December 12, 2018

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — Texas A&M

Some random thoughts after the Razorbacks’ win in “Big D” over Texas A&M.

The Good

  • Cobi Hamilton (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)On a day when the offense was not as potent as Hog fans have come to expect, the Razorback defense came to play.  The Hogs held quarterback Jarrod Johnson (15-40, 212 yards) and an Aggie offense that came in averaging over 500 yards per game, to only 324 yards.
  • Given more opportunities, running back Knile Davis produced again in the run game.  Davis toted the rock 10 times for 82 yards including a 45-yarder that set up the Hogs’ first score.
  • It seems like the Razorback receivers have taken turns each week being the stat sheet leader.  After a quiet first four games, Texarkana sophomore Cobi Hamilton had his turn Saturday.  Hamilton’s five catches for 98 yards, including a 71-yard TD in the first quarter, were season-highs.
  • On a day where field position was key, punter Dylan Breeding had yet another stellar day.  Breeding’s eight punts for a 42.9 average (including four inside the 20) kept the Aggies backed up all day.
  • Safety Tramain Thomas had his best day as a Razorback.  Thomas recovered two fumbles, intercepted the ‘hail mary’ pass at the end of the game and recorded seven tackles along the way.  Thomas and the Hogs forced four turnovers on the day, but that leads us to…

The Bad

  • Despite forcing those four turnovers, the Hog offense could not capitalize on them all day.  After back-to-back first half possessions ended in fumble recoveries by Thomas and Rudell Crim, the offense squandered both chances deep in A&M territory, coming away empty-handed both times.
  • For the second game in a row, the Razorback offense mustered only 3 points in the second half.  Bad.  Very bad.  Enough said.

The Ugly

  • It’s appropriate that Cowboys Stadium is just down the street from Six Flags.  The Razorbacks were tagged with 13 penalties for 108 yards and those infractions, coupled with negative plays (three sacks and three tackles for loss), made it impossible to sustain drives all day long.
  • The botched fake field goal attempt was a bad call that was very poorly executed.  While we’re sure the Razorback staff saw something on film that would make them think it would work, the Hogs were fortunate that A&M didn’t capitalize with points after the momentum shift.

Of course, we can’t mention everything that was “Good, Bad and Ugly.”  What did we leave out?

Comments

  1. The win was good. The second half was bad. But it’s the ugly that is starting to really stand out. Yes, Davis appears to be the best of the lot. Wingo is a good reciever out of the backfield. But, our run game is simply UGLY. A good SEC running back has to have a bit of linebacker in him. The last two yards of most runs should be the two yards right behind the last tackler. You have to lower a head and shoulder and deliver a blow. All that tiptoeing and dancin’ in the hole looks junior high at best.

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that about 40,000 other Razorback fans in the stadium agreed with me. Those two interference calls appeared bogus, and if anything there should have been offensive pass interference. On both plays the receiver grabbed the jersies of the defenders and it looked like they pulled them down. One of those calls gave the Aggies the momentum for a TD since it was third down. (Combine that with the early gift that Mallet gave the Aggies the only score that A & M would have had was the field goal, which made the defense look even more impressive). I am not one to simply complain about the officiating, but here’s an opportunity for a stats freak to check out. Given that Mallet throws a lot, it would interesting to see how many interference calls Arkansas gets per throw from SEC refs relative to the opposition who usually don’t throw quite as much. May not be bias (unintentional?) there but who knows? After last year I would believe anything. It was obvious that the Aggies best offensive play was pass interference. In the LSU-Florida game there was a similar call against the Tigers that led to a Gator TD. Miles nearly went bezerk when he saw the replay. Perhaps the SEC refs could give us all a seminar on what constitutes pass interference and what does not. In case one hasn’t noticed Mallet is not throwing as much down field. Could it be that Petrino is afraid that the refs will not give the Hogs the same benefit of the doubt (or in contrast to my paranoid mind, Bp is just tryiing to sit on a lead) Another call was the personal foul on Mallet. My son recorded the game and he said that it looked like Mallet was just trying to untangle himself. An Arkansas player was shoved hard when he was out of bounds and no call, not serious, but if the Hogs had done it? Again in the LSU game, an LSU player was shoved hard when out of bounds and no call. Oh well, at least the refs haven’t given Hog opponents a fifth down (yet).

    Insofar as Green is concerned, they have to go up the gut often enough to keep the defense honest. Green may not get much yardage, but he doesn’t usually lose any either. Given a small hole he can get three, a larger one he’ll get more. Davis is quicker and faster and is most effective on the edge. The Hogs, at this point, still seem inconsistent on their drives, especially in the short passing game. Blitzes are an invitation for screens and swing passes that the Hogs are not executing. One swing, to Green I believe, was dropped and he had all the way open to Ranger Stadium to run. Mallet was moving out of the pocket more, and although he’s not as good as when he sets his feet, he can still get it to an open receiver or has a better chance of throwing it away. If they can get the screens and wing passes going, that’s one way of beating the pressure (dependant on the tight end holding up or pushing the defensive end inside. It may not be what BP or mallet wants but he needs to work on the sprint outs.

  3. Bad: The late-afternoon sunlight glaring onto the field at Jerryland.

    Ugly: Maybe I was the only one bothered, but Ron Franklin’s incredulity, mentioned twice at the beginning of the game, that so many Arkansas fans crawled out of the hills to come all the way to Arlington was very annoying. I was bracing for barefoot and toothless references to come next.

    • Scott Wood says:

      Don’t look too hard into that comment. He said “alot of fans have came down out of the hills to watch this game.” Well guess what, we are from Arkansas and we live in the hills. It’s the Ozarks.

      I take pride in being a hillbilly from Arkansas. We are for the most part “country folk”. I mean you can’t go to a game and “call some hogs” and expect to be referred to as some harvard educated type yuppies can you?

      • You’re right. I must be the only well-educated Arkansan that grew up in the mountains of Arkansas that doesn’t like being called a hillbilly.

  4. dyeinghog says:

    The ugly to me is the forced running game. I mean it was so obvious when it was coming and I think that forcing this running game is really getting our receivers and qb off track. Also Winston was a major ugly I have been lobbying to get him in the game more but with the little playing time he got I see why he is holding up the bench I mean he is making elemetary mistakes and for a kid rated a 5 star out of high school you wouldn’t think he would make some of those. My last ugly has to be how easily BG goes down I mean its like they look for a reason to hit the ground every time a defender touches them they never fight to break tackles. I think Leon was a good I saw a lot of good things from him on Saturday,

    • Carolina Hog says:

      Agreed. it is like someone shot him with a buffalo gun. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of Dennis Johnson. That sucker will fight.

  5. Bad: Knile Davis only had 10 carries…that’s emphasizing the run game? He still had 82 yards. I think the kid is showing he’s got the potential to be big time. He needs the ball 15 times a game at minimum.

  6. Pavlov's Hog says:

    The Good is that the team keeps improving game after game.

    The Bad is that the team keeps improving game after game. Slowly.

    The Ugly is that the team needs improving game after game. Quickly.

    On the topic of Running Back, several things just stand out to me play after play.

    Broderick Green – Should be the biggest and strongest of the three backs, but…

    Quickness: Just seems slow to the hole, so it tends to be closed by the time he gets there. He has got to commit to the play and explode forward to the hole. There is no time to wait for the lanes to open up. A crease may be all there will be, and that, for only a moment.

    Leg Strength: Just don’t see the leg churn expected of a big back grinding out yards. In traffic you have to be able to get a push and he doesn’t seem to have enough lower body strength and determination to move the pile when he is met by defenders.

    Pad Level: Generally meets the defenders right at the line, and is usually still standing too tall in traffic. His pad level has got to drop low enough when he hits the hole to be harder to stop him at first contact and will put him in the best posture for driving his legs with power.

    Balance: Seems amazingly easy to knock off balance for a big running back. The slightest touch around the feet and he is toppled over. He has got to be able to rip free, keep his balance, and keep his legs churning. He needs to focus on pulling his feet up off the ground forcefully and pile driving them down to the turf with strength and power on every step to be able to keep from being tripped up so easily.

    What to do?: Get him on a balance board and bump him around so he can learn to stay on his feet after contact until at least 3 defenders wrap him up and drag him down.

    Presses and Squats. Increase his lower body strength so he can muscle through the line for those couple extra yards. He has got to make Defensive line coaches feel a need to stack the line to keep him from dropping his pads and moving the whole pile for 2 or 3 extra yards.

    Teach him to run uphill – backwards. The human body can create much more leg power in reverse than it can in a forward lean. He needs to learn to harness that in the pile.

    Ronnie Wingo – Has the best speed and ability to change direction smoothly, but…

    Quickness: Takes too long to get to the hole. He is way too quick for that. Got to stop trying to shake defenders and changing direction before even getting to the line. He needs to trust the O-line will have the crease ready when he gets there, and then trust his speed to get through the hole. Use his shiftiness to elude tackles —after- he is through the line.

    Direction: Again, too much dancing around and attempts to run around defenders to the edge. D-1 defenses, especially in the SEC, are much too fast to be outrun to the edge 99% of the time. Linebackers run 4.4 – 40’s too. He has the speed to outrun defenders in a footrace, but doesn’t turn up field soon enough. Would get 2, 3, 4 more yards per carry by running North and South sooner rather than later. Not going to beat them to the edge and then make the turn up field before they catch up.

    Balance: Good balance and shiftiness. May be the most elusive of the three, but not able to demonstrate and make his cuts, because too much East West not enough North South movement.

    What to do?: Work on hitting his holes moving straight upfield. Perhaps give him a lead blocker to follow, like maybe a Kniles or Broderick as a FB. hrmmmm…..

    Kniles Davis – Most complete of the three right now, but…

    Quickness: Has the best first step to the hole. He needs to keep hitting it hard. Still has a little tendency to make a cut before the hole instead of after.

    Power: Has the strength to make it through the first crease. Needs to trust his size and strength to turn back into the CBs and keep from being driven out of bounds as easy.

    Direction: Makes good, quick power cuts, but has the tendency to try plant and evade laterally looking for big yards instead of plant and turn upfield to take what is there, fight for yards, maybe break a tackle and then get the big yards.

    What to do?: First, he needs more touches. Then he just needs to trust himself and turn up field quicker. Would like to see what he might do with Broderick as a lead blocker. hrmmm…

    And now for the off-the-wall segment of our program:

    I know it probably isn’t in Petrino’s dossier, but It might be interesting to consider a little spread-T formation using Mallett, Green and Davis; Mallet, Green and Wingo, or Mallett, Davis and Wingo using either Green or Davis as a lead blocker. Perhaps we could also try a little wishbone with a trio of Mitchell, Green and Davis; Mitchell, Green and Wingo; or Mitchell, Davis and Wingo. And of course last, but not least maybe a little WildHog with Davis and Wingo; Mitchell and Wingo, Mitchell and Davis, or…wait for it…Davis or Mitchell and Joe Adams.

  7. I agree with the above comments. I also think that each running back should be required to watch Hershal Walker videos, especially BGreen. He should be blowing thru a lot of the backs, shredding tacklers. Walker was a beast, and my best wife always praised him, and she was right! He’s shed blockers like water on a duck’s back. And the protection for Mallet must be looked at, we know teams are going to try and pressure him, so they need to practice against that constantly to plan for the ‘unexpected’. I love the Hogs, and I love having Petrino, as I know he is as upset at the efficency of the offense as we are, and I know they are working things, but you want them to meet expectations and to play to the level of competition and then some. I want an attitude from this team that says if they come out at us and crazy as SC did to Alabama, then we’re going to turn it a notch up above that. Go Hogs!

  8. Carolina Hog says:

    I’m so pissed that SC got the win over ‘bama instead of us. That should have been us. Damn!

  9. Pressing the issue in the running game was very evident. And while the running game doesn’t seem to be where it needs to be, it WAS a good step forward from where it has been.

    Honestly, I think BP had the lead and really was trying to play kill the clock with our runs. Thinking back to the three TD passes early in the game, we marched down the field fairly easily. We probably could have scored 40+ on A&M. But I tend to say that BP was gearing up for other scenarios later in the year. AND, at the same time, make his defense do some serious gut checks.

    I didn’t see much running out of the Shot. Nor did I see a lot of traditional sets where we usually throw out of, but instead ran.

    I think this game was a way to tune-up for Auburn, but not reveal much about our upcoming offensive game plan. This next match up is our last big game for a while and (aren’t they all) it’s a must-win to continue our special season.

    • You could be on to something there seth. Auburn will use much of the A&M game-tape to prepare their defense for Mallett & co.

      If we pass (call passing plays) against the Tigers like we did against Georgia and Bama, I don’t see the Auburn D-line getting consistant enough pressure against our O-line to rattle Mallett in the 4th qr.like Bama did.

      Their secondary also looks very suspect to me, which should play right into our hands.

      We have to clean up our act with the penalties. The A&M game was terrible with all the illegal procedure penalties that came before run plays. It’s as if we haven’t run the ball consistantly enough times to work out the bugs yet. We have to get better at correcting this.

  10. Scott Wood says:

    I think we should just start throwing the ball all the time. Make a team’s secondary beat us. We have probably the best WR corps in the country. Air the ball out with that big QB and his cannon arm. When the defense backs up to help out their safeties and corners, then run the ball. Not the other way around.

  11. Defense Wins Champio says:

    Good win. Always a win, is a win, is a win. Yes, Petrino ate the clock smartly even with a second-rate running game. Johnson showed he is the best and Davis has shown he is the best runner now…not sure how his blocking is when we are passing and that may be what is holding him out. I have the highest praise for offense and defensive linemen for they generally get no glory just hard work and criticism. They are the heart of the program. Hogs certainly will face a much better QB in Newton. The man seems to be an excellent runner and passer. Hard combo to beat. However, Hogs should be able to out score them. I expect a high scoring affair but you just never know about match ups until it is over. Alabama certainly has the best RBs in the league from what I have seen. Season just starts all over again down in Auburn. Leage just may be too balanced for the SECs own good this year.

  12. Most interesting comments, esp. regarding the RBs. Personally, I don’t think BP is holding anything back. I think we’ve got offensive weaknesses that may kill us during the remainder of the schedule.

    For some reason, our offense seems unable to adjust and rev it up a notch in the second half, like Bama did. We don’t appear to have a second gear. I wonder why we’re not using the other QBs for some different looks or to get them some experience for next year. Didn’t BP promise B. Mitchell two series a game? Maybe we’ll see him unveiled against Auburn.

    Many, many props to our defense. They players and staff committed to improvement during the off-season and, so far, they are playing lights-out, smash-mouth Hog ball. Guys, you’re doin’ us proud!!!

  13. Dyeinghog says:

    Yea I am not convinced that BP is holding back anymore. One other thing I want to add about the Running backs that I noticed are the Luigi feet. I have seen BG do it often when we are not inside the 20 he will stutter step instead of just hitting the hole which allows the hole to close. I think BP has the HDN syndrome where he is trying to sit on a lead instead of put teams away. We need to come out in the 4th quarter slinging it like it was the first. Teams are noticing how reserved he is in the fourth trying to force the run they are stacking the box and getting back in games against us we need to air it out untill they move their defenders back and then run.