RazOrbaX Hot Points Checkup post-LSU with flashback to 1970
After the 1969 Arkansas-Texas game, ABC did not want to miss out on a rematch. After all, Bill Montgomery was a only a junior and Shootout II would be in Austin. Texas had won 29 in a row by the time the December 1970 rematch arrived. Once again, the winner would take the title and the Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks were a beat-up football team, and Texas was tired of hearing how lucky it was in Fayetteville. The Longhorns blasted to a 14-0 lead. Arkansas fought back to 14-7 and had first-and-goal on the Texas 3. Three tries from Arkansas tailbacks got it to the 1. On fourth and goal, Montgomery went left on the option and ducked inside. He came up short. Texas went 99 yards to put the game away. The second half turned into a Texas spring practice and the No. 1 Longhorns beat the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks 42-7. The UA seniors had voted before the season that it was Cotton Bowl or nothing. A Top 10 ranked Razorback team (9-2) ended its year missing a chance to be the first team in Arkansas history to win 10 games three years in a row.
Alonzo Highsmith returned
a fumble 47 yards to give
Hogs a 14-0 lead at LSU.
Arkansas could not have had a better first 25:45 of the game Friday in Baton Rouge. In fact, while not eye-popping, the Razorbacks out-rushed the Tigers in the first quarter 41 yards to 15 yards. Arkansas ran the ball more effectively out of the I formation with Broderick Green at tailback than the single back formations with Dennis Johnson. On Arkansas' second possession, the HOGS lined up in the I formation with Small at fullback and Green at tailback. It was third and 2 at the Arkansas 46-yard line. Austin Tate was the tight end on the right with Gragg in the tight slot to the right. Greg Childs was wide left. LSU was in a 4-2-5 defense. At the snap, the left side of the line stepped left and picked up their man. Strong-side tackle Grant Freeman stepped right and took his man out of the play while strong-side guard Alvin Bailey doubled down with center Travis Swanson and then slid off to get the backside linebacker. Small picked up the play side linebacker and Green burst through for 11 yards and a first down.
Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson spent too much time running for his life to have a good passing day. The opening play of the game was a good example of what would happen to the Arkansas offense after the Tigers finally got the lead. On first down from the 20-yard line, the HOGS opened up in the shotgun with Wingo to the right and Johnson to the left. Jarius Wright was wide right with Joe Adams in the slot and Cobi Hamilton was wide left. At the snap both ‘backs ran out to the flat. LSU brought a corner blitz from the left of the formation and Johnson picked it up. Hamilton curled up at the 34-yard line wide open. The problem was that junior college transfer Jason Peacock whiffed at his block attempt on 6-5 LSU sophomore Barkevious Mingo, and Wilson had to throw it away.
Defensively, the Razorbacks played hard but were just out-muscled most of the day. They did have their chances to really put the pressure on LSU to get out of their comfort zone of power running and making them throw, and the missed opportunities just killed them. After Tramain Thomas' huge hit on LSU tailback Michael Ford and Alonzo Highsmith's 47-yard return of the fumble for a touchdown, it was all about the what-ifs. Down 14-0 LSU begins its first touchdown drive with a fumbled snap. QB Jordan Jefferson picked it up and made 3 yards. Miss No. 1. After a false start penalty makes it second and 13, Jefferson drops to pass. Arkansas drops in coverage and only has pressure from the front four. Freshman Trey Flowers has the sack but cannot bring Jefferson down and he flicks the ball underhanded over the head of running back Spencer Ware. Highsmith is on the run but cannot quite get there for the interception. Misses No. 2 and 3. On the next play, Jefferson cannot find a receiver and takes off running. It will be a short gain, but Highsmith gets the facemask on the tackle and LSU gets 15 yards and a first down. Miss No. 4. LSU continues the drive and flubs an option pitch. The pitch bounces off of the LSU running backs thigh and goes forward for a first down. Miss No. 5. On first down from the Arkansas 20, Jefferson rolls right and is under heavy pressure. He is hit by a couple of HOGS but not brought down and is able to throw the ball away. Instead of a 12-yard loss, it is second and 10. Miss No. 6. You just cannot give the top-ranked team in the country six extra tries to continue a drive. LSU scores, gets back in the game.
Hot Point Check UP
OVER THROW NOT UNDER THROW: If the HOGS talented receivers break free deep, the ball must be over their shoulder. LSU did not allow the Razorback receivers to get deep all day.
HANDLE THE PHYSICAL PLAY: LSU will hit Arkansas in the mouth. The Razorbacks must handle being hit and hit back. If the HOG offensive line can win its share of the battles, Arkansas has a great chance of moving the ball and creating scoring opportunities. Razorbacks were OK in the first half, but the Tigers were just too strong and fast for the most part.
SCORE IN THE EXTENDED RED ZONE: The red zone is the area on the field from the twenty to the goal line. In this game, when Arkansas gets to the LSU 35, they must get points. This at a minimum would be a 52 yard field goal which is well in Hocker's range. But Arkansas really needs touchdowns when they are that close. Arkansas' one field goal kept it in the game but that was the drive they really needed a touchdown.
MAKE THE QBs HAVE HAPPY FEET: The LSU quarterbacks are good throwers...not great throwers. When they are attempting to pass, the Arkansas defensive line must make them uncomfortable in the pocket. Nothing easy for the LSU quarterbacks. The Razorbacks did this pretty well but did not get the big sacks and only one interception when making Jefferson uncomfortable.
KEEP EVERYTHING IN FRONT OF YOU: I think that the LSU receiving corps is the second best group in the SEC. They have size and speed. The Arkansas defensive backs cannot be so intent on helping against the run that the LSU receivers get deep. The Razorbacks cannot give up easy scores. No easy scores but too many soft coverages on third downs for easy catches. LSU was patient and took what the Arkansas defense gave them.
BEWARE THE HATTER!: I know they will want to pound the ball on the ground but if they do well running and the Razorbacks have to overload the line of scrimmage, beware! With such a sound, physical and fast team, Miles did not need any tricks.
SPECIAL TEAMS - The Arkansas special teams have had a great year. LSU teams have had a very good year as well. Both coaches could probably live with a stand off but are both looking for any edge they can get and kicking/returns has been a bonus for both. This could be the game making, game breaking phase of this very important game. Arkansas coaches could live with the kicking game stats except for one play: the game-breaking 92-yard return by Tyrann Mathieu in the second quarter.
UP NEXT: 11 WINS?
Arkansas has just finished its second consecutive 10-2 season. It is only the third time in Razorback football history that they have won 10 games in back-to-back seasons. While losing the last game of the year leaves a bitter taste, this football team has an opportunity to add its name to another bit of Razorback history. Win the bowl game and become only the third Arkansas football team to win 11 in a season. That would guarantee a Top 10 finish and possibly a Top 5 finish. I have always wondered if the 1970 HOGS regretted not getting to play one more game and make history. These HOGS will get a shot at history, and a bowl win would cap a great season.