Upon Further Review: Arkansas' sneaky play-action fools Texas A&M defense
Arkansas may have lost this past weekend’s game against Texas A&M, but for the majority of the game, the Razorbacks’ offense was clicking with a balanced mix of running and passing.
Perhaps the best play by the Hogs’ offense all game came in the third quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass that put the Razorbacks up 14 points on the Aggies.
Here’s the play:
The Arkansas offense had a number of outstanding plays against the Aggies, but it’s AJ Derby’s 44-yard touchdown reception that sticks out for a few reasons:
- Play action continues to be Hogs’ X-factor – As great as the running game has been for Arkansas this season, it’s been the play action pass that has been a huge factor as well. Quarterback Brandon Allen may not have the accolades of other SEC quarterbacks, but he runs the play action about as well as anybody in the country. Allen not only fakes the handoff to Alex Collins, but he slides the ball behind his side every so slightly and hides it, which deceives the defense even more. And it works. The Texas A&M defense sucks in to take down the would-be runner, giving Allen all of the time in the pocket to find a wide open AJ Derby downfield for the score.
- It’s a play like this where Arkansas’ offense is at its best – There’s no question that Arkansas is playing its best football when it can mix a downfield passing threat with a dominant running attack. The Hogs were able to utilize both aspects throughout the first three quarters, which was a big reason why they were able to put up 28 points on an athletic Aggies defense. Successful play action plays is one of the best ways to keep defenses honest and most times, defenses can’t afford to give any extra yardage to Hogs’ running backs, which plays right into the hands of the Razorbacks.
- AJ Derby keeps improving – One of the most intriguing Arkansas players this season has been quarterback-turned-tight end AJ Derby. He was Brandon Allen’s backup quarterback last season, but head coach Bret Bielema saw a brighter future for him on this teams as a tight end. At 6-foot-5, 255-pounds, Derby is a big target and he’s already shown flashes of being one of the team’s more reliable receivers. A play like this from Derby is certainly an encouraging sign for Razorback fans. Not only does he sell the block down the field, but he exhibits some great route running ability and gets separation from his man to make the easy catch and run for a score. If Derby keeps progressing with his catching, he’ll be a tough matchup for opposing defenses because of his size and athletic ability.