This past Saturday Hog fans saw the Arkansas Razorbacks offense struggle against a Texas A&M defense, that they should have dominated.
It was clear from the start of the game that Arkansas, had a few cob webs to shake out.
The offense never did.
That’s not to say that the Ryan Mallett led offense did not do enough to win, however there was a ton of pressure on the defense, and they held strong.
But a bittersweet victory in week six is not what Hog fans wanted.
Many Hog fans were predicting via message boards and twitter, that the Hogs would rout the Aggies, led by their turnover prone quarterback Jerrod Johnson.
While the Razorbacks did come up with four turnovers throughout the game, only one was an interception.
In the first half the Hogs gathered up 317 total yards, which is good, but managed only 125 in the second half.
I have seen a trend develop, and its not good for the Hogs.
In the second half of the Georgia game, the Hogs seemed to think, “We got this one”, and just tried to cruise to the finish.
The same thing occurred two weeks ago in Fayetteville, when the Hogs had then No. 1 Alabama on their heels, and allowed the Crimson Tide to come roaring back for the win.
Don’t get me wrong, Alabama is good, but that day Arkansas was better.
Many Arkansas fans are demanding more respect from the national media, and from the college football world.
The cold hard fact is that if Arkansas struggles to consistently put teams away that they have out played, they will get no respect. Point Blank.
Arkansas’ offense has shown phases of sputtering out of the gate, or if they manage to jump out early, they have shown the trend of pulling their foot off of the throats of opponents and not finishing.
If these trends continue throughout the season, Arkansas will lose again.
The Hogs did manage a bit of a running game, although not the running game the Hogs need.
In the final minutes, Arkansas needs a running game that can pick up first downs and run the clock.
The final two Arkansas drives were three and outs, which led to the Aggies having an opportunity eerily similar to the Georgia game.
One thing that was evident Saturday, Ryan Mallett is not 100%.
You could see it every time he took a hit, and every time he got up.
Going back to the Louisiana-Monroe game, Mallett scrambled and took an awkward hit on his left shoulder, since then he hasn’t been the same.
Ryan has under thrown passes, which should never be an issue with the rocket arm he has, his accuracy has taken a hit as well.
I know, I know, what does his left shoulder have to do with his throwing motion ?
As a quarterback you use your entire body to balance, providing a stable base and a fluid throwing motion, if he has injured his shoulder he will tend to stop his follow through early resulting in sporadic ball placement.
Note: Late in the 3rd quarter Ryan Mallett completely misses both Cobi Hamilton and Joe Adams.
And I’m sure we have all noticed the increased number of interceptions. I certainly hope I am wrong, but based on my experience, I am not.
On a brighter note, the Arkansas Razorbacks do indeed have a defense. This defense is not only improved, they have the potential to be dominant, but for that to happen, the offense will have to produce more and keep the defense off the field.
The Hogs defense has come up with huge sacks in three straight games. the secondary has more interceptions than touchdowns allowed.
Through 5 games this season the defense has given up 75 points and 9 touchdowns compared to last years 141 points and 18 touchdowns through 5 games. For any doubters, using a term from the t.v. show “Mythbusters”, it has gone from plausible, to confirmed that Arkansas’ defense is improved.
But as improved as the Hogs defense is, if Coach Bobby Petrino can’t figure out what has been troubling this offense, the gift that South Carolina gave the Razorbacks will go for naught.
With the Tide losing a game the Hogs are 7 Arkansas wins and one Alabama loss from Atlanta.
But to get there it will take execution by the offense and maintaining the level of play on defense.
Going into Auburn week, Arkansas has proven that mobile quarterbacks are not an issue for the Hogs, going back to last year the Hogs managed to nullify Tim Tebow’s efforts in a controversial loss to then No. 1 Florida.
Cam Newton is a larger version of Tebow, sans the biblical references.
One thing no team has forced Newton to do this year is beat them with his arm, and if the Hogs defense is able to receive adequate rest and the offense is able to attack rather than react, the Arkansas Razorbacks will do just that.
This is a phrase that should be mentioned every week for the remainder of the season: The long road to Atlanta starts and ends with this game.