RazOrbaX Report: Hootens.com coach Smithson breaks down Ole Miss tape, eyes Tulsa
War Memorial Stadium
The dreaded week off: Do you improve or digress? Do coaches and players get to watch too much film and reach overload? Over the past 10 years the Arkansas Razorbacks are 4-6 after a week off, but the more telling number is that the HOGS scored 279 points in those games while opponents scored 283 points. Arkansas' biggest wins were 44-15 over ULM in 2005 and 27-10 over Auburn in 2006. The other two victories were 24-17 over A&M in 2010 and 29-24 over Ole Miss in 2011. The Razorbacks lost games they should have won after an off week to Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Auburn. Add Ole Miss to that list now.
War Memorial Stadium
Finally! What a football weather we had in Little Rock. Clear skies and a breeze out of the north made it late October nippy for the first time in I cannot remember when! Most of the fans had guarded optimism about the HOGS. If the team that showed up for Auburn and Kentucky came to the Rock, it would be a big win in the quest for a bowl game. If the team that played ULM and Rutgers came to town, it would be hold-your-breath time. I for one felt like we had better players position by position but was concerned about Hugh Freeze. He has the Rebels playing hard, determined football. He knows he is outmanned but gets the absolute most out of what he has.
Arkansas opened the game with two scoring drives but instead of a 14-0 lead, it was only 10-0. The first play of the game was an indicator of the hit or miss type of day it would be, and as the game unfolded, was eerily similar to the ULM game. Tyler Wilson takes the shotgun snap and fakes a handoff and looks right for Cobi Hamilton. Hamilton makes a juggling catch with a defender all over him. The 27-yard gain puts the HOGS in Ole Miss territory. The only problem was that Chris Gragg was running uncovered down the middle of the field and Wilson did not see him. All day long Tyler seemed to be forcing the ball into coverage. The part of that that bothered me the most is that Arkansas would have two receivers in the same area, adding to the number of defenders in the area. Wilson was lucky to only have two interceptions. The first interception killed a scoring drive: Ole Miss picks it off at the 5 with the first-down play starting from the 39. At a minimum, Arkansas had a field goal attempt with the wind if it does not make another yard.
Dennis Johnson is having a great year and he showed fight and heart on his last carries in Little Rock. Now if everyone else showed that fight ... The Razorbacks show some two-back formations but not like they have the past two weeks. They did add an inside handoff to freshman Jonathan Williams and he averaged 5.6 yards on his five carries. Mostly, it was DJ on delays for 161 hard earned yards and a 6 yards a carry average. He has been the most consistent 'back all year he needs to get the carries.
The Arkansas defense played about as well as I could have imagined. They shut down the Ole Miss running game and did not give up the deep TD pass. And while Ole Miss was only seven for 15 on third downs, when they did make one it was a killer. Arkansas played two deep safeties most of the day, but Ole Miss countered by bringing in two 'backs and having both circle out of the backfield on critical downs putting them one on one with the Arkansas linebackers. The biggest of the day was the third-and-9 pass to Jeff Scott on the winning field goal drive. Scott was on QB Bo Wallace's left in the shotgun formation. The Rebel receivers went deep and Scott circled out to the left of the formation and broke inside just in front of senior Terrell Williams for a 14-yard gain. From that play on, Ole Miss marched to the HOG 14 for the game-winning FG
HOT POINT CHECK UP
BE DISRUPTIVE 2- Sophomore Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace needs to get hit and often! He did not run as much as I expected but alluded the rush too many times when he should have been sacked.
Play Your Assignments- Make Ole Miss go the long road to score. On only one play did I see Arkansas out of position and scrambling to be where they were supposed to be. The Rebels had a short field twice and scored both times, but the defense held them to a field goal on one of those possessions.
Stick With the Big Three- Scott, Moncrief and Wallace. The Razorback defense did pretty well containing the big three but they still accounted for 65% of the Ole Miss total offense
Move the Ball/Score!- Nothing takes the pressure off of the defense like the offense putting the ball in the endzone. 464 yards of offense must lead to more than 27 points.
Be Sharp- Tyler Wilson has all of the pressure on his shoulders. And it showed. Just a little off most of the day and two very bad interceptions hurt.
NO TURNOVERS- Enough said. Ole Miss had two turnovers and Arkansas scored 0 off of them. Arkansas had two turnovers and Ole Miss scored 10 off of them. ENOUGH SAID.
Beware the trick play!- Nothing shuts up that crowd like successful trick plays in the kicking game. It was not a trick but the blocked punt changed the course of the first half and ultimately the game. I was very disappointed that after nearly getting the first punt blocked, Arkansas lined up in the exact same formation and Ole Miss again overpopulated the blockers again and this time, got the ball.
BE STEADY- Catch the punts and make some yards if possible. With the wind as difficult as it was, did the Razorback coaching staff give any thought to putting two returners back?
UP NEXT: TULSA
Is all the air gone out of the Razorback balloon? What about the fans? With another 11:21 a.m. start looming Saturday and a Tulsa team that just might be smelling blood, can Razorback Nation and the football team rally? The Tulsa offense is scary, but the Tulsa defense is not. Arkansas must score over 30, and quite frankly it should Saturday. The players need the support of the fans, and the fans need to see the team playing with the fight of Dennis Johnson. I am looking for a Cardinal and White outpouring Saturday. The margin for error the rest of the season is ONE if this group of seniors wants to make a fourth straight bowl and this game CANNOT be the one.