5 biggest takeaways: Hogs can compete with anyone in SEC
In what looked like a possible upset against the No. 6 ranked Texas A&M Aggies, the Arkansas Razorbacks blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 35-28 in overtime.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from last night’s heartbreaking defeat for the Hogs.
Undisciplined football costs Razorbacks
If there was one area the Hogs’ excelled in, it was discipline. Arkansas had committed just 17 penalties in four games, averaging out to just over four penalties per game. Yesterday’s performance by the Hogs was sloppy as they committed eight penalties for 76 yards, including two penalties that negated touchdowns. The biggest of which came on the first play in the fourth quarter when Jonathan Williams’ 57-yard run was brought back because of a tripping penalty by Dan Skipper. The Hogs would have had the ball at A&M’s one-yard line in prime position to go up 21 points against the Aggies. It appears that penalty really could have cost them the game.
Fourth quarter play-calling didn’t help Arkansas
Arkansas’ offense was clicking on all cylinders for the first three quarters. They seemed to keep A&M’s defense guessing, and usually guessing wrong, as a play-action pass to AJ Derby in the third quarter went all the way for a touchdown because the defense had been sucked in so far. Unfortunately for the Hogs, the offensive playcalling struggled in the fourth quarter and they relied a little too much on the passing game, despite being up 14 points. They weren’t able to drain any significant minutes off the clock and A&M was able to come back with two big touchdown passes to tie the game and eventually win it in overtime.
Arkansas’ secondary is much improved
Yes, I know they gave up two big passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter and eventually the game-winning touchdown in overtime, but the secondary was much improved against Texas A&M. For the majority of the game, Arkansas had limited big plays from the Aggies and kept Kenny Hill largely in check, thanks to some outstanding pressure by Darius Philon and Trey Flowers. They made several big stops throughout the game, including an interception by Carroll Washington and held the Aggies’ offense to just 28 points in regulation (averaged 55.3 points per game coming into the game). For a secondary that many thought would be torched for 40-plus points, they rose to the challenge and played one of the best games of the year.
Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams is top duo in the SEC
Another game, another big time performance from Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. The two finished with 226 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It would have been even bigger numbers if Williams’ 57-yard run wouldn’t have been negated by Dan Skipper’s tripping penalty. Once again, they showcased a punishing, physical running style that’s so tough to stop for any defense as they averaged 6.2 and 5.3 yards per carry, respectively. What’s even more impressive is how often defenses know the run is coming, yet they still can’t stop these two. Based off of this season’s performances, I’d have to put Collins and Williams at the top of SEC running back duos.
Hogs can compete with anyone in SEC
They were regarded as the SEC West bottom feeder, but with another strong performance, it’s clear Arkansas is capable of winning multiple games in this conference. They stayed competitive with arguably the SEC West’s best team and should have upset the Aggies. Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia and Missouri are far from complete teams and Arkansas figures to have a real shot at winning virtually all of those games. Credit Bret Bielema and his coaching staff for getting his guys to progress much farther than anyone originally thought. The Hogs have the toughest schedule remaining of any FBS team, but there’s no question that Arkansas will be competitive in each and every game.