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Arkansas vs Alabama: Final Grades

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This team is like a once disgusting caterpillar now turned beautifully, extravagant butterfly struggling to wiggle out of its cocoon during a rainstorm of beer and tears.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

This box score is all kind of screwy after a game that no one could have seen coming. Not only did Brandon Allen throw for almost 100 more yards than Blake Sims, who threw for a paltry 161, but he also chucked the ball 40 times. 40 stinkin' times! I'll say right now that we will never win a game with BA throwing 40 passes. While he didn't play great I can't say he was awful. On the first 2 drives Allen accounted for three-quarters of the offense but the momentum was lost with the ball that Kody Walker fumbled through the end zone.

From that point the first quarter was a mess. The second quarter saw improvement with Arkansas putting a good drive together and scoring a TD. The third even saw the Razorbacks gain a lead over Bama, to whom they lost 104-0 the past two years, on a beautiful passing play to AJ Derby, and a few converted 3rd-and-longs, so that's not too bad. But the fourth quarter was a steaming pile. Allen was not great in this game, and unfortunately it was one where we really needed to see him carry the team.

A tip of the cap to him, though, for making some plays with his feet, like converting that long first down. He was scrambling for his life at times, but I have to say I was impressed to see him turn up field and run against Bama. Guys got guts.

Grade: C+

Running Backs

So Alex Collins really probably should have gone to those workouts, or at least alerted the coaching staff he was taking a test one of those days. Awful numbers posted by Mr. Collins, plus the fumble that led to Alabama's touchdown in the second quarter. Probably the worst game we've seen him play as a Razorback thus far.

Jonathan Williams, however, said "Bama who?" and put up his typical numbers, hitting 83 total yards including a nice 21-yard play. We got to see who Mr. Consistency was on this Hog team. But even Williams had difficulty continuing his 1st half pace int the 2nd half, with only four carries.

Unfortunately this was the game where our strongest attribute ran up against our opponent's strongest attribute. It's hard not to think what could've been with a score this close had we gained just 25 yards more on the ground. But we outrushed Bama, so there's that....

Grade: C+

Receivers

AJ Derby, Keon Hatcher, Hunter Henry; these guys were the real deal on Saturday. The three of them combined for 10 catches and 170 yards. The best moment of the game was clearly Derby's catch and run for a 54-yard touchdown. and the lead.  As a whole I have to say I was happy with how our guys played, but seriously, AJ, when you see a ball get fumbled through the end zone, JUMP ON IT LIKE YOUR BABY'S ABOUT TO ROLL OFF A CLIFF! Not sure if he could've gotten to it, but it was close.

Arkansas still clearly lacks that go-to gamebreaking receiver, though, and it showed.

Grade: B

Offensive Line

Poor, sweet Dan Skipper. Turns over a new leaf and how is he repaid? With a big hands to the face penalty that he didn't commit. Sorry, Dan, you got hosed. Penn Wagers ranks near the Harley Davidson on the list of "Tools that have screwed over the Razorbacks". It's hard to take off the rose-colored glasses when thinking about the Bama defense, so to accurately grade the o-line was tough. I think they did an excellent job as a unit. Few penalties and dumb mistakes. They did their best in pass-protection despite the obvious passing situations. I feel like their run blocking fell down a step, but against Bama's mammoth D-line I can't say they failed. Williams certainly had the space he needed, at least in the 1st half.

Grade: B+

Defensive Line

Prepare yourselves for some defensive love. Our guys played great! This is an Alabama team that may not be as strong as they were in past seasons, but they still command respect. But Arkansas' defensive line stood up and took Blake Sims to the ground on a few occasions. They only rushed for 66 yards. So much for having the best rushing game in the nation. On top of all of that the defense held Amari Cooper to 22 yards on 2 catches. Well let me just say it all starts up front.

Darius Philon brought his Bama grudge to this game and dominated the line, recording 6 tackles, 2 for a loss and a sack. Not to be outdone, Trey Flowers had a great game as well with 8 total tackles, 3 for a loss and sack. Overall the Razorbacks looked hungry and unafraid of an "intimidating" Bama offense. I needs to be repeated: Alabama only scored 14 points.

Grade: A

Linebackers

Spaight and Ellis may be my favorite duo on the team. The two combined for 18 tackles, and Spaight looked like an animal. Every time I looked up he was locked in on the ball carrier and hunting him down. I know it's a cliche, but I can't help but say that I saw some really smart football from Ellis. Multiple times I saw him read the formation, line up, then stuff the ball carrier in the hole. I can't wait to see what he becomes next year. Fingers crossed for Luke Kuechly Jr. It's really too bad he got hurt on the drive when Alabama scored the go-ahead touchdown. The defense was misaligned on the scoring play and you have to wonder if that would have happened if Ellis was on the field.

Grade: A-

Secondary

Big round of applause for these guys. Tired of being the weak link on the team, they've stepped up their game week after week. I'm honestly at the point where I can't put my finger on our weakest position (oh that's right, kicker). Tevin Mitchel brought something with him upon his return because the coverage and tackling have been drastically improved. This game easily could've gotten ugly with the mismatches Bama has at receiver, but with a little help from the line, our guys did a good job in coverage. Even Jared Collins was coming in hot and taking down TJ Yeldon for a loss. Never thought I'd see that.

Still my biggest criticism is our lack of forced turnovers. Mitchel and Alan Turner should've both had interceptions in the first half, and they could have been the difference (particularly Turner's since Alabama scored on that drive a few plays later). You have to make the mistakes costly, and with all the chances Bama gave Arkansas we had absolutely no excuse to lose this game.

Grade: A- (the - for the dropped picks)

Final Thought

Bye week rust, Penn Wagers, missed opportunities, slick ball, whatever you want to blame the loss on doesn't matter at this point. We had multiple chances to take the next step and we couldn't do it. I know how frustrated and proud Bielema must be, but this is starting to get a little out of hand. Arkansas cannot be that team that loses in the fourth quarter. My liver can't take that! But have no fear, though, because I think a win is on its way to Arkansas via the UGA express. Let's make sure to keep perspective though, folks. Even if we lose this weekend (which we won't!) we are still on pace for 6 wins this season. LSU, UAB, and MIZZOU have done nothing to make me think we won't dominate those games. I only hope the dumpster fire that is MIZZOU won't be too hot by the time we meet them in late November.