July 23, 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — Kentucky

Some random thoughts after watching a very disappointing Kentucky game.

The Good

  • Freddy Burton / Randall Cobb / Moncell Allen (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)Michael Smith is just a flat-out warrior.  But unfortunately, when we rhetorically asked a few weeks ago where this team would be without Michael Smith, we found out the hard way on Saturday night.  There’s only so much rubber on that tire, and we’ve used it.
  • For the second consecutive week, the defense played good enough to win.  The four turnovers they secured gave the offense good field position and numerous scoring opportunities.

The Bad

  • There’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing young players ‘grow up’ right before our eyes.  Guys like Joe Adams, Zach Stadther, Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson come to mind.  But as we all knew, there would be days when some of that youth and inexperience would cause Hog fans to grimace.  Still…that didn’t make it any easier to watch the train wreck that was the last five minutes of that game.
  • As Paul Petrino and others said after the game, it was “a team loss.”  And that includes the coaching staff.  Someone pointed out that we would be skewering the previous coaching regime here for a loss like that one.  And they’re probably right.
  • One of the obvious issues this coaching staff needs to improve is red zone efficiency.  Or as Bobby Petrino calls it…the “critical zone.”  Treating the diminutive Michael Smith like he’s a hulking Michael Bush in goal line situations is simply a mistake we’ve made too many times this year.  It appeared the coaches had figured that out at Auburn after scoring two touchdowns in the critical zone using misdirection plays.  But unfortunately, the one time a similar misdirection worked on Saturday, the Hogs took points off the board with a penalty.  Which leads us to the ‘Ugly’…

The Ugly

  • Four turnovers (two inside the Kentucky 5-yard line) and 102 yards in penalties will get you beat in most of the games you play.  It’s hard to feel sorry for a team who loses a close game when they make that many mistakes.
  • Finally, a big ole ‘Ugly’ thrown out to Kentucky fans.  Now…I’m not talking about the ones who left after Ramon Broadway’s interception with five minutes to go in the game.  I’m talking about the ‘fans’ who abandoned ‘their team’ before that…when they were only down by 10 points!  Several Kentucky newspaper columnists chided the fans for leaving early and noted that the stadium was less than half full to see one of the best comebacks in school history.

Walking on Sunshine also contributed to this post.

  • BlindHog

    This loss should have been obvious for weeks. You had to know that Michael Smith was going to hit the wall sometime. You had to know that redzone offense was going to cost a game. You had to know that Casey was going to have another off day, day off. You had to at least expect that this defense was vulnerable to a late rally.

    We all basked in the glow of Auburn’s self destruction and our comeback. Now we are back where we were two weeks ago. One week we wonder if we will win another game, the next week we think we have turned the corner, headed to the Weedeater bowl.

    This team is too young and too thin. These coaches are doing a good job despite all evidence to the contrary. I do think Willy gets a little ahead of himself with his schemes and expectations but, I said last week the rollercoaster would be fun to watch. It was for 55 minutes.

  • MexiHog

    I think this loss will definitely hurt the players worse then the three blow out losses this year, but I still think that maybe this loss came at a very good time. I think it will make the young hogs less cocky and try harder, at least if the coaches take advantage of the situation (as sad as it is). I think if the coaches rally the players and show them that Kentucky essentially was blown out by them, but that they ended up losing not because Kentucky played better, but because we played not to our potential, it could help the young team mature faster and get ready for the next game. I also think the seniors and leaders of the defense should take talk to the other players and tell them that if michael smith is willing to put so much into each and every game, how can they not try to win the games for his efforts.

    I really do believe we will have a good team next year, and an even better one the year after, but the coaches and leaders have to help these young guys mature.

    Also the coaches need to get together and figure out that Michael Smith and his 175 pounds, as good as they are, are no match for over 700 pounds of blockers that are trying to stop him whichever hole he tries to go through in the endzone. I really want to know what happened to the whole Chip Greggory package that the coaches kept talking about in the summer, I know he got hurt sometime, but I figured they would still try something with a bigger back. I say put in the most athletic lineman (either defensive or offensive) and give him a go. Tell him to simply hang on to the ball and run as hard and fast as he can. It would be better than what we’ve got now.

  • Jimdog

    Maybe someone can help me out here. The wildhog formation is now getting popular with other teams, the most notable being the Miami Dophins. Of course, McFadden made it work and the jury is out on whether or not other less talented backs can be somewhat consisent with it. My question relates to its origin. When it’s mentioned on TV it is usually attributed to Arkansas, with Houston Nutts name being added or not. Lately I saw were this formation was attributed to David Lee, the QBs coach ,who didn’t seem to know much about developing QBs. i had previously thought that Gus Malzahn, who was the offensive coordinator, had come up with the idea. Did Malzahn use such a formation in high school? Maybe it was a committee idea. Maybe McFadden suggested it. Also, has Nutt used this formation with any success at Misissippi? I would appreciate any input on this.

  • 10KHog

    I was there. As usual, we lost when I go to a game. The fans were cool until the end of the game. I could’ve done without a few of their fans. But, most were cordial. It’s interesting that they can’t stand Bobby Petrino, but they all think he’s a great coach.

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  • GonzoHog

    Jimdog,

    The Wildhog was really the WildCat package in the beginning.

    Gus Malzhan used it some in the HS ranks before he brought the idea to Arkansas.

    Houston Nutt always insisted that his brother Danny contributed to the package by campaigning for D-Mac to run it.

    I’m really not sure where Lee fit’s in to all of this, since Nutt supossedly turned the offense over to him the very next year.

    In that year, we ran it similar to way Gus invisioned it, but the QB (D-Mac) was usually lined up underneath center with less options than he had the year before in the shotgun.

    We seemed to run it all year that way, right up until the LSU game.

    And yes, Houston has used the WildCat/WildHog/WildRebel at Ole Miss with some sucsess early in the year against Memphis, Wake Forrest and I think Vandy, but it seem’s to have tapered off from it’s effectiveness in recent SEC games with better defenses.

    Nutt never really changes with his philosify until he’s blown a few games, so there’s really no telling if or how much it’ll be used against the Hogs.

  • Jimdog

    Gonzohog

    Thanks for the info. At best, it looks like a committee decisaion. The Lee thing was on a national report regarding the wildcat at Miami. I guess we will never know the true story, especialy if Malzahn doesn’t tell his side of it. Gus proved he could play the political game at Fayetteville, that is, knowing when to say something and when not to. Although Mississippi is penciled in by Hog fans, the drama continues with Tulsa coming in. I don’t know how many fans know this but the coach of Tulsa was formerly the coach at Allen High School just North of Dallas. Allen is the school that the Dick brothers attended.., Casey was much more of a option running QB there although you wouldn’t know it from what has transpired with his time at Arkansas.* Another Arkansas connection was Graham’s replacing the old Arkansas dinosaur at Rice, Ken Hatfield. Graham turned a 1-11 team into 7-5 winner and a bowl game. Another Arkansas:cnnection: Graham replaced Steve Kragthorpe at Tulsa who went to … Louisville, Petrino’s old school. Then ther e is Gus Malzahn who was an old friend of Graham’s and, of course, he left the tempest in Hogville. to bring the spead to Tulsa. (Graham is a defensive specialist – His offensive success at Rice was due to hiring Major Applewhite, former Texas QB). Also, Nathan Dick had committed to Rice until Graham left so Graham knows the Dick boys well. Such internicene stuff. As far as the Mississippi game is concerned, Arkansas has never been a special rival for Ole Miss other than another SEC game . the big games for Ole Miss have been LSU and recently, Mississippi State. Because of tradtition Ole Miss has a number of teams ahead of Arkansas as a must win, edpecially Alabama and Auburn. Certainly Nutt will be fired up but can he get the extra effort from his team to win one for the old bull coach. Tulsa will probably be fired up, not because of Malzahn, but because Arrkansas is an SEC team that would move Tulsa up in the polls for the coveted non-BCS bowl bid postition. Also, Malzahn knows Arkansas’ personell. A tough couple of games for Petrino.. At this juncture, I think that Arkansas has more of chance against Nutt than Graham. Tulsa has the highest rated QB in the nation, is the top scoring team, and is 5th in the nationo in passing. Arkansas secondary has not exactly been stellar. However, Jevon Snead of Ole Miss can be very good .and give the Hogs trouble if there is no pass rush.. .Ther is more drama in these next two games than in the whole season collectively. What say you, Gonzo?

    * I would venture to say that Casey’s experience as a passin QB might be equivalent to a sophomore who had played as a freshman.. One more year with experienced recievers could have made a big difference .I would agree with you on Nutt’s tendencies revealing themselves. Mississippi probably leads the nation in close games lost. Why am I not surprised?

  • GonzoHog

    I’m impressed with your attention to detail Jimdog.

    I had forgotten that Kragthorpe was the HC at Tulsa before he took over at Louisville.

    Personally, I think that was a drastic downgrade from Petrino.

    Your right about the drama coming up from the next two ballgames too, although I think most of it will be surrounding Nutt.

    Have you heard about the flyover that some of the Ole Miss allumni have been donating to, to fly over Reynolds Razorback Stadium?

    NO KIDDIN! Thier actually trying to get this thing going were they have a fly over with a banner that say’s “OLE MISS IS NUTTS ABOUT HOUSTON”

    They have one blog site over there called THE RED SOLO CUP, that is embarrasingly against it, because of it’s stupidity.

    As a matter of fact, i’m thinking about donating to the cause myself to help them along. (anything to help them look more stupid than they already do)

    Nutt was quoted as saying “I would love it”.

    Imagine that.

  • OwassoHog

    I’m kinda hoping that we have our own plane this week… I’d suggested it say, “Welcome Home, Houston! We miss our money! Now leave!” ;-)

  • GonzoHog

    That’s pretty good Owasso. Here’s another one.

    STILL LOVE THAT HELMET GOLDEN BOY???

  • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ HogBlogger

    Jimdog – here is the link to the original article on the Wildcat package that I found way back when the Razorbacks first started talking about it.

    http://www.coachwyatt.com/wildcat.html

    This article is from 1998. You will notice that this talks more about the double wing, not the single wing version. I suspect this came to Gus’s attention when he went to Springdale because Springdale had historically ran the double wing offense with great success.

    It should also be noted that the ‘radar option’ from the shotgun came into being at Arkansas during the Matt Jones era with David Lee on staff. I haven’t studied where it originated.

    The motion looks from the Wildcat, or Wild Hog, or whatever, seem to have come from some things that Gus was doing while at Shiloh. However, the actual plays have existed out of various formations for decades.

    I really don’t think you can give the Wildcat a firm source. Just as the Wishbone was a variant on the options serie from the T Formation, the T Formation was a variant on the single wing and double wing direct snap plays that preceded the quarterback going under center. If memory serves (as Batman would say), I think it was George Halas that first put the quarterback under center on a regular basis.

    If you want to have fun looking at passing offense, Google ‘west coast offense’.

    Clever offensive coordinators in today’s world tend to embrace elements of all of the schools of offense to some extent. As in most things in life, you are simply standing on the shoulders of what has gone before.

  • Jimdog

    Tipster

    Good information. Where you once a coach? Quoting from Newton no less Naw, you couldn’t have been a coach., Newton is some kid in florida that can run a 4.4