Rapid reaction: Toledo stuns Arkansas
Here are some quick thoughts on Arkansas’ 16-12 loss to Toledo in the Razorbacks’ second game of the season on Saturday:
What it means: Shock. The Razorbacks weren’t expecting a perfect season by any means, but nobody expected the loss to come Week 2 to Toledo. Arkansas is thankful they have one more non-conference game next week before they have to meet SEC opponents.
What I liked: Not only did Brandon Allen’s passing ability look strong, but so did his decision making. He had 412 passing yards, with many completions of more than 10 yards and several completions of more than 20. Bielema always coaches rush-heavy offenses, so getting a chance to truly see Allen’s arm was refreshing. It also may have silenced those who still questioned his effectiveness as a passer. During the third quarter, as Arkansas tried to put together some sort of scoring drive as they trailed by 9, it was clear Allen took the time to read Toledo’s defense every play, making multiple smart, key runs that kept the team moving forward.
What I didn’t like: Of course, the reason why we got to see Allen throw so much was because Arkansas struggled to get the run game going. Arkansas had only 103 total yards rushing. Alex Collins was held to 54 yards. The player with the second most rushing yards? Brandon Allen.
The touted Arkansas defense also looked porous, first against the pass but then also against the run as the game wore on. They allowed huge passes straight down the middle of the field right from the beginning. Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely completed 17-yarders, 27-yarders, 32-yarders all in the first half. All three Toledo drives in the first quarter moved easily into Arkansas territory. Later, Toledo was also able to break away for a run of more than 20 yards. The quick pace of the Rockets offense never allowed the Razorbacks to fully catch their breath.
Who’s the man: Toledo QB Phillip Ely was a major reason why Toledo’s offense outplayed the Arkansas defense. He went 21 of 38 for 237 yards and 1 touchdown. He connected with his receivers for big pass after big pass.
Key play: In Arkansas’ second offensive drive of the third quarter, the Razorbacks had made it to the red zone and were finally picking up some momentum. However, the scoring opportunity was foiled when Allen was intercepted in the end zone by DeJuan Rogers.
What’s next: Texas Tech is traveling to Arkansas next week. Before this Saturday, that wouldn’t have been a concern, but now the Razorbacks have a lot to reevaluate. Kliff Kingsbury, the Texas Tech head coach, is known for running one of the most up-tempo offenses in the country. Arkansas struggled against Toledo’s pace, so those struggles could very much continue next week.