Brought to you again this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the best fat guy touchdown pass since the dime yours truly dropped as all-time quarterback in the final play of the 2011 BVC Family Turkey Day Bowl. While I maintain that my safety-splitting laser was more impressive, I will concede that Mr. Tretola didn't have the benefit of throwing a Nerf ball. Way to spin it, Sea Bass.
So, let's tackle the big question. Was the play a wasted one given that Arkansas already had a three touchdown lead against a team incapable of coming back from that type of deficit? Would it have been better off saved for one of the remaining games?
No. Lining up a guard that goes 350 in the shotgun and having him throw to your snapper is not a play you can call in any meaningful situation against a meaningful opponent. Without even getting into why it likely isn't successful against a better team, it's just such an outrageous play involving multiple players asked to do things that they've never done before that the backlash Bert would receive from calling it in a close game over the last four games effectively eliminates it as a possibility. Risk analysis. Don't hate the player, hate the game. We (fans of college football in general, not just Hog fans) created the mess by funding the outrageous coaching salaries and our subsequent expectation of accountability to US, the fans. BECAUSE WE'RE CRAZY, Y'ALL. And more than that, we revel in our craziness.
Bert took a sleepy, nondescript 11:00 am blowout against a nondescript opponent and found a way to turn it into a 12-hour recruiting pitch specifically geared toward what he builds his team around. Wasted play my ass. That said, I'm glad that there was an opportunity to attempt a field goal later in the game, because Lord knows we need the work there.
Speaking of special teams, let's just go ahead and start there. Whew. Boy. Punt return is a dumpster fire, punt coverage is a dumpster fire, and I won't be comfortable during an extra point for the rest of the season, but let's talk about kickoff coverage for a moment.
There is absolutely no reason to continue kicking off in the traditional manner for the rest of the year. Not once. Just scrap it. Just pooch it around the 25 every time. The opposing team will either fair catch it, have an upback return it for a few yards, or let it go out of bounds. So worst case, they get the ball on the 40. That kick also results in a lot of confusion for the receiving team sometimes, so it may even result in a turnover or two. You're really giving up very little for taking a big return off the table. With touchbacks coming out to the 25 now, I don't understand why more teams don't do this.
Offensively, the performance seemed to me to be classically Bertian. Running game did its thing, Brandon Allen did his thing, receivers caught the ball. After Adam Ford's great analysis of Allen passing from under center as opposed to the shotgun, I paid more attention to that and certainly agree that Allen is a better passer from the shotgun. Vision seems better, and the passes look sharper.
I still believe, though, that Arkansas has to have an effective play-action attack from under center in order to take the next step. What I would like to see is less movement asked of Allen after the play fake. So often he is rolled out during play action, and many times he is rolled right into trouble. I want to see more of Allen sticking his foot in the ground a couple of beats after the fake, setting himself, and getting the ball downfield. Bobby Petrino play-action. I think it can be done. I believe.
Defensively, yesterday's game did nothing to change the positive feeling I've had about the Robb Smith hire since earlier in the season. Sound. This defense is sound. They shut down a team they were supposed to shut down, and they did it in a very workmanlike manner. They tackle well. They are becoming pretty damn good in short yardage. They cover well enough, especially the cornerbacks. The middle level was once again led by Martrell Spaight, but Brooks Ellis' presence is still sorely missed. He absolutely has to be back next week to help out with Josh Robinson.
So next week we get Mississippi State in Starkville. #1 Mississippi State. I had my first opportunity of the season yesterday to really sit down and watch the Bulldogs, and while they are legit, I WILL NEVER BE SCARED OF MISSISSIPPI STATE. Brooks Ellis has to get back onto the field and be Brooks Ellis. Safety play has to be better than it has been all season, because they WILL be needed to help with the run, and they WILL be challenged with deep play-action passes. The Hogs should be able to move the ball, but Jim Chaney cannot pee his pants in the second half. Special teams... just don't make me throw things. That's all I ask. It's the #1 team in the country. On the road. But it's still Mississippi State. I WILL NEVER BE SCARED OF MISSISSIPPI STATE.
I'll 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 four-year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.