Brought to you once more by Tito's Vodka, Bob Marley, and Bert's funkified windbreaker. After a week of little discussion of anything other than the future of football games at War Memorial Stadium, I was completely unashamed to be one of those much reviled Little Rockians who tailgates on the golf course and bails on the actual game. It was the first Little Rock game that I have missed in a decade, and I don't feel even a little bit bad about it. Instead of dropping $55 to sit and sweat out Samford, I left our tailgate at 4:30, went home and caught a shower, and enjoyed the stellar pay-per-view production with air conditioning and a cooler full of beer at the ready.
Only one observation from the golf course, and that is an attaboy to the ingenious folks at the tailgate behind mine who rigged an air conditioner out of two styrofoam coolers, a desk fan, a small piece of ducting, and several pounds of dry ice. And duct tape. It. Was. Amazeballs. Fully 15 degrees cooler in their tent than anywhere else on the course. Kudos are definitely in order.
So, on to the game. Doing a recap after watching on television is always difficult for me, because I feel like most everything I can point out is pretty obvious and has been previously discussed, but here are a few takeaways nonetheless.
Brandon Allen obviously did not perform at the level he did last week, and he had to overcome some drops once again, but I still feel good about having our team in his hands. He was not a particularly accurate passer against Samford, but once again refused to make a throw that could hurt his team. He may be starting to show a tendency to lean on Jevontee Herndon a little too much, evidenced by his decision to target a covered Herndon on the flea-flicker run in the third quarter despite Julian Horton being so open he could have walked in for six. More than that, though, the real red flag that was raised to me last night was Allen's twitchy flight mechanism. In the third quarter he stated to feel pressure that wasn't always there, abandoning the pocket to make poor throws instead of staying in to find an open receiver. That is much more unsettling to me than a few errant passes.
I will say that when running IS the correct call, it is refreshing to have a quarterback that can use his feet to help the team. He can get first downs with his legs, and we haven't had that. That may mean the difference between winning or losing a critical game down the road. Ditto for Allen's ability to bootleg and throw accurately on the run. Those first two touchdowns were things of beauty.
Alex Collins is really, really good. All of the descriptors I used last week still apply, and his vision downfield is still getting better. I am not sure he possesses the breakaway speed I've always assumed he would have, but I can deal with that as long as he keeps giving the Hogs 25-yard chunk running plays.
You know that Houston Nutt was watching from New Mexico last night, and you know when Jonathan Williams fumbled, he shook his head and turned to whatever poor bastard he was watching with and said something about three points of pressure. He's right, too. That ball came out way too easily. Other than that, though, it was another solid performance from the sophomore. The way that he turns a two-yard run into a six-yard run is impressive. He is just so good in heavy traffic.
It seemed to me that when we were struggling in the middle portion of the game, Chaney/Bielema went away from what had given them so much previous success. The plays led by a pulling Travis Swanson were replaced with plays led by a pulling Mitch Smothers, and they simply didn't work the same way. Collins two big runs down the stretch were both sprung by Swanson pulling and leading.
Hocker's 53-yarder was good from 63. Dude.
Samford scored to take the lead with 5:09 left in the third. After that point, they ran a grand total of six plays for ten yards. After looking perilously close to a Willy Robinson defense for a terrifying stretch, the Razorbacks began to once more fill gaps, tighten coverage, and anticipate where the ball was going. The receiver screen that the defense finally stopped on third down was, sad to say, a really big play.
Not forcing a single turnover against Samford is a little unsettling, but they played very sound football. Fabian Truss looked like a BCS-caliber running back to me. For all of the inside running he did, Arkansas never seemed to get a solid hit on him. I was very impressed, and will do my best to keep up with how the Bulldogs do in the SoCon this season.
Another few days of teeth-gnashing over the announced 47,000 crowd and the accompanying GSD to go with it, and we can put this game to bed forever and move on to Southern Miss. After being a staunch defender of games in Little Rock and War Memorial for years, I am ready for them to go. A presence in Central Arkansas moving forward would be great, but not at the expense of yet another schism of the fan base. For whatever reason, Hog fans let things get nasty between them far more frequently than fans of other teams. After GSD I, Nolan, Nutt, Pel, and Petrino, I can't handle any more contempt for people I am supposed to be cheering with. I'm just full up.
See y'all next week.
Trent Wooldridge will be that guy with enough bourbon. He loves the S-E-C chant and honks because he hates Texas. He puts honey on his pizza, demands aisle seats, and sees quitting golf as more of a hobby than actually playing golf. Follow @twooldridge and track his quest to transform his three-year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.