The Mighty Mallett Strikes Out (XXX Interceptions)


This, I admit, is going to be part therapy for me. Do a post and maybe some of the anquish will disappear with it. But not all of it, of course. Since we led much of this game and lost it in the fourth quarter (Orpheus, again), this one is going to have a long hurt to it. And that we don't get to play next week with a chance of washing this loss taste out of our mouths with a victory, well, that hurts too. If we had managed to hold in the fourth quarter, then these next two weeks would be football heaven as we would have moved up in the polls and would all around be feeling pretty darn good about ourselves. But, alas, Fayetteville as it has so many times before, turned into Mudville yesterday afternoon. Our Mighty Casey clearly struckout! On to the observations.

* Watched the game in Wichita, Kansas, with an old buddy of mine from high school. The last time I saw him was at our ten year high school reunion where we listened over the radio to the Hogs lose to Tennessee in a rainstorm in Fayetteville in what was a big game that year as well. He is an expat too, and it was good to see a game with him. But I sure hope in the future we can manage to experience a game where the Hogs end up winning in the end. I imagine a lot of reunions  took place over Hog Nation for this game in what became a misery loves company experience.

* Three good signs on the way to Wichita. One, for a few minutes I was able to pickup an Arkansas radio station and heard some of the pre-game chatter from an Arkansas perspective. Music to an expat's ears. Two, I saw a guy at a Dairy Queen in a Georgia shirt, which is not very common in Northern Oklahoma. A reminder of our victory in Athens! Then I saw a stealth bomber of all things, a very strange shape to see in the air. I took this to mean Mallett would go bombs away on the Tide, haha. Should have took it to mean that Mallett's compsure and talent would disappear at key points in the game.

* But Mallett did go bombs away early in the game with success. The first two SEC games of the season the Hogs have made the first touchdown look like a walk in the park. But then it gets oh such much harder for them!

* And like the Georgia game, Alabama answered quickly with a score of their own. And it was in the very fashion that I imagined it would happen. Ingram all the way. One of the annoucers made a good point, I think. Last year the Hogs could focus on the run without the fear of McElroy's passing. They couldn't do that this year. You see, Hogs, that is what happens when you have to go against a balanced offense.

* Are we living in Seinfield's "Bizarro World" possibly? The Hogs were once known as a smash mouth running team that couldn't pass the ball to save its soul. Now we are a sling it around team that can't run the ball worth a flip. McFadden and Jones, like that old Indian Chief from those old commercials, looks at the trash heap that is our running game and turns away with a tear on their cheeks.

* Karma? As a Saints fan who has enjoyed Brett Favre's untimely interceptions of late, did I just get paid back with Mallett's two very untimely interceptions in the fourth quarter as he tried out his own bad Brett Favre impersonation?

* A poster from another website made a Dan Marino comparison which feels very apt right now. He called us a Dan Marino offense. Lots of passing numbers, zero championships. Well, we aren't totally out of the championship hunt, but we took a big step backwards on Saturday.

* Awesome for them, awful for us stat of the week, Alabama hasn't lost an SEC opener in over 18 years now. Wow! History was on their side. And it just seems that that stadium in Fayetteville is rarely on our side, no matter how loud or big the crowd. Big Game + Fayetteville = Usually some horrendous Arkansas defeat. The curse of '69? 

* How different might the game had been if McElroy had had a third interception and it had been in the first quarter when the Hog defender had the pass hit him right in the chest and couldn't catch it? He had a clear shot for the endzone. We would've gone up 14-0 very early in the game. Can't say, really with this team, that we would have held on, but twenty four points wouldn't have beaten us if all else had played out like it did.

* One of the keys that I said for this game was that the Hogs needed to open up everything in the playbook. It might be me, but I didn't really see us do anything all that different, other than throw more interceptions than ever before! Would have liked to have seen more creativity in the play calling, especially on that last drive. When they expected Mallett pass after Mallett pass, why not hit them with a quick run or a reverse, something unexpected? I know I majored in English and Bobby Petrino majored in Football, but the Hogs were just too predictable for my taste.

* Petrino told the team that they would not be playing the role of David on Saturday. They were a Goliath too. Hmm, okay. But maybe more game planning as if we were David? For I think beneath the talk, we really were a David compared to this Alabama team that can run and throw, adjust, overpower you at the line, and just doesn't seem to know how to lose.

* 20-7 in the third quarter. Part of me was thinking, hmm just maybe I was wrong about predicting this as a loss. But a voice still in my head that was pretty loud was saying, "No lead is safe with the Hogs. No lead is safe." And it will never be safe if the offense can't manage to play a whole game when it comes to scoring points. Mallett can put up all the passing yards he wants, but if the offense isn't turning the time and points screws, the other team will always have life against our guys.

* What is worse than watching your team give up a lead with a Hog fan by your side? Watching it with an Alabama fan present! We had one in our party. And insult to injury, she became a Bama fan while living in Colorado because her next door neighbor was a big Bama fan. Geez!

* The name that everyone in Arkansas has on their minds right now in a wistful manner - Dennis Johnson. Though Knile Davis might be emerging, it still looks like Dennis Johnson is the toughest runner we have. With our present group, we managed just 64 yards on the ground in 20 rushes. Pop the bottle the day we have a hundred yard rusher again!

* Though I thought the defense fought hard and basically held up their end of the bargain, the underneath pass is still so much there for opposing teams. Has been for years and years.  And McElroy had all day for the most part to look for it.

* A glimmer of good, Hocker was prefect for the day in field goals and extra-points.

* As I posted about the Georgia game, you can't expect to win SEC games with two minute drills at the end and win very many of them. We did against Georgia, but we were destined to not be able to do that against somebody. And Alabama would be a logical team to expect to not be able to win it in that fashion.

* Third down conversions, two for ten. Enough said.

* Mallett has an Alabama passing TD quota of one. He got it yesterday with a pass to Wingo. He got it last year with a pass to Childs. I would love to see him stay another year and try to surpass that quota, but chances are we've seen the last match of Mallett vs. Alabama. But what will he do if the players go on strike? So why not stay another year, Ryan? Of course, he probably isn't going to know the strike situation until after the 2011 draft.

* SEC East teams didn't help us out yesterday. South Carolina couldn't beat Auburn. They seem to be our mirror in the East. They had too many turnovers late, which cost them a victory from a team that resides in the state of Alabama. They also got a bit more hype than they probably deserved after their win over Georgia. The same thing with us. After Miss. State beat the Athens Dawgs yesterday, our one SEC win and South Carolina's one win isn't looking nearly as impressive.

* UCLA did toss Hog fans everywhere a bone by crushing Texas in Austin, which I am sure will knock Texas out of the top ten when the polls come out. Who saw that one coming? If they did and they placed a bet in Vegas, they have plenty of money to spend this Sunday morning.

* Big Picture Thoughts: We have a lot of tough games ahead of us. It looks like we are either going to live or die with Mallett unless somebody emerges from the backfield or our defense and special teams takes to racking up points. Our goal of Atlanta is still possible. But Alabama will have to lose two and we would have to stay perfect here on out. Right now that looks unlikely on both fronts. I predicted back in May that we would go 10-2 and make a BCS bowl, but I am thinking now Cotton or the Orlando Credit Card Bowl might be our best destinations, even with a 10-2 record. 11-1 might be the only key to a BCS game that isn't the Sugar Bowl. All of which seems disappointing when you know that you have the most talented signal caller that the Hogs have seen in decades on your team. But as he showed on Saturday, he too can strike out.  I said before that seven out of ten times Alabama would win this game. Call this number three. I was so hoping for eight, nine, or ten!

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