January 18, 2019

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — Rutgers

Some random thoughts after the Razorbacks’ tough loss on the road to Rutgers.

The Good

  • Despite the loss, you have to give credit to the Hog defense for playing their best game of the season.  A blocked field goal (Dan Skipper), securing three turnovers (one returned for a TD by Tevin Mitchel), posting five sacks (two by Darius Philon), and holding Rutgers to 54 rushing yards and 17 points makes you feel good about where that unit is heading.
  • In many ways, quarterback A.J. Derby played well enough to win the game.  Derby was 14-26 for 137 yards, including a 17-yard third quarter TD to Javontee Herndon.  Where the problems were evident, though, were on the seemingly endless number of third-and-long situations.  The Hogs were 3-of-14 on third downs (21.4 percent) for the day.
  • Forced to try and create some offense, Bret Bielema pulled out all the stops to give the Hogs a chance.  Punter Sam Irwin-Hill and deep snapper Alan D’Appollonio executed a perfect 24-yard pass and catch on a first quarter fake punt.  Later, running back Jonathan Williams tossed the first TD pass of his career — a 21-yarder to freshman tight end Hunter Henry (his first TD as a Razorback) — on a halfback pass to put the Hogs up 24-7.

The Bad

  • We hate ‘rugby-style’ punts and Saturday proved one of the reasons why.  Irwin-Hill’s low line drive kick went to the left side of the field when his coverage team was expecting a kick to the right.  That led to an easy, momentum-changing 58-yard punt return TD by Rutgers’ Janarion Grant.  Meanwhile, senior kicker/punter Zach Hocker, who had boomed a 77-yard punt earlier in the day, stood on the sideline and watched.
  • Linebacker Jarrett Lake’s late hit out of bounds penalty in the final minutes of the first half was very bad.  The penalty turned what would have been a third-and-22 situation into a first down and, eventually, a Rutgers touchdown.  The play marred an otherwise good performance from Lake, who posted 10 tackles and recovered a first quarter fumble.  Gotta be smarter than that.
  • In what will likely be a theme all year, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova exposed the Hogs’ linebackers and defensive backs.  The worst was the pass coverage by the linebackers, with Rutgers junior tight end Tyler Kroft torching the Hogs for 133 yards and a TD on six catches.  Kroft came into the game with eight receptions and 112 yards…for his entire career.

The Ugly

  • There is nothing worse than playing ‘not to lose,’ and that’s what the Hogs did after two quick third quarter TDs made it 24-7.  Granted the Razorback defense was playing good, but the conservative play calling was painful to watch.  The Hogs failed to convert a third down, and punted on their last six possessions.

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

TipsterHog also contributed to this post.


  1. Butch N Baker says:

    Almost all hog fans wanted the old run and grind back. You got it so live with it!

    • Butch, you’re killing me. I take it you didn’t want the “old run and grind”? Trying to be a run oriented offense didn’t lose the game. You may not have read the post above closely. As Beliema said, it’s a process and were early in it. There will be some bumps for sure, but in short time well be happy that we’re able to actually push people around on the football field.

  2. The Good: The sacks, the pick 6 and other turnovers and the blocked FG. The front four are beasty and nothing beyond that. The Bad: poor LB play in pass coverage and run stopping with poor pad levels, the reoccurring CB tackling by the facemask (weekly). the getting blasted up the seam by the TE’s, letting the wr get inside position in the red zone. being out of position repeatedly. playing press coverage on 4 and forever and losing. The Ugly: poor execution in the 4th qrt. playing not to loose. no killer instinct WPS.

  3. Good: What has already been noted.

    Bad: Watching the running game stuffed in the second half by a non-SEC caliber defense. No passing offense when needed in the fourth quarter.

    Ugly: The realization that four weeks hence the record will be 3-5 with some really gruesome results (think Alabama and A& M, not pretty).

  4. Defense Wins Championships says:

    Beat them Aggies! Beat them Aggies! Yes, it is possible! Player penalties turned the game along with the poor punt. I do not care for the soccer punts…too erratic. Experience at QB would have made all the difference.

    • Oh please. I was willing to give BertBall the benefit of the doubt waiting on this game. He accomplished a lot with what he had to work with. But, the O-line and the defense are not SEC ready. Allen may not be back to normal until next year if they rehab him properly. Any action this year will be 80 percent of this strength and accuracy. We had to have that game. And to make matters worse Florida lost their QB for the season. They should have a decent offense by the time we play them.

  5. I wish I could have listened to it on radio! I hate those ESPN announcers. For those of us out of state, it was bad enough that we weren’t winning, but to hear them rub it in really hurt!
    Next time I’m in that situation, I’m just going to watch in silence!
    Lake’s hit was a tad late, but later in the game Rutgers did the exact same thing & it wasn’t called. They pushed after the runner was past the white sideline.
    Wish Coach B had called a time out a little earlier, just to give the team a pep talk, to help them put all of that behind them & hopefully we wouldn’t have had to punt on those last 6 possessions.

  6. NewYorkHogFan says:

    The sky is not falling! Remember tha the coaches only had a week to get Derby ready, and Rutgers loaded up the box and dared him to beat them passing. The only reason we were ahead was because our coaches used some trick plays. Unfortunately, when we got our big lead, the Rutgers coaches did what we were hoping they wouldn’t , they turned Nova loose. Why isn’t the sky falling? Derby will just get better. He doesn’t have the arm that Allen has. But he understands the offense and has confidence. If he plays Saturday, he will be better. This game exposed some difficiencies of the inexperienced linebackers, and the coaches will get that corrected. I think we will get better as the season progresses. Florida’s offense sucks, and now that Driscol is lost for the year, I think we have a chance to surprise them. I also thing South Carolina is beatable. We can’t give up on this team.

    • They will coach these boys up. And, they will get better as the season progresses. I just hoped they might pull a rabbit out of the hat this year but, I now sadly realize there is no rabbit. It’s going to take time. In this case at least one long season.

    • We have to look at our team with eyes wide open. Our secondary is non existent, our line backers are not much better. Our receivers are young and have much work to do. Derby is terrible at the long ball and only just sufficient at the short pass. with him under center SEC defenses will simply continue stacking the box and stuffing our only offensive option, the run.

      i am afraid we are looking at a long road in front of us….but i keep hoping…..

    • The coaches had all fall to prepare Derby. One week, sometime two, is all you ever get to prepare for any one opponent. And Derby is a junior, not a freshman. Looks as tho he is just not ready to play at this level. Hope I’m wrong and that experience raises his game. You’re right that we wouldn’t have been in the game without the trick plays. I think the gimmick plays indicate that Bielema will be more than just a bump and grind coach once he gets the players coached up into his system. As you say, Derby and other players will get better as the season progresses. Unfortunately for us, so will all the other teams we have to play.

  7. We looked good in the first half. That was fun to watch. Watching the second half, both bad and ugly, reminded me so much of my youth and childhood, watching a Frank Broyles coached team. We never pooch punted or punted on third down, but running out the clock in the middle of the third quarter with a ten point lead was Broyles ball at its best.
    I really wanted to believe that we had turned a big corner in the life of Arkansas Football. After the Houston Nutt debacle, the agony of John Pelphry, the hiring of Bobby Petrino, the firing of Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith, it seemed Arkansas fans were exhausted, emotionally drained. We had hit bottom. The Lindsey Lohan of college football was ready for rehab. Low and behold Lindsey had actually completed rehab. It was all coffee and cigarettes. We were the groundhogs.
    But, then, like so many who have tried kick the habit, ditch the drama, we inched back toward the dark side. The windbreaker should have been the first clue.

  8. John Q Public says:

    Being born and raised in Northern NJ, I remember about 6-7 years ago going to Hot Springs to visit my mother, hanging out at Longshots, or Capone’s, and talking to people about RU football being on the rise, and the Big East being better than people thought. No one ever really took me seriously in AR. Now, after SWEEPING the home and home series with Arkansas, and entering the Big 10 next year, I’m guessing I’ll be taken a bit more seriously when I talk football on my next trip…

    P.S. I love that when I am in Arkansas, the only pick-up line I need is “Hi, my name is _____, and I’m from NJ.” Works WELL over half the time…

    • Barely beating the two, probably, worst hog teams in 20 years isn’t an impressive feat.

      • John Q Public says:

        When ALL your school does (and really, all your conference does) is act as a football program, while pretending to be a University of academics, and you can’t beat little Rutgers in two tries, while RU still focuses on academics…believe me, it’s an impressive feat.

  9. Disqus keeps rejecting my comments. Testing one two three.

  10. >Irwin-Hill’s low line drive kick went to the left side of the field when his coverage team was expecting a kick to the right

    Really??? Cause I watched this again… it definitely went left of the right third of the field but in my mind was clearly on the right side of the center section. I realize that it was designed to be clearly in the right third but I don’t think that this kick was as bad as it was made out to be.

    Quit frankly, it was mostly due to just plain poor coverage by the Hogs!