn appeared to run a reverse. Nelson (at the Auburn 25) turned to run down Stallworth (at the Auburn 35) as the ball was pitched back to Trotter. Since Stallworth had to stop to catch the pass, Nelson runs him down. The defense recovered to stuff the next three plays.
BE BALL HAWKS. In every game this year Arkansas has had a chance to cover/intercept multiple balls but just has not come up with them. Three interceptions are a great way to start.
COVERAGE NOT THE KICKING III Auburn has several good return men (Tre Mason & Neiko Thorpe) and the Arkansas coverage teams better corral them or they will turn the field over. Mission accomplished!
UP NEXT: OFF WEEK
Time to take a break! The Razorbacks are 5-1 and ranked No. 10 in the AP poll. It is a perfect time to work on the small corrections that need to be made. It is a perfect time to get banged-up players well and to point this team toward the finish line. It is a good time to look at the teams ranked in front of the HOGS and what might lie ahead. Enjoy the week and make plans to travel to Oxford next week. It is only 212 miles from Little Rock to Oxford. Leave the Rock at 6 am and take the Coliseum Drive exit, park and walk to the Stadium in plenty of time for the 11:20 a.m. kickoff. Call the HOGS and enjoy the beginning of what should be a great second half of another great season.