Another tough loss for Arkansas, and another step in the process of rebuilding a program. Bret Bielema said that his team will have to learn to crawl, before they can walk, and walk before they can run. He optimistically claimed the Razorbacks are in the walking stage currently, but it is painfully obvious that we are closer to having all fours on the ground than standing upright.
Some positives come out of the Auburn game. We learned for a fact Brandon Allen is tough enough to be an SEC QB. The shoulder injury was worse than was reported, his deep throws looked 10x better than they have since he got hurt. Seeing that kind of toughness only builds confidence with players and coaches. Whether he is the starter or not next year Allen earned the respect of his teammates after taking a cleat to the shin. Below in the pic you can see part of the puncture wound.
The rest of the game was a lot like getting stomped in the shin. AJ Derby pick, fumble, onside debacle, and continual smashing of Auburn's run game vs the Arkansas defense was a lot like being kicked in the shin or somewhere a lot higher, over and over again.
Auburn used a limited playbook in the game, possibly to prove a point that his offense is a "traditional" offense. They only threw 9 passes.
The inside zone diagrammed below was good for several long runs of 10-15 yards. The idea was to take advantage of the overagressive nature of the Arkansas linebackers. The H-back and fullback both go to block on the edge of the left side. The outside reciever #18 cracks down in the box on the over-aggressive strong safety which leaves Mason one on one with the cornerback when he cuts back. This was a major part of the gameplan - to take advantage of overpursuit.
Inverted Veer was also a play that the Arkansas defense and Chris Ash had no answer to slow down or stop.
It uses the QB, Marshall, as the dive player forcing the linebackers to step up and fill the A Gaps, while the back is the outside handoff option who holds the defensive end outside. If he crashes down on the QB then the give is to the outside for a big gain.
This last play sums up the problem that the Arkansas Defense has faced all season long. Brooks Ellis is a true freshman playing MLB in the SEC West. Auburn calls its base zone read play to the left side of the formation. Chris Smith executes the first part of the Scrape/Exchange that should stop this play in its tracks and make Auburn's QB pull the ball. Smith crashes inside the tackle forcing the RB Mason to take a wider path outside where a linebacker should be waiting to make the tackle or string it out to the sideline.
Ellis gets blocked by his own man and does not have the quickness to get back outside in time to make the play. His reads were wrong which in turn makes him late to react giving up a long run.
It should look like this. (With the QB and R switched) But as with many plays on both sides of the ball this season what has been drawn up looks nothing like the result on the field. To fix this problem, more experience at linebacker is the only solution. A freshman 5 star MLB would likely make the same mistake trying to run a scrape exchange against this play without many many reps.