December 22, 2014

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

Did we really just win that game?  Some random thoughts after the Razorbacks’ crazy comeback win over Texas A&M.

The Good

  • When things looked bleak Saturday, Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright kept the Hogs in the game with record-setting, career performances.  Wilson gutted the middle of the A&M secondary for 510 passing yards and three touchdowns.  Wright’s 13 receptions for 281 yards were both single game school records.
  • Wright especially just would not be denied Saturday.  The captain’s 281 yard performance was the second most in SEC history, and moves him all the way up to third in the Arkansas record books with 2,295 career receiving yards.
  • Great to see Broderick Green return from injury and help lift the Hogs down the stretch.  Green’s two touchdowns, along with Dennis Johnson’s 123 total yards (54 rush, 69 receiving) gave the Hogs some much needed punch out of the backfield.
  • True freshman Tevin Mitchel played solid in relief of injured cornerback Darius Winston.  Mitchel led the team in tackles with 13 and recorded a third quarter fumble recovery to aid the comeback.
  • Honorable Mention:  When they had to rise up and stop the Aggies late, the Razorback defense stuffed Christine Michael for no gain on fourth-and-2 with 1:20 remaining in the game.  D.D. Jones, Byran Jones and Zach Stadther all got great penetration, as linebacker Alonzo Highsmith cleaned it up.  However, that leads us to…

The Bad

  • Pathetic and embarrassing don’t fully describe the defensive performance in the first half.  The Hogs only stop was an interception by Greg Gatson, as the Aggies rolled up 404 total yards, including a staggering 225 yards on the ground (8.7 yards per carry).
  • Why Texas A&M even attempted a pass is beyond us.  We surmise Coach Mike Sherman must have gotten bored after ripping off 8, 10, 12 yards a play.  To average 7.1 yards per carry (54 carries)…and LOSE???  Oh my.  “The stats don’t matter,” said Aggie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.  Guess he’s right.
  • Honorable Mention:  The disturbing trend of injuries continued on Saturday.  Joe Adams (ribs), Darius Winston (knee), and Robert Thomas (leg) all left during the game.  Normal starters Jake Bequette and Isaac Madison dressed, but couldn’t go.

The Ugly

  • You can talk about the missed tackles all you want, but we lost the line of scrimmage badly the entire game.  Tremendously disappointing given that the defensive line was supposed to be the strength of this year’s defense.  Many of the missed tackles were 8-10 yards down the field, after the Aggies had rolled us back.
  • 14 penalties for 112 yards should get you beat most of the time.  Especially disturbing were the four personal foul penalties called on the Hogs for some really stupid plays — all dead ball situations.  The 14 penalties are the fourth most in school history for a single game.  Can’t have this.

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

  • HJ Hog

    For the UGLY: How about the O-line? Tyler Wilson will not survive the season if he keeps getting “planted in the ground” every time he goes back to pass. BTW-Tyler is one TOUGH DUDE! I was apprehensive about him earlier this year, being new to the position, but I am a believer after the last two games. He is a “gamer” to say the least.

    For the GOOD: DJ just won his spot at running back in my opinion. He showed up to play in the second half, as did Green when we got down to the goal line.

  • GolfHog

    Of course we’ve lost two starting defensive ends, so complaining about the D-line needs a bit of qualification but you are both right. SEC battles are won in the trenches most of the time. One of these lines must find itself. Once again Willy saves his job with some pretty effective half time adjustments. I was screaming at the TV for Dennis Johnson in the first quarter. It’s time to name him the starter and move on. A win is a win but it’s hard to say that that was enjoyable.

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net Walking on Sunshine

      Golf, good points on the defensive ends. The freshmen we had out there got burned a time or two, especially letting the quarterback loose on the zone read a couple of times. What was disheartening was the interior d-line – tackle play. I mean Bama didn’t roll us back like that! Very poor performance until the fourth-and-two stand at the end.

      • GolfHog

        No doubt. We looked awful.We got no push at all. It looked like a Junior High game in the first half. Everyone thought we were so good because our offensive line couldn’t make much headway. Turns out both lines are pretty bad, it’s just that the offensive line is worse.

        I think maybe we were reading our press clippings during the non-conference. But, I hope one of the things we just learned was to be ready to play when the whistle blows.

  • Carolina Hog

    Ugly-Every time ESPN decides to show an Arkansas fan in the crowd, they seem to seek out the most morbidly obese person they can locate who either has taken off their shirt for all the world to admire or has their gut hanging out the bottom of their shirt.

  • soupdhog

    A few points need to be made:

    – You don’t throw for 510 yards and get beat at the line of scrimmage. The O line did MUCH better this week than they have in a while. Even though Wilson was getting hit, he had more time to throw. Our RB blocking was much improved as well – thank goodness DJ and B-Rod are back.

    – We’re basically playing with the second team defense, and I doubt the combinations Willy had out there had been rehearsed. When we were getting killed around the edges with our second team ends Willy moved the interior linemen to the ends and we’d get torched in the middle. The real hero defensively is our linebacker play. At least we have some continuity there. And feeling pretty good about T Mitchell and Gaston. The fact that Fuller was a non factor speaks to their great man play on some pretty good receivers.

    The comment above doesn’t totally excuse our play, but I think Willy did a great job with what he had to work with out there after the halftime adjustments.

    We should all be thanking Sherman for this win. The fact that he insisted to run the no huddle and leave 20 seconds on the play clock every down gave us a chance to get the ball more often to catch up. It escapes me why he didn’t run the clock and continue to kill us on the ground. Horrible coaching – but it worked out well for us :).

    • http://www.therazorbackblogger.com/ GonzoHog

      My only guess would be that Sherman evidently thought he was taking advantage of mis-matches and not allowing the Hogs time to adjust and rotate players in effectively.

      Considering they ran for 386 yards, many of those up the gut late in the 3rd qr., hard to complain too much about the phylosiphy. I think he basically went with his best option and failed to get it done.

      Props go to Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright for stepping up. I also thought Dennis Johnson played very well overall.

      The Aggie D was sucking wind early in the 4th qr. They’re a one trick pony IMO,….. come out fast and furious with a lot of OLB/CB blitzes, raise a lot of cain, then fall flat on their faces like someone crashing off an energy drink they drank for breakfast 2 hours earlier.

      I remember how the DE (#94) was barking at our players and getting in their faces everytime they made a good hit, stopped us for a short gain or made another hit on Tyler.

      All he could do in the 4th qr. was stand there with with his hands on his hips, suck a lot of wind and wait for the next play. I thought that was pretty amusing.

  • Roadhog

    Good: Lots of crowd noise on every play. I thought HogFans were louder, tho. More Hogs than Aggies in Dallas!

    We got a lot of calls our way from replay/review. For a change. Yay, SEC refs!

    I never thought Hogs were out of the game, even down 18 at the half, our offense is so prolific. Also I am not emotionally invested in this team yet, they are so rickety at times. Wilson gives a good, mature-sounding interview. He is the real deal.

    No TD for aTm in the second half.

    Breeding kicks it over the moon. Almost 50 yds. per! And coverage team holds ‘em. Field position +.

    The return of B-Rod was an emotional shot of NOx for the team.

    Wingo is still an offensive weapon even if not our best inside runner.

    The win was a nice birthday present for me. Potions to smooth out the ups and downs.

    Bad: We have to keep playin these geeks every year.

    Ugly: A boy named Christine. Another one named something like Oh-watch-ya-coo, who was not a factor in the outcome.

    • T-towner

      Those were Big 12 refs and I thought it showed clearly.

      • Jim Dogg

        I agree. I wonder what the Aggies were getting away with. I saw several obivous holds, such as grabbing the jersey right in front of an official. I’m still waiting for an explanation for the personal foul (late flag) on an unnamed Arkansas player after the Aggie kick return. It apparently was conveniently out of the cameras vision since a replay didn’t show up on the Jumbotron. The Demo-Zette was uniformative and it guessed as to the player charged. The cable screwup didn’t help since the last few minutes were blacked out. My wife and daughter-in-law missed it as did my son’s taping of the game. I thought it was just a Dallas area screwup, but apparently it was total. If our player was in the wrong, fine, but for transparency’s sake it should be cleared up. Remember the late flag in the Florida game that cost the Hogs a victory? I remember the Nebraska-A&M game last year where the Huskers were getting obviously hosed by the Big 12 refs. I chalked it up to league revenge for Nebraska leaving. But now? My advice to SEC teams; don’t play Big 12 teams without either your own refs or supposedly neutral ones. What am I saying? Next year it will be SEC officials. Will it be any better?

        There is poetic justice, aside from Michael Vick being beaten up on the playing field (Is there the equivalent of 15 yard personal foul penalties in dog fighting?). Syracuse kicked a game tying PAT against Toledo. That allowed Syracuse to win in overtime. Problem was that replay showed the phantom PAT did not go through the goal posts – slightly to the left. The officials allowed the PAT to stand and overruled the review. Big East officials. The MAC head office complained bitterly to the Big East office. Hah, Hah. About as effective as the Hogs complaining about the Florida call (by the way where is that official today – anybody know?). The poetic justice? In their game with Rutgers, a Syracuse player was ruled to have fumbled the ball. Problem? Replay showed the Orangeman was down. Overruled again. Rutgers won the game on that call. Moral of stories? Do not, I say do not hire oficials from the rapidly diasppearing Big East Conference.

  • http://razorbloggers.net arkfaninmi

    About time we’re going to DJ @ rb-probably need to use Wingo for passing plays & blocking mainly but DJ even did a great job of blocking. Need to improve running game to give the D more of a breather. Believe our young offensive line contributes alot to QB getting plowed & hope they improve as the season progresses because the wear & tear on Wilson will add up. If we can get more key players like Bequette back that should help us to improve & keep the pressure off the younger guys & help the players stay refreshed. The announcers acted like A&M had alot more fans so interesting comment above. At least they gave a more balanced talk on the teams than the CBS Alabama homers did. Good to see us getting more respect in the polls too.

    • Roadhog

      Arkfaninmi: Re: Crowd noise: Check out the comment by NielsBoar below. The Hogs announcers on radio, Chuck and Keith, pregarme, said there were lots more Hog fans than Aggie fans, so I was listening to that. Scoring that at home i gave the edge to Hogfans, 54.9 to 45.1. If the ESPN bloviators said otherwise they were shuckin ya. Niels, being there in person, renders a much more scientific analysis than I could.

      • Jim Dogg

        I was there. Looked like half and half to me, fanwise. At the A&M end of the field the Aggies student section was exceedinlgy loud. Made it impossible for Hog players to hear signals.

        This was my third year at the game and I will say that this is one of college football’s great events. Cowboy stadium with all it’s amenities. The truly colorful marching Aggie band and ROTC students are very impressive. The Hog band’s marching and the student demonstrations are marvelous. The jumbotron, or whatever it’s called, with its pregame presentations of both schools and the view of the game by said jumbotron cannot be matched anywhwere. Only major bowl games with their outside parades can come close to this. Now that A&M is a part of the SEC this game will now take on greater significance and should attract national attention, ranked teams or otherwise. If you haven’t been, go. The ambience and fan enthusiasm on both sides make this an experience every Hog fan should have. We should give thanks to Jerry Jones for this. In my humble opinion, the games at Fayetteville, the War Memorial tailgating experience and the Southwest classic are the best of all college football worlds during the regular season.

  • Hawg65

    Ugly: When are those defensive ends going to learn that their first job is to contain? Time and time again the defensive end was inside as the QB or RB went outside for a big gain. And the penalties really helped keep A&M moving. That is a coaching issue.

    Amazing: I continue to be VERY impressed with how tough Tyler Wilson is!

  • NielsBoar

    I was at the game. You guys have already mentioned most of the things I noticed.

    What stood out to me the most was the lack of fan support for A&M. Top 10 pre-season, just announced you are changing conferences, excitement should be at levels not seen for the Aggies in 20+ years. And yet, they didn’t come close to filling their allotment for a game in Texas. Heck, between the Core and the A&M students that came, their EZ was packed to capacity, but their sideline was maybe 60% – 70% full. Odd.

    Maybe their old timers are pissed about the conference change? Any Aggie lurkers care to explain?

    • Roadhog

      JimDogg above says he was also at the event live and in person and that fan support was about even. To me it sure sounded as tho Hogfans were louder, and I was paying attention to it at the time, but that perception/cognition could depend upon where the mics were set up for the broadcast. Nothing to argue about; I’m just glad there are lots of Hogfans in Big-D. And that we won. For the third time in a row.

      Strictly speaking, isn’t A&M set to enter the SEC in July 2012? They are not in fact current members of the SEC, as some comments have implied. That’s my take anyhow.

      • http://www.therazorbackblogger.com/ GonzoHog

        It was announced a week or so ago that A&M will officially be a member of the SEC on July 1st of 2012. They are currently still a member of the “Little 10″.

      • NielsBoar

        Road, Jim,

        From my vantage point on the AR side, I could clearly see all of the Aggie side of the field. Their EZ was packed, loud, and rowdy. Their sideline was much less populated.

        From what I could see of our side, it appeared that we clearly outnumbered them. Our side looked at least 90% full to me. But then again, I could not see all of it.

        As far as noise goes, I thought the Aggies were louder for most of the game. The early lead had a lot to do with that. However, fourth quarter, the Hawg fans were deafening. I could not carry a conversation with the person sitting next to me. It was a lot of fun.

      • TOM SISSON

        I AM A DIE HARD AGGIE AND I, FOR ONE, WOULD LOVE TO SEE A&M RESTART THE SWC. AT LEAST WE’D HAVE CHANCE AGAINST RICE AND HOUSTON. 38 OFFENSIVE POINTS SHOULD BE ENOUGH TO BEAT ANY TEAM. BUT IT’S HARD TO WIN WHEN THE D FORGETS TO COME OUT IN THE SECOND HALF, TWICE.

        I KEPT WAITING FOR SOME FOOL TO START SCREAMING “WRECKING CREW”. IF WE EVER DO FIELD A DEFENSE, WE MIGHT GIVE YA’LL A GAME…

      • soupdhog

        Tom, heaven forbid you get your wish. You could go play in Conference USA though.

        I don’t think your problem is that you can’t field a defense, your up tempo agressive style can’t be sustained a full 4 quarters. Your defense dominated both OSU and Arkansas while everyone was fresh. But you kept up that pace the whole game and it’s easy to adjust to particularly when you don’t have depth to keep up with that pace. The screen plays and over the middle killed you guys, as you were either rushing 7 or playing zone or deep man without bumping the slot receiver. Jarius Wright can beat any linebacker in the nation – insisting to play that matchup was stupid.

        IMO, a coaching adjustment is needed to pace the team better and take the time to find better matchups rather than playing video game style.

  • Andrew

    Or maybe, unless you think you know Arkansas’ defensive schemes better than the players, Willy has them shoot the inside on occasion, and chooses to leave the corner, or maybe an OLB to contain the outside? I might be wrong, but I think Willy gets paid half a million per to be a bit more deceiving and creative with his scheming than your average freshman team…

  • GolfHog

    Unless the O-line improves they need to let Brandon Mitchell take every other series. Wilson needs a break before he gets broken.

    • http://www.therazorbackblogger.com/ GonzoHog

      Probably not a bad idea for health issues alone, but not too sure what that would do for offensive continuity though. The O-line needs to keep it coming. I hope they hurry it up a little.

  • Defense Wins Champio

    It is past time to decimate Auburn! Perhaps Wilson will get 600 yards passing.

  • Jim Dogg

    NEWS FLASH: Blue Cross has just canceled Tyler Wilson’s health insurance policy. No other carriers have stepped forward for replacement. Obamare doesn’t have a clause for Wilson. Getting constantly slammed to the turf is not a recognized precondition.

    How long Wilson can keep getting hit and stay healthy is anyone’s guess unless the OL starts to improve. Green and Johnson should be able to take pressure off with a newfound running game.

    Wilson should call Michael Vick and tell him to quit complaining. He’s not getting calls either. And he didn’t do anything to dogs. Advice to Vick should be to learn to complete passes while going into a horizontal position. Send him a copy of that TD in the Bama game. “Do it like Tyler”.

  • tomahog

    The Good

    The hogs were in a deep whole going back to the previous week in Alabama and the 1st half of A&M, they showed a Tremendous amount of character to rally back. There is no quit in this team. I believe that Tyler is the true leader.

    Dennis Johnson is the man! Don’t forget the last time we were in florida. DJ showed the same drive and tenacity. He has the tools.

    Broderick Green-has not impressed me until Saturday. He looked slimmer, faster, and appeared to have more purpose.

    O-line was bad but if DJ and BG can start a running game, Tyler could see some relief soon.

    Bad and Ugly has to Texas A&M. Welcome to the SEC

  • Roadhog

    This is my last comment on this game, but one that has gone unaddressed. In the second half one of the announcers said that Arkansas was “out-formationing” the Aggies, a part of the game the Aggies had won in the first half. If the O-line can’t protect Wilson, Petrino needs to operate out of a run-formation so that the running backs can pick up blitzing backs or penetrating linemen. The empty backfield is part of the reason defenses are getting to Wilson in a hurry. The hogs must learn to run the ball, or at least fake the run on running downs, or Tyler will get terribly banged up and we will lose again before we get to Baton Rouge.