Arkansas football: Briles must get the ball to playmakers
In 2021, Coach Briles did exactly what I mentioned earlier – he got the ball to his best playmakers. The number one rushing attack in the Power 5 was spearheaded by KJ Jefferson and Dominique Johnson. Our passing scheme as a whole was to get the ball to Treylon Burks (as it should have been), which now leads us to the reason we seem to be struggling a bit in 2022.
The main question is, who are the playmakers that you want to have the ball?
Personally, I would say Jefferson on the ground, Rocket Sanders, Matt Landers, Ketron Jackson, Jadon Haselwood, and Malik Hornsby(???), maybe.
The Arkansas football scheme is still the same as last season, but the real problem, as I see it, is that when we get in a clear vertical passing situation, there is no Burks. It wasn’t the case of Burks being the best option in our passing game, he was our passing game. He made plays that saved us from bad situations multiple times, plays that the average receiver cannot make.
We then recruit Matt Landers and Jadon Haselwood, both of who are proven, athletic wide receivers. But it just hasn’t worked out as expected. None of the receivers are the Burks, go-up-and-get-it type of guys (which is a large part of the offensive scheme).
Personally, I believe Arkansas football wanted the scheme to remain unchanged, so they went out and recruited two players from the portal that they thought could replace Burks’ productivity. It seemed to have worked in spring ball. Unfortunately, we have since learned that our wide receivers beating our defensive backs in spring ball and fall camp is not as impressive as maybe thought.
Our rushing attack is fine, but we have become one-dimensional because our vertical passing scheme is largely based on go routes and jump balls, and we do not have that guy who can go up and get it on 3rd & 12 as Burks could.
Not to mention, this season, when we have attempted to throw our intermediate passing game, Jefferson has struggled with throwing an accurate ball (and there have been some dropped passes).
This severely limits the offense because what will a defense do in a situation where the offense can’t complete vertical or intermediate passes?
They will likely play press man, load the box, force our receivers to win one-on-one matchups, and force our quarterback to throw receivers open. That’s what I would do.