RazOrbaX Report: Hogs almost flawless in 58-21 win over UTEP
FAYETTEVILLE - On thing coaches seem to hate are late-season, non-conference games. November is for making final pushes toward championships and bowl games. Conference opponents get your attention; the games have purpose. With all of the games now televised, TV wants some conference games early so SEC teams end up with late season non-conference games. These become take-care -of-business games. Play hard and sharp, get big leads and play a lot of players.
Texas-El Paso came to town with a pretty good football team and a free shot. The Miners led 7-0, 14-7 and were lining up to kick a 44-yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead. Tramain Thomas blocks the field goal, and all of the UTEP momentum for the evening exaporates. Arkansas takes care of business!
Tramain Thomas blocked a 44-yard
field goal to kill UTEP's early
HOGS RUN WILD
Are you kidding me? Forty-one carries for 326 yards? Everyone would have bet on 41 passes for 326 yards, but those kinds of numbers for the running game? It was a sight to behold. Knile Davis lead the way with 182 yards on only 11 carries. Arkansas' bread-and-butter running play this year has been the toss sweep. The Razorbacks have run the play with one back, two backs, one tight end and two tight end sets. The Miners saw all of them Saturday night. Coach Bobby Petrino is always adding wrinkles. From the Arkansas 30-yard line, with Cobi Hamilton lined up wide right, D.J. Williams tight right and fullback Van Stumon in the offset I formation to the right, Davis takes the toss and Williams ties up the defensive end. Hamilton comes back around going left. As the cornerback goes after Hamilton, Stumon takes him out. Davis makes a good ball fake to Hamilton, and the UTEP linebackers and safeties immediately break left. Davis scoots past the bodies on the ground (put there by Stumon and Williams) and races 70 yards for the tying touchdown. The Razorbacks had a 14-play drive in the fourth quarter. Wilson hits two short passes and Broderick Green carries 12 times and completes the 77 yard, eight-plus minute drive with a TD. This is what Coach Petrino has talked about since arriving, running down hill in the fourth quarter, eating clock and adding to the lead.
Running that effectively does two things: lets the defense rest and makes trying to stop the Arkansas passing game that much more difficult. Mallet was 19 of 26 for 215 yards. Not the numbers anyone expected coming into the game but he was very effective. Eighty percent conversions on third downs and five TD passes are more important than 300-yard games. One of the pass plays I love to watch has a receiver coming across the field and getting the ball between the far hash from where he started and the side line. From the Arkansas 39 on first and 10, the Razorbacks have two receivers to the right who are going to cross to the left. D.J. Williams is tight to the left and is going to block the defensive end. Chris Gragg is in a tight slot just of Williams left hip. The Hogs were in the shot formation with Mallett about 5 yards behind center and Wingo behind him. Mallett fakes to Wingo going right and stands tall in the pocket. Gragg comes off the line and angles from left to right getting deeper down the field with each step. Mallett reads the coverage and hits Gragg for a 24-yard gain.
DEFENSE GIVES UP 2 PLAYS
The Arkansas defense played another good ball game. Two plays, one in the first quarter and one against the reserves in the fourth accounted for 111 of the Miners 355 total yards. On the 51-yard run, linebacker Jerry Franklin was sealed from the hole by the guard and the tailback hit the hole and ran untouched. In the fourth quarter, Darrell Smith bit on a play-action fake and let the receiver go for the a 60-yard touchdown. Other than those two plays, the defense was outstanding, giving up only 90 yards in total offense in the second half. Again, 60 of that was on one play, so 30 yards offense on the other 15 plays. As with the offense, the defense has its favorite blitzes but adds new wrinkles as well. Last week, I noticed that on passing downs the HOGS would take out the defensive tackle or the noseguard and insert another defensive end. This would give the Razorbacks three fast linemen to rush the passer. Saturday night brought a new wrinkle to that. Several times all four defensive linemen were defensive ends. Petrino called it their NASCAR look. I can only remember an Arkansas team doing that one other time, 1959 against SMU and Don Meredith!
Hot Point Check Up
Defense-Play Fast, Play Smart
Goal-WIN THIRD DOWN
Texas-El Paso was four of 11 (36 percent). That was 15 percent less than normal for the Miners.
Senior QB Trevor Vittatoe was able to break containment a couple of times to keep the play alive but threw a killer interceptions while being flushed to his left and trying to throw to his right.
Goal-BUILD ON LAST WEEK
After a wake-up call on the first drive and the yardage given up in the first half, the Razorbacks shut down UTEP the remainder of the game.
Kicking Game Perfection
Breeding is getting cold only punting one time this week. Hocker was his normal self again, and Tejada was respectable kicking off but the line let him down on the last PAT as the penetration blocked his try to score on Senior Day. The coverage team missed four tackles and let the UTEP returner circle the field for a 100-yard TD, but after that held the Miners to less than 20 yards.
Offense-Play Smart, Play Fast
Hogs converted 80 percent on third down and scored on nine of ten possessions. Mission accomplished.
ZERO. No Razorback turnovers this week.
UP NEXT: MISS. STATE
Off to Starkville and a chance for this team to become one to remember. Since 1958 (53 years), the Arkansas Razorbacks have won nine games only 11 times. They HOGS have won 10 games eight times, and 11 games only twice. Each win in the next three games moves them up the charts. Arkansas has moved into the Top 13 in the BCS with two games remaining against BCS teams ranked 21 or higher. The Mississippi State Bulldogs had the best chance to beat Auburn, catching them on a Thursday night early in
the season. Dan Mullen had MSU moving in the right direction but could not get it done in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs are playing for a better bowl as well, and Starkville has not been an easy place for Arkansas to win. The Razorbacks have won there but 14 points is the largest margin of victory. I think these HOG seniors are focused on finishing well and becoming a team to remember. They are close already! GO HOGS!
UA BIG YEARS SINCE 1958