December 15, 2017

Strength In Numbers

It was a pretty strange turn of events to see a Bobby Petrino-coached Razorback team win a game due to a strong rushing performance.  Even stranger that they beat a Houston Dale Nutt-coached team that passed for over 300 yards.

Rudell Crim (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)But it was the Razorback run defense that hit the field against Ole Miss apparently equipped with new batteries.  (The old ones were exposed as incredibly leaky by one Cameron Newton.)  The defense put on a wonderful display on Saturday of team speed and swarming to the ball.

Good thing Houston Dale only believes in passing the ball after reaching a certain count of running plays.  The Arkansas secondary wasn’t up to the task when the D-line didn’t get pressure on the quarterback.

To their credit, the Razorback defense played the last few possessions on pride.  They had spent a lot of time on the field against a very punishing offense.   The Ole Miss fumble at the one yard line was definitely a gift that saved a touchdown.  Had the Rebel Black Bears scored, there’s no telling what the final outcome would have been.

Special teams were near flawless in execution.  Wind-aided touchbacks protected the still suspect kickoff coverage unit.

The only real blemish was Joe Adams foolishly fielding a punt inside the 10-yard line.  But rather than being meekly tackled and slinking to the bench to get chewed out, Adams chose the tactic of distracting the coaches from his error by running 97 yards for a touchdown.  Uh yeah…Coach Petrino needs to find even more ways to get this guy the ball.

It is interesting that the offense seems to have a lot more intensity with Tyler Wilson in the game.  Why the Ryan Mallett-led offense continues to experience a letdown following a couple of scores…I don’t know.  The Wilson-led intensity could be explained by the other offensive players picking up their game to support the second string guy.  Whatever…there is definitely a difference in performance.

Knile Davis ran for 117 of his 179 yards with Wilson in the game.  The O-line blocked beautifully for Davis, but he also made some cuts and hit some holes that have been there all year.  He is by far the best of the backs and deserves the bulk of the carries.

It’s very obvious that this Razorback team is growing up before our eyes.  The defense and special teams responded well to the debacle of the Auburn game.  Perhaps the Hogs have found a running game by placing their faith in Knile Davis.

If they can figure out how to bring some type of consistent performance to the offense, there’s no reason to lose another game.  Keep having these long dry spells in scoring and it will be a struggle to go .500 in the remaining conference games.

  • HogBlogger, I think you hit it. When Mallett is in the game, there seems to be the feeling that ‘don’t worry, he’ll make a play’. When Wilson is in there, its more ‘hey, I’ve got to do my part for this play/drive to be successful’. And thus the difference in the collective play of the offense.

    Something they’ve got to overcome.

  • GolfHog

    Or,

    We may just see more of the offense with a QB that has touch. They may respond to his leadership better. He is going to be a good one.

  • Jim Dogg

    I disagree with those who are dumping on the defense. Sure the secondary could be better, but Hogblogger is right; the tackling is better and, except for the end of the Auburn game, they are getting to the ball carrier in numbers. Dyspeptics here don’t seem to realize that the Hogs have faced two of the best option QBs in the nation in Newton and Masoli. Just look what Cam did to LSU, presumably one of the best defensive units in the SEC if not the country. I give Miles credit, just keep Auburn out of the end zone and hope for the best. This apprently was Willy’s strategy too, only to outscore Auburn, something LSU would have trouble doing. Phantom touchdowns and fumbles turned that game around for Willy since the defense looked like it just gave up. I might be wrong, but I think that Masoli is now coming into his own and will be a major threat to future opponents. Look how long it took Nutt to realize that McCluster was the straw that stirs the drink. That hestitation probably gave Ingram the Heisman since Mc was clearly the best back in the SEC but he didn’t have enough playing time to get the numbers.

    I think that Nutt’s game plan was to stop the pass first, which I think made the defense softer on runs. Arkansas was set up to stop the run, which in part but not entirely, explains Masoli’s success through the air. It seemed to have taken Nutt until the second half to figure that out. The real defense will show up for Vanderbilt, I believe. A more reasonable assessment of the defense will come next week.

    Again I will complain. What I saw was the Rebel defender having Mallet in his grasp and then the play was presumably whistled dead; but as the two struggled the Ole Miss defender finally got some leverage and body slammed Mallet to the turf(Isn’t this where he injured his shoulder?). In the NFL that would have been unnecessary roughness. Now if the defender had done his WEE move as he got to the QB or as a quick continuation of the tackle, then no problem, football is a contact sport. But he was riding Mallet until he got his leverage. What was the ref doing picking his nose? Hey, maybe I’m wrong, but fair is fair, can we do that to Garcia (or maybe a horse collar or two)? Another complaint, in the Pit-Miami game, a TD was overuled because there was no evidence that the ball crossed the line. Nevermind, that Miami got screwed on the posssesion call, that film should be sent to SEC officials with the explanation, that there was no evidence to replay officials that the ball had crossed the line. In the Auburn game there also was no evidence that the ball had crossed the line either. (this “incontrovertible evidence” crap is getting old) Someone should put together a montage of these ridiculous calls (it’s one thing for the refs but certainly another for the replay officials to screw up) and put it on local TV (constantly). Again does anybody know the ratio of interference calls with SEC refs? Sorry, just had to get that off of my chest.

  • Dyeinghog

    Jim man there is no way to take up for this defense and no way you can say Vandy is the real test to see where this defense is. When ever you give up 500 yards to a HDN team that is saying a lot about your defense and if it wasn’t for the cupcakes in the beginning of the year this team would still be in the basement of the SEC. Every game the defensive backs continue to make the same mistake. Looking in the backfield as the receiver flys by now why hasn’t mustache told them to just worry about your guy.

    I think the reason the teams seems like it plays a little harder for Wilson than Mallet has nothing to do with them wanting to make plays for the second string guy or maybe them thinking that Mallet is going to make the play. I think that Wilson goes through his reads and it is essential that they finish the play. With Mallet he establishes a pattern every game with one receiver. I have said it before when Mallet gets that ball in his hand he has his mind set on where he is going and he does not care if that player has 3 defenders on him. He gets in sync with his go to receiver early which makes the others not go all out. Why would I go all out if I know that 7 out of 10 pass is going to go to the same guy. Thats the very reason a different receiver has been successful every game because that is who he is targeting that game instead of going through his reads better.

    • Jim Dogg

      I rest my defense case with this: Newton and Masoli are exceptional athletes who can take over a game with their pass-run option. Newton has been doing this to everyone and I think it has finally occured to Nutt that he has to put his offense primarily in the hands of Jeremiah. Look what Newton did to the LSU defense. So am I to assume that you think that LSU’s defense is chopped liver? The way to defense these guys is to keep them out of the end zone and have them substituting field goals. I don’t think you can judge a defense mainly on the basis of having to stop Newton and Masoli.* Sorry, but with those guys they are going to get their yardage no matter what and I don’t think judging a defense solely against such an offense is fair. Regarding the Vanderbilt game, I think that we would agree the defense sucks if the Commodores run up large yardage, but I don’t think that will happen (neither do the oddsmakers). I think that how the defense stacks up with Vandy will portend what is coming down the road, since I believe that those teams also do not have the firepower to keep up with the Hogs (as usual, I could be wrong). I do agree that the secondary seems to be getting beat. I was at the A & M game and I thought the coverage was good, but what did it get them? Interference calls. I’ve seen more contact in flag football games than in those calls. In fact, I didn’t realize the receiver could grab a defender’s jersey and pull him down (those were SEC officials). I still can’t get it out of my head that the secondary is running scared. Only the Arkansas team and coaches have a feel for this. However, the Hogs defense doesn’t have to be very good Just good enough.

      One last thing about the defense, for those who felt inconvenienced and put out by the delays. As one writer suggested it may have saved the game for the Hogs. It gave the defense a chance to rest from having to chase Masoli. Should have had couple of rain delays the week before.

      Two things I saw on the ESPN Experts Show that I would like to share. First, one commentator, talking about Boise State and their trick plays, said that some coaches are “systems” coaches. That is they have in mind a progression based on circumstances and not necessarily the feel of the momoment (Peterson apparently is not dedicated to a systems approach). If a coach is too systematized he becomes predictable. He developes a “tell” so to speak. The pass to Hamilton was away from the system and Nutt’s defense was set up to stop the run because that was what was expected. I always felt, in spite of the fact that Nutt could be creative at times, he may have been too systematic, as evidenced by the feeling that the other SEC coaches seemed to have his number on many play calls.

      Second, again on the Experts, the SEC suspension of a MSU player for excessive roughness was discussed. What caught my attention was one commentator wanted to know why horse collars weren’t being called in the NCAA games. Must have seen the Auburn game.

      *Newton vs Masoli. Given their teams’ defensive capabilities this could be the offensive yardage show of the year in the SEC or the country. Robinson vs Pryor could be number 2.

  • GolfHog

    You can defend this defense if your expectations are not too high. Masoli made half of his yards on three long plays to 6’6″ recievers in single coverage. Winston played his pretty well, he was just too short.

    I want to know where the linebackers are. We are small now and have only one linebacker committed in this class. Is it the intention to play safeties at linebacker? It must be. Speed is great. But, you need a little beef in the middle.

  • Soupdhog

    Dyeing, you gotta check your stats before you post dude…

    Ole Miss’ offense doesn’t suck. They average about 400 yards per game.

    Your so wrong on Mallett I almost spit my drink out when I read your comment. Mallett rarely throws into tight coverage, in fact, most of his completions are when guys are wide open or have separation.

    Mallett doesn’t focus on one guy…he focuses on the open man. Take a look at the yards per receiver:

    Childs 572 yds

    Adams 544 yds

    Wright 338 yds

    Williams 334 yds

    Hamilton 227 yds

    Wingo 212 yds

    Looks like a pretty good distribution to me.

    I agree with Jimdogg – Nutt was trying to stop the pass and that opened up the running game a bit. I also think Davis is getting more experience in finding the holes vs following the blocking scheme like Green and Wingo do. Most of Davis’ good gains came from cutbacks, which is what Dennis Johnson can do (and we miss). I also think that with Davis’ success the O line got more confidence in their ability to hold their blocks to allow some cut backs to happen.

    Our defensive secondary isn’t really bad. I do think that they are afraid to cover tight due to all the PI calls that happen. It seems if these guys brush the receiver a flag is thrown. That causes DBs to relax the coverage and creates separation.

    Also, Masoli is a great player – there is a reason he was mentioned as a Heisman candidate before he got kicked out of school. I think Ole Miss is getting a little more comfortable with him and his style of play has opened things up for Nutt. I think Ole Miss will win some big games before this season is over. They are a decent team, despite what happened early in the year.

    We should be pleased we are 5-2 vs 2-5, and that our only losses were to 2 of the top 6 teams in the nation.

    • “I think Ole Miss will win some big games before this season is over.”

      …..maybe this week vs. Auburn? You know what happened to Bama after Arkansas and Florida. This is Auburn’s “game 3” after Arkansas and LSU. This might be the week. Not sayin’…just sayin’. 😉

      • Jim Dogg

        The only way Ole Miss will beat Auburn is for Masoli to outscore Newton. Should be interesting.

      • soupdhog

        I think it can happen – Nutt can be the giant killer, and Auburn looked beatable against LSU (and us, until the 4th quarter). If LSU had half of an offense they would have won that game.

        I hate to say it, but the officiating in that game should be ‘interesting’.

  • Dyeinghog

    Ok let me clarify my statement I don’t mean Nutt teams suck. His teams are not a 500 yards of offense team. His average comes with a couple of cupcake teams mixed in also. Since we are talking about stats were is our defense ranked when it comes to SEC competition. The reason all his players are open is because we have a good offense but I have seen some plays just like the first interception he threw Saturday where the guy is not open and he throws it up anyway. I am not saying he is a bad QB. Go back and look at some of the other games and it is obvious he finds his favorite early. Read what I saying good because I am not saying he has one favorite target. I am saying each game he finds his favorite target.

    • GolfHog

      The match ups each week may dictate which reciever will have the most opportunity in the game plan for that week. And, yes, Mallett appears to have selected a reciever before the snap. That may be a pre-snap read that he has hit or missed. It may be a bit of laziness, or both.

      If you plan is to get up early with your passing game then you may structure your defense to stop the pass which your opponent must use while trying to catch up.

  • I’m not sure if Mallett is “locking in” pre-snap or trying to force the ball to D.J. Williams when he shouldn’t. The interception on the first play was exactly the same interception he threw the week before. The correct read was the receiver in the flat – wide open both times.

    He missed several open receivers Saturday. He threw several balls high. Even the touchdown to Childs was a poor throw saved by a circus catch.

    I think he is trying to do too much at the line at times. I see him missing reads, both at the line and during the plays. I see him forcing the ball towards D.J. when something else is open. I see him leaning on Childs when he feels he needs a play.

    I think Sunshine has a point. When Mallett’s out there the offense seems to be waiting on him to do something great versus bearing down and executing.

    The reason the early script works so well for him is that the plays are planned so that there is little to read and the receivers tend to be very open.

    When he’s actually having to go to work after the first quarter and be a quarterback he’s struggling a lot.

    I do have the thought that his left shoulder may be more hurt than we know. He seems much more sluggish lately. Wilson definitely looks quicker than Mallett right now.

    • Jim Dogg

      Some good analysis here. No one is discussing this, but is Mallet ready for the NFL? At least from the point of view of being in the first round of the draft. Mallet seems to have not improved certain parts of his game, and as someone once mentioned here, does any NFL team want a D. Russell or R. Leaf; QBs that can throw a mile but don’t have good decision making skills or touch. That being said, will Mallet come back for another year? All (we hope) of his receivers returning (minus Williams) and a more experienced O line would be a good reason. Mallet might need another year to improve his stats and capabilities. At the beginning of the season Mallet was the golden boy in the SEC, but now Newton and even Masoli have replaced him in the fermament. However, if Ryan lights it up for the rest of the season, then the NFL may take a closer look. Fortunately we look to be in excellent shape with or without Mallet.

      Insofar as pass routes are concerned, I paraphrase David Pollack the former Georgia lineman and now ESPNer when asked his opinion of the number one team, Breaking away from his colleages who were split on Oregon or Boise, he said, I don’t know what it is that Cam Newton’s selling but I’m buying it. I don’t know what Childs’ is selling on that slant pass into the middle but I’m, buying it. When that play hooks up and the defender doesn’t make the tackle it’s big yardage ahead. Childs is too fast and quick for LBs and too strong for DBs. Coaches don’t like that pass because mistakes and tips translate into interceptions. But what a way to get Childs in space. Wonder who has the best touch on that pass, Mallet or Wilson?

      • That slant pass has to be thrown at the mid to low part of the numbers and in stride for the receiver to break. Mallett’s throwing at people’s head or higher right now on the 15 yard and less passes. Throwing high to a receiver over the middle is a big quarterbacking no-no.

        I wondered a few games back why we didn’t have more slant hot reads. Now we seem to have the play in the arsenal. Childs is the kind of receiver that runs it well.

    • Soupdhog

      I’d agree with this. When Mallett has to go off script execution is marginal. This is just part of the learning curve. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are masters at this – but they didn’t learn this in college.

      Mallett may have a NFL arm, but serving another year under Petrino may help his defensive reads. With the holdout looming who knows what will happen?

      Also, injuries should be a real discussion. The SEC officials are doing a horrible job at protecting QBs this year. LSU’s Shepherd is lucky he didn’t break his back and neck when Fairley (ironic name, huh?) picked him up and threw him down on a sack – that should be a personal foul. And the missed horse collars? As long as the officials let the QBs get murdered Mallett may not want to risk putting in another year.

      For receivers, I think Childs is gone. He is without a doubt one of the best receivers in the country. I think Adams will hang around another year.

  • Dyeinghog

    I know it might sound selfish but I want Mallet to leave. No doubt he has a big arm and he can make passes that not many in the SEC or NFL can make but like other posters have pointed out he does wonderful on scripted plays. When it comes to him reading the defense and calling a play his % of completion goes down. Not only that I have heard nothing but good things about Brandon Mitchell and the other QB whos name slips me now. Not Tyler though. I have always thought highly of Childs however I will say he reminded me a lot of T.O last year with the big drops at the worst times. He has seem to correct this and in my opinion is better than Green and Jones and should be the #1 receiver out.

    • Mallett wasn’t ready last year and he’s taken a bit of a step back this year. However, in the right situation he can do well in the NFL. I think everyone expects he will go unless the NFL lock-out thing becomes a big problem.

      Tyler Wilson should get two years followed by Brandon Mitchell. Mitchell is much more of a run threat and makes me think of Doug Williams when he passes the ball. He’s got a gun for an arm. Tyler Wilson’s arm is fine for Petrino’s offense. Wilson is more of a Joe Montana type of passer.

      I think we have a program where the quarterback, unless totally amazing, isn’t going to play until their Junior year. That will make certain they are totally “trained up.”

  • Here’s my take on Mallett. His abilities are limited because of his mental capacity. Wilson is a smarter QB, period.

    Take last season for example. Mallett made the same mistakes, over and over for the entire year.

    If the defensive competition was weak, he looked like superman with his cannon of an arm. If the defense was strong, he was not mobile enough in the pocket to get away from pressure, not accurate enough and threw the ball too damn hard to catch on short throws and resorted to throwing 40 yards down field on 3rd down plays he didn’t have to. (which is THE reason why D.J. Williams recieving stats took a dive)

    When Mallett leaves, the difference will be seen. Wilson does not possess these kind of tendencies. He learns, evaluates his weaknesses and corrects his shortcomings.

    Does anyone know the reason why Wilson doesn’t continually fumble snaps like he’s did the past 2 seasons? It’s because this young man has literally worked his a$$ off since he arrived on campus.

    It doesn’t end there. It’s in his structure. When Wilson enters a regular season as “the guy”, I promise you, Hog fans will see the difference like night and day when comparing on field developement between Mallett and Wilson.

    Combine this with the fact the Defense, Sts, O-line, and RBs will continue to improve next season, people who said this was supposed to be “our year” because of Mallett, will see just how impaitient they really were with those statements at the time.