Same story, different game. Brandon Allen played fine for most of the game. That last minute however, is how the game will be remembered. Obviously he forced some throws that weren't ideal, and he was well above his sweet spot of 25 pass attempts (43) with a completion percentage right at 50. The thing we need to remember about Allen is that if we don't want him to cost us the game, it's up to the other 21 people on the field to make some big plays. Maybe it's a result of play-calling, but we lost sight of the kind of game we wanted to play. I don't know why Allen had 44 pass attempts, I thought our rushing attack was pretty effective (they posted 4.3 yards a carry after all). Chalk this one up to another disappointing fourth quarter.
For the first time in weeks we saw the script flip. Jonathan Williams was unable to be maintain his consistency after getting banged up early. However, Alex Collins led the charge with 93 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He also broke free for 42 yards on that long run in the third quarter. Kody Walker also had some nice runs to pick up 19 yards. When you average 4.3 yards against the #1 team in the nation, you can't call that a failure.
Same players here continuing to carve out a name for themselves. Hunter Henry had a huge game with 7 catches and 110 yards. Keon Hatcher posted an equally impressive 7 grabs. BA spread the ball out well as he usually does. The most glaring stat on the sheet however is that TE dynamo, AJ Derby, had a single catch for 6 yards. I don't wanna say that's the reason we lost, but YOU GOTTA FEED DERBY THE ROCK! We're giving the receiving group credit for the tight ends here, but we also have to note Drew Morgan's personal foul and Hatcher's false start. Those 20 yards cost the Hogs significantly. But overall, we got what we've come to expect from this group.
The boys in the trenches played a great game. They broke open holes at times, but the most impressive part of their play was giving Allen just enough time to get the ball out. They allowed only 1 sack against the #1 team in the nation (although he did get hit 15 times). Clearly this game could've been completely different had a few more of those hits were sacks. It didn't translate to a lot of offensive yards (though 401 yards is certainly respectable), but I think they played like a team that truly wanted to upset the big dogs.
No sacks and only 3 quarterback hits is not ok. I know Dak is a different breed, but the #1 team in the nation needs more pressure. The line played well against the run, 4.5 TFL is something to be proud of, but sacks are paramount in a game like this. Trey Flowers is still the man of the line. His seven tackles, two for loss, and two quarterback hurries is still a head above the rest.
Brooks Ellis' return seemed to spark the defense much like Tevin Mitchel's did earlier in the year. Ellis had a good game with 12 total tackles and an interception with a 27 yard return (not his fault the offense couldn't do anything with it). He did have the one missed tackle against Josh Robinson that was ugly, though. But still, his play is something the other guys can rally around. Martrell Spaight was no slouch, either. He led the team with 15 tackles and had a half a tackle for a loss. The linebackers were a big reason why Arkansas held up for so long against the #1 team.
The Secondary was another big reason for Arkansas' success. Alan Turner grabbed an interception on Mississippi State's first drive to set the tone. The group recorded 4 pass break ups. Rohan Gaines was 4th on the team with 7 tackles and Turner was 5th with 5. Aside from that one terrible play, our secondary played an amazing game. This group has come far since being torched by Auburn in week 1.
(Added by Doc) Give Adam McFain credit for coming out and kicking a 36-yard field goal on the game's opening drive. It's disappointing he didn't get a chance to match his 49-yarder from the UAB game when Bielema elected to punt from the 32-yard line. Although, McFain did miss a 42-yard kick later in the game.
Sam Irwin-Hill punted six times (ugh) and four landed inside the 20 with no touchbacks. Solid
In his first game as returner, Jared Cornelius returned two punts (not just fair caught - returned, something Arkansas hasn't seen much of this year) for 11 total yards. That's promising for the future.
The kickoff return unit continues to miss Korliss Marshall. Keon Hatcher returned three kicks for 56 yards. It's exciting that the team expects to have Marshall back for the rest of the year.
Overall, the unit was pretty solid other than the missed field goal. No major mistakes, however, which is an improvement.
Obviously, what made this loss so hard to take was just how close we came. All those possessions in MSU territory with no points is very frustrating. No point in dwelling on this game any longer. Losing in the fourth quarter has become a trend unfortunately, but after a week off let's hope that our team can come up with a plan. The team still has three games, and two in Fayetteville. It's been a rough season, but we might just be able to call it a success if we make a bowl. I still believe in this team, despite having my heart wrenched out and stepped on every Saturday. Come on Hogs! Let's win #5!!