Another weekend of college football has come and gone with yet another loss for the Razorbacks. If you have been reading my articles this year, I’m sure you are expecting me to break down everything the Hogs did wrong, but you’d be wrong. Arkansas may have lost to Alabama this past Saturday, but that defense has won over my heart.
I am sure that there have been plenty of articles written and forum posts ranting about how terrible the offense was this week, so lets just skip all that. The only thing I won’t skip is a simple matter of judgement. If you don’t go for it on 4th and 1 in enemy territory but you do go for it on 4th and 5 in your own, you should be drug tested. I am not one of those people that – had it succeeded -, would have been claiming Bret or Enos as a genius. It was a dumb call.
Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks punter Toby Baker (37) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Shawn Burgess-Becker (27) after a fake punt attempt at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama defeated Arkansas 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
If you are anything like me, this defense has had you worried all year. I saw a Tennessee security guard tackle a fan trying to rush the field that looked better than anything I had seen all year from our arm tackling youth. I knew that the loss of the Razorbacks best talent defensively would be big but I, like most others, didn’t think that it would be that big. After the Bama game, it looks like the Hogs are moving on and have gotten it figured out.
Who actually believed going in to that game that Arkansas would beat the Tide? How many believed they would even be able to hang with them at all? In all honesty, I never would have thought it either. However, for 3 quarters in Tuscaloosa, the 2-3 team that lost to Toledo, beat Alabama.
Oct 10, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) carries against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Going into the game I said that a major key to Arkansas having a good game at all was that the defense must carry over the momentum from the 2nd half of the Tennessee game. There is no doubt that was the case Saturday.
The Razorback defense under Robb Smith held Bama to 3 points until a touchdown at the end of the 3rd quarter, which is the lowest points in a half the Tide had been held to in 4 years. A major improvement was the rush defense. Heisman hopeful Derrick Henry, who has averaged almost 6 yards a carry this season, was held to 3.5 per carry and just 1 touchdown. That is the lowest of the season including the loss to the “land shark” defense with Ole Miss. Henry, who had rushed 4 more carries this past Saturday, also went 127 yards against Ole Miss, while the Hogs held him to 95 total yards.
Jake Coker earned a QBR rating of 91.1 against Georgia and 79.0 against the Rebels. Arkansas, you know the team that lost to Toledo, brought that down to a 49.6. The Hogs knew a big reason Ole Miss had beaten the Tide, was the amount of turnovers including 2 interceptions. Arkansas secondary forced 2 of their own, with an interception each for Santos Ramirez and Josh Lidell. Going into the game Arkansas had only 4 total sacks, however they came out with 2 more against possibly the best offensive line in the country.
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Listening to sports talk here in Arkansas, I was AMAZED to hear a single person call in to say, “the secondary was terrible” and “well, our defense just didn’t look good.” The heart and drive coming from this young squad blew me away. I’m not going to get into that offensive play calling, but I am gonna say that with the defense on the field for 34 minutes, the offense didn’t do much to help them out.
Yeah the Razorbacks lost, but I can’t say how proud I am of the work that Smith has done and how great they played.