Same Song, But Nearly A Very Different Verse At The End

The Hogs did indeed bring their same tired song to the Music City of letting the other team land all the punches early and then trying to scramble together a win in the second half. It is a song that Arkansas fans have grown tired of on top of assurances each week from the players and coaches that they've been working on getting out with a faster start. Personally, I am really growing tired of those assurances, and I expect that there aren't too many Hog fans right now who have a lot of faith that the Hogs will have a new song to sing when South Carolina comes to Fayetteville next Saturday. Like it or not, this seems to be this season's modus operandi. Maybe the later start and the fact that the game is a home game will change things? One can hope, for the Hogs are surely living on borrowed time at the moment. Fortunately for them, it was the Dores who were left in Nashville singing a sad country song of turnovers and a missed field goal. 

PREGAME:

* How did it escape the guys on Gameday that Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt is a battle between my two graduate school alma maters? haha. And I thought they had a crack research staff! Actually, I don't think I heard them say anything about the game.

* One of the dark places in my college football life is the 2005 loss in Fayetteville to Vanderbilt. I was there when Jay Cutler cut us up in the 4th quarter to pull out a win. Darren McFadden? Yeah, I believe he was riding the bench that game, for Nutt had not yet discovered him! What made it even worse was to go home and have to write a student loan check out to Vanderbilt. Let that being a warning to you if you choose to go to graduate school in the SEC.

* Did you see the Gameday piece where they visited the bars in NYC where college football fans gather? The Arkansas expats in the Big Apple meet at the Mad Hatter Saloon. Seems like that is where the LSU fans would meet, right? They meet at Legends, instead. And shouldn't that be where Big 10 fans gather?

* Very nervous about the Hogs going up against a young quarterback with just one start to his name. The Hogs tend to make these guys look like Heisman candidates. That he is the younger brother of Aaron Rodgers makes me even more nervous.

* Lots of talk all week about how the Hogs need to get out to a fast start and not let this dangerous Vanderbilt team hang around. Well, weren't we all wondering if that talk was going to be all hat and no cattle? Yep.

AESTHETICS:

* It was a gorgeous day, and if life had taken me on a different path and I had stayed in Nashville instead of coming to Oklahoma, I certainly would have been there for the game with what looked like a very pro Arkansas crowd. The Hog calls on kickoffs were loud and clear. Red filled a good portion of the stands. Dave Neal said he was disappointed in the Vandy students for not showing up better for the game. Dave, from my time there, I discovered more than a few of them to be Tennessee fans. They might have been in Knoxville.

* James Franklin, does he not look like one of Gaddafi's sons? But much more effectual as we saw on Saturday. He did indeed squash some Rebels earlier this season.

* I like the anchors on the Dores' helmets. That is what I am talking about in how the helmet sticker should relate to the mascot itself. Forgive me, I guess it is going to take some time for me to get used to the sledgehammers on our helmets. Hey, you can't really say we've been hammering anybody, so maybe they need to all be taken off?

* Vanderbilt's press box looks very much like the island of an aircraft carrier does it not? I am thinking about the way the glass windows are shaped. Surely not by accident, I think.

THE THING WE HAVE TO ENDURE EACH GAME, AKA THE FIRST HALF:

* First piece of big suckage, learning that Greg Childs didn't even travel to Nashville. I was hoping he would be there to exact terrible revenge on the Dores for ending his season last year. Was not to be.

* You could have been seriously drunk before halftime if you had a drinking game where either you took a shot each time Tyler Wilson threw the ball to his right or each time Vanderbilt nearly picked it off.

* Running backs with girl names are just as effective against this poor Razorback defense as running backs with boy names. Stacy and Christine (ATM) both ran all over the Hogs.

* Some ray of a good sign, the 4th and one at midfield that didn't work against Ole Miss worked in this game. Actually, both teams were a perfect two for two on fourth down.

* Glad to see Brandon Mitchell get to come into the game to make the first score. Maybe he needs to be out there in the first half some more as a possible cure to the slow starts?

* I laughed at Vandy's commercial's slogan, "It's good to be Gold." That is if you have enough gold to go where the cost of attendance for undergraduates runs somewhere around $40,000 a year.

* A solemn thought during the first half, we are just not that physical of a team. All finesse, smoke and mirrors. Vandy's first series are TD, TD, PUNT, TD. The Hogs look as dazed and as confused as the kids on that Gulf Shores beach that Frank Broyles is trying to teach how to call the Hogs. So it is no shock that Vandy's fake punt works against the Hogs.

* That was Jarius Wright's seventh touchdown catch of the year, and it couldn't have come at a better time in this game. He disappeared last week against Ole Miss, but he reemerged this week to have 10 catches for 135 yards with a 37 yard long one. He is my offensive player of the game.

* On the subject of explosive offenses, I would compare us to sporadic firecrackers going off just before sunset on July 4th. So far it has been enough to get us wins, but not comfortable ones by any stretch of the imagination. Take Oklahoma State in comparison, they have a carpet bombing, shock and awe, offensive explosion and don't take whole halfs and quarters off.

* Come halftime, the talking suits back at the studio say, "We didn't see this coming." Well, if you had been paying any attention to the Hogs like their fans have, you did see this coming. At the half, Vandy had 236 yards to our 190 yards and was consistently picking up third downs even though they rank near the bottom in third down efficiency.

WHEN THE HOGS DECIDE TO WAKE UP, SORTA, AKA THE SECOND HALF:

* My special teams player of the game is certainly Hocker who was 3/3 with a 50 yarder to boot, haha. In a half where the offense didn't score but two points, you can say Hocker's consistent kicking saved our collective bacon. But I was none too happy with the second half beginning with him drawing a personal foul.

* Last week it was the old go to the bathroom gambit. This week I tried the eat a ham sandwich trick while the Hogs have the ball. I was disappointed at the time that it only gained us three points, but every three point gain turned out to be a gain winner didn't it? 

* Who knew that soon after making a great play on special teams (on a punt return) that Wade would all make us ashamed of him by spearing a guy calling for a fair catch and then getting up and pumping his chest about it. And then, obviously, giving his coach lip as he was escorted off the field like a petulant kid. The coach even had him by the back of his jersey. But did you notice afterwards, the defense seemed to hit a higher level of intensity? Surely our guys can find a better way of getting fired up than having to do so after a teammate gets rightfully ejected. 

* Did anybody ever see Joe Adams lineup in the backfield and run with the ball? He isn't on the stats sheet as a rusher. If he had been, maybe the rushing total wouldn't have been a mere 72 yards on 26 attempts with a 2.8 average. Vandy had 222 yards on 42 attempts with a 5.3 average in comparison.

* Dennis Johnson gave Vanderbilt takeaway number twenty for them and put another piece of evidence on tape that he is a fumbler amongst his better attributes of being a hard and fast runner.

* But at the end of the day, it was Stacy's fumble that made all the ESPN highlights and got Arkansas back into the game. Jerry Franklin, you are my defensive player of the game for your heads up scoop and a long run for a score. Jerico Nelson, you would have shared the stage with Jerry if you had cleanly gotten the ball across the goal line on your attempt at a pick six. Sugar Bowl, miss on the endzone scramble for the ball. SWC Classic, we get that one. We miss in Nashville, so are we due to get the next one, right?

* The Ghost of Jay Cutler? Earlier in the game they showed him on the sidelines. Bad Omen, I thought. But in the end, it was the ghost of Houston Nutt from 2006 that just as well could have been standing on the sidelines. Just like our last trip to Nashville, Vandy had a chance to win it in the end with a field goal, but from an even shorter distance. And like in 2006, Vanderbilt failed to get it done when Spears missed a 27 yarder.

*Spears, call up Ben Hartman and Leigh Tiffin for some misery loves company. 

* Houston Nutt Karma: I was thinking about all my smiles and giggles at seeing Nutt's Ole Miss team lose to Vandy earlier this year.

* But should it have come to Vandy losing it in the end more than us winning it? No. Our offense in the Petrino era still has problems with running out the clock to seal a win. And the defense, well, they still like to make it very, very interesting. If Spears had connected, that would have been on a drive that was over eighty yards with a second game starter at the helm.

COMFORT:

* It is still a "W" and the Hogs are 7-1 on the season. The stumble to Baton Rouge continues.

* Number 12, Virginia Tech 14 to 10 over Duke.

* Clemson went on the road and lost to a team they should have beaten.

* The great 2009 Bama team needed two blocked field goals to beat the hapless Vols.

* Highly ranked Stanford went on the road and had to face an overtime to beat USC.

* We are not Wisconsin fans having to live with getting beat by the Hail Mary two weeks in a row.

* It should be a long time before we play Franklin's Dores again. They are off the schedule next year.

UNCOMFORTABLE:

* Will the Hogs ugly win their way out of the Top Ten of the BCS? And do we really have a complaint if they are dropped out for a better looking one loss team?

* The Hogs didn't get much help from Troy, New Mexico, and Texas A&M. They all lost. So did Ole Miss. But we beat Auburn, so that might help us instead of just hurt us in the computers. Auburn will stay in the Top 25.

* Overall, the team seems to be regressing. Tyler Wilson was 27 / 43 (63 percent) for 316 yards and one touchdown. But he made some really bad throws as well that should have been picked off. The running game still looks more like a walking game. The defense, still too much a liability, not a strength. Special teams, believe it or not, the one consistently strong area at the moment, excepting the fake punt and field goal in conference play.

BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS:

Now Petrino has his escape from Nashville to go on his resume just like Nutt had in 2006. It remains to be seen if the Hogs will end up in Atlanta also like the 2006 team. However, the eight ball still says "unlikely" due to our one loss being from Alabama not Southern California. But who can really say that this team deserves to be in Atlanta right now? I can't. Yeah, Alabama didn't have a great first half against Vanderbilt either, but then they didn't depend upon a missed field goal to beat them in the end. South Carolina won a game on the road without Lattimore. They'll believe they can do it again against a team that had to survive Vanderbilt. Tennessee, if they run Poole straight at us, they have a puncher's chance. Plus, they have young quarterbacks, Arkansas's deadly enemy! Mississippi State, they have a good chance of getting the Hogs at another 11 AM kickoff, but I surely hope not! Okay, fellow Hog fans, take your heart medicine and get ready for next week and hopefully a new song in Fayetteville. One that goes Hogs up at the half by . . . hey I would take a field goal at this stage! haha.

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