In the middle of the off-season what else can we do but look optimistically toward the next fall? Going 0-8 in the SEC last year didn't give many reasons for positive expectations, but looking closer there were a few small hints at what this team can be on offense. Several times last season we caught a view of a small spark of a successful drive only to be stamped out by the harsh fortunes of turnovers, defensive miscues or untimely injuries.
"Where we are at as a program right now we have to be opportunistic and create some first downs and some bonus possessions. We are 50/50 on that stuff... its very frustrating." Bret Bielema 11/2/13 Auburn Post Game Press Conference
That pretty much summed up the offense last season. Jim Chaney as the play caller had to implement as many ways to outscheme as he could in 2013. They had to take chances on reverses, HB passes, deep balls that are 50/50 at best, and, tragically, the occasional fake punt.
However, among all this there were examples of drives where everything worked smoothly - both the rushing game and passing game clicked together.
I've compiled what I think are the top 3 drives of 2013 by the Hogs and wanted to break down exactly what they did correctly.
Here's number 3: Arkansas refused to let highly-ranked Texas A&M put them away. After the Aggies pulled ahead late in the third quarter, the Razorbacks needed yet another response drive to keep the game close.
Arkansas vs Texas A&M 4:42 3rd Quarter
1st Play: 1st & 10 at ARK 35: Keon Hatcher rush for 9 yards
From the midpoint of the season on a big part of the Arkansas offense was the WR reverse. So much attention was being placed on the inside running game by the defense that the best way to get outside was with this play.
2nd Play: 2nd & 1 at ARK 44: Kiero Small rush for 3 yards for 1st down
Kiero Small out of the Wildcat/Wildhog/Heavy Hog whatever you want to call it, gets enough for the 1st down.
3rd Play: 1st & 10 at ARK 47: Brandon Allen pass incomplete to Javontee Herndon
Chaney calls a deep shot to Herndon where Allen forces into double coverage. Not the best play of this drive, but it forces A&Ms already struggling defense to play deeper coverage.
4th Play: 2nd & 10 at ARK 47: Brandon Allen pass complete to Hatcher for 15 yards, 1st Down
5th Play, 6th, 7th Plays: Pass Interference against A&M, Alex Collins rush for 2 yards, Collins rush again for 2 yards
Hunter Henry is able to draw a pass interference penalty off of a play action pass down the sideline. After the penalty Collins is given two consecutive runs inside the tackles with only short gains.
8th Play: 3rd & 6 at the Texas A&M 19: Brandon Allen pass complete to Jonathan Williams for a 19 yard touchdown
Arkansas lines up in an offset I with Hunter Henry at TE to the short side and the two WRs stacked tight on the hash mark to the wide side. Texas A&M sends a blitz off the corner which leaves no one to cover the back on the swing route.
Williams makes some impressive moves and manages to get in the End Zone, bringing Arkansas within 5 points. The extra pass protection from FB Kiero Small and Henry gave Brandon Allen plenty of time to find Williams and give him the opportunity to make a big play.
Texas A&M's poor tackling and defense as a whole were on exhibit for this drive but it was a good example of quality play calling and good decision making at the QB position. Brandon Allen was able to march down the field with the help of some playmakers out in the open. In 2014 a few drives like this one will be needed to win.
Check back on Wednesday for Drive #2 of the Top Drives of 2013 (There were obviously other successful drives but it takes a lot of work to break down more than that number!)
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