RazOrbaX Report: Breaking down Hogs win over Tennessee Tech

RazOrbaX Report: Breaking down Hogs win over Tennessee Tech

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FAYETTEVILLE - It was a beautiful day to tailgate in the Gardens.  Everyone enjoyed the weather, food, drink and friends.  There was only one topic — college football’s opening Saturday and the anticipation of the Arkansas Razorbacks 6 p.m. kickoff against Tennessee Tech. There were plenty of folks looking for tickets. While hopes are high for this season, there are still questions. Is the defense better?  What about the kicking game? Can the offense be as productive as last year?  Though the opponent was a FCS (Division 1-AA), a lot could be gleaned from this Saturday night contest.

Wade Grayson and the Hog linemen
struggled early vs. Tenn. Tech. 

Arkansas came out in a no-huddle look. It was NOT a hurry-up offense, and the HOGS did a good job of substitutions. The shot formation was on display early with sophomore running back Nile Davis getting the start. Too many false start penalties moved the HOGS back into the huddle. It does give defensive coordinators another thing to worry about as they prepare for Arkansas.  However, the Razorbacks did not look good early trying to run the ball.  Tennessee Tech’s small but quick linemen would shift right before the snap, and the Arkansas linemen would miss one, leaving the ball carrier dancing for a place to run.  The zone blocking was not great. By the second quarter, the offensive line got a “hat on a hat” and opened holes.  There is still a lot of work to do to be a better running team, but until a sack of Brandon Mitchell late in the fourth quarter, the HOGS ran for more than 200 yards and averaged 7 yards a carry. That is a good number for a passing team. 

The four-headed monster that is the Arkansas tailback situation was on display Saturday, and the reviews will be mixed. Davis got the start and made a couple of good runs but put the ball on the ground. His 67 yards led the pack. Dennis Johnson was the most explosive of the ‘backs but also put the ball on the ground. Wingo showed his illusiveness on his TD run.  Broderick Green is the bruiser of the bunch, but like last year, started slowly.

Ryan Mallett started fast and put the ball on the money all night. Tyler Wilson seemed to press and really zeroed in on one receiver for the snaps he got. Brandon Mitchell threw one perfect deep pass but freshman Maudrecus Humphrey dropped it.  D. J. Williams caught five passes, all for first downs.  Joe Adams is an unbelievable athlete and will liven up punt returns (when someone finally punts to him!). Joe showed his running skill on both of his touchdowns.  He broke a tackle attempt then outran the pack on his 85-yard TD. Adams juked one defender and exploded into the end zone for his other TD. 

Defensively, it seemed like a one-man show. Anthony Leon, at least for this game, found a home at linebacker. He looked quick, made good decisions and he brought the wood!  His tackling could be used in an instructional video. He read the plays well and was just intense. The worst play of the day by the defense ultimately turned the tide of the game for the Razorback defense. A couple of missed opportunities to tackle the Tech QB lead to a scramble play and a deep pass completion to the Arkansas 1-yard line.

The Razorbacks stayed in their 4-2-5 alignment for most of the game with Jerico Nelson in the hybrid linebacker/rover position as Tennessee Tech stayed in the shotgun most of the night. Arkansas rotated defensive tackles often, and all of them looked good, collecting nine solo tackles between the five of them seeing action.

The secondary played loose. Their best plays were on swing passes and screens. Freshman Eric Bennett got beat on one deep pass in the second quarter. The secondary play was not as impressive as I thought it might be with the pressure that was put on the Golden Eagle quarterback.

 Alex Tejada
Since Tennessee Tech elected not to kick to Joe Adams and we did not get to see what he could do. Dennis Johnson almost broke the kickoff after the TTU field goal. We expect that from Johnson. Arkansas did not have to punt. That will please the coaching staff, but the reasons will not as the Razorback drives went: on downs (TTU 39), interception (TTU 32), touchdowns on the next six, fumble (TTU36), interception (TTU 35) and on downs (TTU 31).  I really wish freshman Zach Hocker had a chance to try a 48-yard field goal on the last possession. Hocker was perfect on his extra points.  Alex Tejada was magnificent on kickoffs. Only one of the senior’s kicks was not 4-plus yards deep. Coverage was also good when Tech tried to run them out of the end zone. Twenty-four yards was the best the Golden Eagles could muster.


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