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Arkansas Razorbacks 45, UAB Blazers 17: A Respite


Wesley Hitt

This game will be remembered for one thing and one thing only:

Yes, Arkansas lined up to kick a field goal in the first half, but changed the formation to set up 350-lb Sebastian Tretola's instant-legend 6-yard touchdown pass to Alan D'Appollonio. The play quickly went viral and led to Bielema making a recruiting pitch live on the SEC Network to all offensive lineman as he made his way into the locker room at halftime.

That's Coach B. Always. Be. Crootin.

However, while that might be the thing we remember years from now, it won't be the only thing talked about this week. The offense was great (especially in the first half). Defense was really great. But special teams, special teams was more

Special teams should get some attention this week. With the defense doing everything they could to end Arkansas' 8-year streak of games without a shutout, special teams made too many bad plays that killed the chance for a shutout. The first came when new starting punter Toby Baker hit a bad punt out of Arkansas' end zone that was easily returnable and nearly went for a touchdown. It netted 0 yards. The Razorback defense managed to push the Blazers back about 20 yards to force a long field goal, but Ty Long drilled the 47-yard kick for UAB to put them on the board.

The Blazers then returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and both D.J. Dean and Demetrius Wilson attempted to field punts they had no business fielding. Dean's led to a turnover, and Wilson's would have led to a touchdown if the UAB player had been able to fall on the ball in the end zone, but the ball was knocked out of bounds for a touchback.

Those mistakes weren't significant in a game Arkansas led 35-0 at halftime and ended up winning 45-17, but they are emblematic of the careless mistakes the Razorbacks have made in each of their last three losses and must be corrected for Arkansas to have a successful November. Hopefully, some will be corrected immediately as Sam Irwin-Hill went into the game on the next punting opportunity and boomed a 54-yard punt. But the fumbles on punt catches can't happen.

For the most part, Arkansas' main units on offense and defense played very well. Brandon Allen finished 15-24 for 205 yards and two touchdowns. His second half touchdown pass to Jeremy Sprinkle and a deep ball to Drew Morgan on the game's opening drive were a couple of highlights. Jonathan Williams ran for 153 yards and Alex Collins had a solid game with 82 yards on 15 carries. Keon Hatcher was Allen's favorite target, catching 4 passes, most if not all of which were quick slants - a play Arkansas had success with today and was on of Arkansas' touchdown plays in the second half last week vs Georgia.

Damon Mitchell came in the game a couple of times late and ran with the ball both times. He looks like such a great athlete when he's on the field. Hopefully the coaches can find a way to use his talents more regularly.

The defense shut down pretty much everything. Other than a 66-yard drive just before the end of the game when the reserves were in, they weren't letting anything through. Martrell Spaight led the team with 9 tackles (one for loss) and a pass breakup. He won the Crip Hall Award for his efforts. That's the award given to the outstanding senior performance on homecoming. Tevin Mitchel also had an interception.

The Razorbacks played well, but a big victory over UAB won't satisfy anybody. It's nice to end the three-game skid but the Hogs need to win in the SEC and they know that. Bielema said as much in his press conference. They'll get their next opportunity next week in Starkville against what will be the #1-ranked team in the nation in Mississippi State (if they get by Kentucky this afternoon).

Before the season started, a lot of people expected Arkansas to be 4-4 going into November, with those last four game ultimately deciding what kind of season the Hogs would have. The team may not have gotten here exactly in the way they were expected to, but here they are. It's showtime.