Some random thoughts after the Razorbacks escaped with a victory on the road over Vanderbilt.
- While it’s frustrating to coaches, players and fans alike that this Razorback team is not playing its best football right now, getting a win on the road in the SEC is always good. Vanderbilt has not defeated a top 10 ranked team at home since 1937. The Hogs were certainly glad to leave Nashville without becoming the answer to that trivia question.
- Kicker Zach Hocker continues to be solid in the clutch. As we all found out the hard way during the 2008-09 seasons, winning close games requires having a field goal kicker that can deliver under pressure. Hocker came through again on a day when his counterpart across the field showed there’s still some “Old Vandy” left under new head coach James Franklin.
- Honorable Mention: At a crucial time late in the fourth quarter when the Hogs’ offense sputtered (see “The Ugly” below), punter Dylan Breeding boomed a 50-yarder to pin the Commodores back to their own 10 yard line. …. We’re still not sure how Tyler Wilson made the game-tying two point conversion pass while being chased and falling backwards. A great play by Wilson and by Jarius Wright making a tough catch in the end zone.
- No excuses should be made for Marquel Wade’s vicious hit on Vanderbilt punt returner Jonathan Krause. Because of how other situations have been handled in the past, we have every confidence that Wade will be punished appropriately by Bobby Petrino. And for those Hog fans upset with the way Wade has been vilified by ESPN and other media, get over it. That’s the “gotcha” news media world we live in today and whether it’s completely fair to him or not, it’s not going to change just because Wade is a player on our team.
- Honorable mention: As has happened far too often this season, Tyler Wilson got hammered in the backfield several times on Saturday. Whether it was several different offensive linemen whiffing on a block or Wilson waiting for a slow developing play to run, the offensive game plan and execution certainly didn’t do enough to account for Vanderbilt’s aggressive blitzing defense.
- While the Hogs continue to have issues finishing off their opponents, there are things they can do better even if they’re incapable of getting a first down. With 4:37 left in the game and a three point lead, the Hogs’ defense did what everyone wants them to do — force a punt after a 3-and-out by the Commodores. So…time to milk some clock, right? Inexplicably, however, the offense began the series running the no-huddle. After rushing for no gain on first down, the Hogs immediately lined up and snapped the ball with 21 SECONDS left on the play clock. After a short completion, a final Vanderbilt timeout and a 1-yard loss by Ronnie Wingo Jr. on third down, the Hogs had “milked” all of 1:34 off the clock.
Of course, we can’t possibly mention everything that was “Good, Bad and Ugly.” What did we leave out?