Southwest Classic Trophies Are For Closers: Reviewing Hogs 42 / Aggies 38

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: (L-R) DeQuinta Jones #92, Travis Swanson #64 and Grant Cook #72 of the Arkansas Razorbacks walk away with the Southwest Classic trophy after beating the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It is Sunday afternoon and I am still very much running yesterday's game through the old mental processor and coming up with "How did we win that game? Wow!" Of course, the answer to that question appears in mental images of Tyler Wilson, Jarius Wright, Dennis Johnson, Ronnie Wingo, and Broderick "Back from the ACL injury" Green on offense as well as that fourth and one stop of the Aggies at the end of the game on the defensive side of the ball. Last week I did a post where I compared the last 42 games of the Petrino era to the last 42 of the Nutt era. My conclusion was that in some not insignificant defensive and offensive stats, we were pretty much the same team. However, stats, as often is the case, don't tell the whole story. Our Hogs in the Petrino era are every bit as tough and never say die as they always have been. They do indeed "Fight, Fight, Fight" as we saw yesterday. I would prefer that they didn't dig themselves such holes in games that they have to try to climb out of, but I am very proud of their never give up approach to the game of football. More importantly, for their sake I hope that attitude carries over in their lives as well. Here are some observations from yesterday, which after the Hogs won I dedicated completely to watching college football! UPDATE: I just changed the title from "Aggie White Towels Are For Fourth Quarter Tears" thinking it might be a bit too cruel and not wanting to invite any bad karma on the Razorbacks for when we face A&M again.

PREGAME THOUGHTS:

* I had the feeling that I our offense would have benefited from having Auburn to play next and save A&M for next week. But the schedule was the schedule, and I think we did benefit from the Aggies dropping their game with OSU in the second half being so near to them in their rear view mirror. The "here we go again" no doubt worked in the Hogs' favor in the second half.

* Wondered if I would see a game on Saturday whose ending was as thrilling at the BYU / Utah State game on Friday night. It turns out I did. It was the Hogs against another set of Aggies. Always on the lookout for signs, I wondered if the Utah State Aggies losing in such a heartbreaking fashion was a sign of what might happen to A&M.

* Who amongst us wasn't sick of seeing Alabama's defense crush us again in all the replays they used to discuss the Tide's upcoming game against Florida? I wondered if Tyler Wilson's body flinched with each replay of him getting stapled to the ground by those big, red, Swingline staplers that Alabama calls defensive linemen.

* Corso said A&M by a field goal and a safety. From what part of his brain did he come up with that one? He also picked the Cornhuskers to beat Wisconsin! And Navy to beat Air Force. Herbie was on target by picking the Hogs and mentioned Tyler Wilson having a big day. Pollack said the Hogs too. And their celebrity guest picker, who must be on the E List of celebs, "The Turtle," needs to go back in his shell with his A&M pick. The nation was divided - 51 percent said A&M.

COMMERCIALS:

* Could Jerry Newman be an Aggie? haha. Who thinks they can drop a car insurance company and then be able to call them back and get some assistance when they are no longer your carrier? Jerry Newman thinks so. Poor, Jerry.

* I am officially in love with the long haired girl from the Heineken commercial. If I drink that beer, will she come busting into my apartment? And without her boyfriend? haha. Oh, now I am thinking like Jerry Newman! 

* I guess in the eyes of Dr. Pepper it is a good thing that I like the taste of their sugar water already, for I am too close to forty to understand a word of that Dr. Pepper commercial.

 

THE VALLEY OF DESPAIR:

* You could call that the first half of the game. As much as the second half became the OSU game again for A&M, the first half had a lot of Hog fans, myself included, thinking of the Alabama game. We couldn't tackle and Tyler Wilson was getting very little protection. A&M's Michael was doing a damn good impression of Trent Richardson.

* And we had up in the booth, Urban Meyer, Professional Defeater of Razorbacks, helping call the game. What made him even more annoying, besides what he got wrong, was he would point out things that you had to agree with. The commentators were saying things like "This Arkansas defense has no energy," and "Arkansas is just a mess" as well as mentioning that the Hogs needed to go back to little league practice drills when it came to tackling.

* Was worried again that Dylan Breeding was going to wear out his punting leg.

* The Aggies' fans were deafening during that first quarter. I had a friend at the game, and he called me afterwards all hoarse from yelling for the Hogs, but you have to give the crowd noise to the Aggies for the first part of the game. The Razorbacks had all the energy of a wet rag to start the game. One soaked in Tuscaloosa pain.

* Of course, we all await the return of Tank Wright and Jake Bequette, but who amongst didn't want to put Broderick Green's doctors on speed dial? haha. That he should reappear and score the game winning touchdown as well as seal the victory with a first down run proves again that things happen in the area of fact that would never pass approval on a fiction editor's desk.

GLIMMERS OF LIGHT / WRIGHT:

* Jarius Wright's record setting day of 13 catches and 281 yards receiving, a pass reception for a touchdown, and a recovered touchdown in the end zone reminded me of Fred Talley's amazing performance against Auburn some years ago. The joke is that Fred Talley is still racking up yards and scoring touchdowns at Jordan-Hare. Now you can say that Jarius Wright is still catching balls and racking up yards at Jerry World. Rarely do you see one player so take a team on his shoulders and carry them when all else seems to be going to pot. Wright was the light from his first touchdown through all that he contributed afterwards. 

* These last two games, I believe, transferred ownership of this team fully from Ryan Mallett to Tyler Wilson. The Hogs' signal caller stood by his team and took a beating in a loss last weekend, and then showed true grit throughout the A&M game for a victory. If anybody on that team had doubts about Tyler Wilson, they don't anymore. 

* A worry, I wondered if this would be a game where the Hogs's comeback punches would always be answered by A&M taking one step further away from us on the scoreboard. That was looking like it would be the case in the first half, but the Hogs's defense rallied in the second half and held A&M to just three points.

* How wasted would you be if you had a drinking game set up on taking shots every time the Hogs false started on offense? I think we as fans went into this year not taking into account how much a difference the turnover in the big guys up front would make to this team. I believe we had five total false starts and a few stupid late hit penalties that I hope get the offenders some extra laps after practice. 

RAZORBACK RESURRECTION: 

* It was 35-17 at the half. They even had OSU's Mike Gundy on at the half to talk about how he brought his OSU team back from 17 points down against A&M. The Hogs would have to put 18 points. The optimist in me said that if OSU could do it, so could the Hogs. The other side of me kept seeing Michael and Gray running right through the middle of our defensive  line, as if we were a bunch of drunk French Impressionists standing guard on the Maginot Line.

  * Were the Aggies making jokes at halftime about how the Hogs showed up for a tackle game thinking it was touch football?

* Don't overlook the importance of Hocker connecting on that first field goal of the second half. It started the ball rolling in the direction we wanted it to go.

* Possible turning point of the game? Sherman decides not to go for it on 4th and one in the second half. I think it sent a note of panic to his team.

* As much as I was disappointed that Greg Childs was not a bigger part of the game, I was excited to see Chris Gragg get some touches. I still long to see Brandon Mitchell contribute in some way on the field, but with as many punches as Tyler is taking, he probably will be held in reserve for possible use as a starter.

* NO turnovers for the Hogs period, thanks to Jarius Wright, and we picked up two ourselves thanks to Gaston and Mitchel. I was worried about a turnover knocking our comeback train off its track during the whole second half. Just one of them, could have been the anvil on the tracks.

* A turnover could have possibly saved the Aggies, but I think more use of Swope, Fuller, and Tannyhill's own legs would have helped them too. Fuller, especially, he towered over our guys, and I am just happy that they didn't go to him more than what they did.

* On the subject of turnovers, weren't we all thinking about the Sugar Bowl when Jarius Wright recovered Hamilton's fumble for six points? It was like the football gods had decided to pay us back for the one we lost in New Orleans to Ohio State. Maybe they'll be so good to pay us back for a victory in a bowl game at the end of the year? Maybe even one in New Orleans.

MIKEY GETS EATEN HIMSELF:

* I've given Broderick Green some grief over the years, calling him the "Broderick Green Experiment" and such. But I have to say I have never been prouder of him as I was in this game. Joe Adams beat a stroke to contribute to his team. And now Broderick Green has beaten an ACL tear to essentially save a lot of the high dreams for this season, at least for another week that is.

* Mikey, that is A&M's Michael, finally got eaten up by a wall of Razorback defenders on the most important A&M offensive play of the game, the 4th and one at the end. In a contest between running game vs. passing game, it was the passing game that prevailed. This time. 

DID YOU NOTICE?

* At the same time that Bobby Petrino's Hogs were mounting a come back victory, Paul Petrino's Illini were doing the same against Northwestern. Paul is Illinois's offensive coordinator. 

* That the Hogs are now 6-3 against the Big 12 since it came into existence. Is it still in existence? haha.

* The Hogs are now 18-17 on ESPN with a chance to improve that record to 19-17 when they play Auburn next week.

* For the record, it was 14 penalties for 112 yards on the Hogs. Yikes.

* Tyler Wilson probably made Ryan Mallett glad that he left for the NFL (all the beatings Tyler has taken) and envious at the same time, for now Tyler owns the passing record for one game at Arkansas, with 510 yards.

* The Razorbacks are still perfect within the redzone. Wouldn't it be nice if we kept that level of perfection up all season long?

* This is now the seventh try that the Aggies have had come up unsuccessful in their attempts to beat an SEC team. My worry is that once they start playing as an SEC team themselves, we'll have trouble beating them!

* However, the Hogs seem to own teams in maroon. Have you noticed that? We beat Missouri State and Troy this year. We have winning records against South Carolina and Mississippi State since joining the conference. If you are in maroon, chances are the Hogs have your number. 

* Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton, and Dennis Johnson have scored more points on the Alabama Defense than anybody this year at just 14 points.

BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: The Hogs needed this one. I know that isn't revelatory, but we didn't want to go play an Auburn team that just got an SEC road victory at 3-2 and a whole lot of doubt on our shoulders. We certainly have more work to do when it comes to stopping a running game, and Michael Dyer, well, how quickly will he get to 100 yards in Fayetteville next week? IF we don't wrap him up and allow him to do a Trent Richardson impersonation, well, very quickly is the answer. After Alabama's domination of Florida last night, my confidence meter in the Hogs making it to Atlanta really hasn't shifted, but my confidence in the Hogs winning all their games between here and Baton Rouge has shifted very much to the optimistic. However, as we saw in this game, that all depends upon this young offensive line giving Tyler Wilson just enough time to throw the ball for we saw how accurate he can be and just enough of a hole for Dennis Johnson to shoot through for a gain. And if I am more confident in these Hogs, they have to be very much more confident in themselves after beating a good A&M team. Now, here is looking forward to a great game next weekend and Tyler Wilson and the rest of the Hogs picking up a victory and plenty of new helmet stickers. Hammer those Tigers! The ballots are in. The Hogs as I write are Number 10 in the AP and Number 12 in the Coaches.

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