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Arkansas vs Missouri Box Score Breakdown: The Usual Suspects

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The Hogs came up just short of seven wins. What went wrong?

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"Ran out of gas" is probably the best way to describe Friday night in Columbia. As much as the message boards like to blame the coaches and the quarterback and whatever else, sometimes, it just isn't your day. After two straight emotional wins to get bowl eligible, the entire team looked flat for most of the game. Throw in an injury to Brandon Allen that clearly affected his passing in the second half, a ton of penalties on the offensive line (mostly false starts), and two ridiculous overturns by the replay crew that affected the outcome of the game in a huge way, and you have what happened.

As for Arkansas looking flat, it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. I was worried about it all week; in fact, it was a bigger fear than any matchup on the field. It was a heck of a job by Coach Bielema and the staff to keep motivating this team week after week after week through 13 straight SEC losses. When the breakthrough came against LSU, it would have been easy for this team to be emotionally spent against Ole Miss. Instead, we got another stunning effort from the defense combined with a well-executed quarter of offense, which was all the team needed to roll to a 30-0 win. Having achieved bowl eligibility and then having to go on the road against a team that is significantly less of a natural rival spelled letdown. The great Barry Switzer once said that you can really only get your team up to play at their highest level four or five times a year. The Hogs exceeded that this season, but Mizzou was a fairly flat finish. Now on to the bowl.

Speaking of Mizzou, the Tigers won their second straight SEC East title despite not beating a team with a winning conference record. They drew the two worst teams out of the West and play in the East. They managed to lose 34-0 to Georgia and still win the conference because Georgia slipped up. How? The answer is pretty simple: Mizzou doesn't take anyone's best shot. Think about it. If Florida's players were going to go out and win one last big game for outgoing coach Will Muschamp, which game would they win? Mizzou or the Cocktail Party? You think South Carolina's players had any trouble getting up for Georgia? Georgia carried a target on its back and took everyone's best shot. Mizzou just hung around and was disrespected, but no one played their best game against Mizzou. Georgia took South Carolina and Florida's best shots, and that's what did them in.

Somehow, after winning the SEC East in 2013, Gary Pinkel and the Tigers managed to convince everyone they weren't a threat. It's almost like they lost to Indiana on purpose. Mizzou is like the Keyser Soze of the SEC: "The greatest trick Gary Pinkel ever pulled was convincing the world Mizzou wasn't a threat." We'll see whose best shot Mizzou takes in coming years.

Arkansas Mizzou
35.09% Success Rate 45.57%
33.33% Rushing Success Rate 48.48%
2.93 Line Yards/Carry 2.42
36.67% Passing Success Rate 43.48%
37.50% Pass Downs Success Rate 42.50%
0.00% Sack Rate 4.35%
Own 36.7 Starting Field Position Own 22.2
2 Turnovers 2

For the third straight game, the Hogs dominated the starting field position. Arkansas' offense has a curious inability to struggle when given a short field. The Hogs started three drives in Mizzou territory and punted on two of them. This has been a problem all season. Arkansas' execution is typically awful coming off a turnover or a short field.

Another point to make is against the defense: these guys got roasted. Missouri did run 79 plays - most the defense has seen all season - but the defense gave out for good at about the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter. That's WAY too early. And the "offensive ineptitude in the second half caused them to be on the field too long" excuse doesn't hold water either: the Tigers ran 38 plays in the first half when the offense looked good, and 41 in the second. Throughout the game, the defense couldn't get off the field on third down. Mizzou was 9 of 19 on third down, but got back two of those on fourth down for an effective 11 of 19. The Hogs played a lot of soft coverage - especially after Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt burned the secondary deep - and got short-passed to death. The run defense was the last thing to give out, but by that time the entire D was on its heels. Mizzou posted a ridiculous 56 percent success rate in the second half. Considering how bad Mizzou had been all season (Maty Mauk was completing under 50 percent of his passes in SEC play coming in), that's disappointing for the defense to allow Mauk to bully the secondary around.

Here's a closer look at the Arkansas offense:

BY CALL Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
Rushing 27 131 4.9 33.33%
Passing 30 134 4.5 36.67%
BY DOWN Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
1st Down 25 129 5.2 28.00%
2nd Down 17 69 4.1 41.18%
3rd Down 13 58 4.5 38.46%
4th Down 1 9 9.0 100.00%
Totals 57 265 4.6 35.09%

The Hogs didn't really do anything particularly well. First down was a problem again, as it has been most of the season. The passing numbers faded down the stretch, thanks to Allen's pain shot wearing off. The Hog QB was in obvious pain down the stretch of the game. Would it have been better to take him out? I don't know. By the time it became apparent that he was unable to make even basic throws, the Hogs were down to the final drive and bringing in Austin Allen would have been a move of total desparation. BA was actually moving the offense down the field until the running play with Alex Collins resulted in a "fumble," although my understanding of football is that play ends when the whistle blows, even if Collins did have the ball dislodged.

Here are the rushing splits:

BY DOWN Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
1st Down 16 71 4.4 25.00%
2nd Down 8 27 3.4 37.50%
3rd Down 3 33 11.0 66.67%
4th Down 0 0 -. -
BY HALF Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
1st Half 15 88 5.9 40.00%
2nd Half 12 43 3.6 25.00%
Totals 27 131 4.9 33.33%

Against Power 5 competition, the Hogs were 5-0 when achieving a rushing success rate of 40 percent on first down and 1-6 when failing to. The Razorbacks were especially bad at first down rushing on Friday. Mizzou stiffened up against the run in the second half by moving more men into the box. The Hogs never did find much by way of running room: the Tigers were using run blitzes, which means that nearly every run gained either 0-2 yards or 8+ yards. In the second half, the Hogs had three separate sequences of runs on first and second down leading to a third-and-long. With a hurt quarterback, that isn't going to fly.

Here are the passing figures:

BY DOWN Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
1st Down 9 58 6.4 33.33%
2nd Down 9 42 4.7 44.44%
3rd Down 10 25 2.5 30.00%
4th Down 1 9 9.0 100.00%
BY HALF Plays Yards Yards/Play Success Rt
1st Half 11 78 7.1 54.55%
2nd Half 19 56 2.9 26.32%
Totals 30 134 4.5 36.67%

Allen was on point in the first half, posting an impressive success rate of 54.6 percent. He battled through an injury in the second half, leading to his ineffective finish.

Keys to the game review

Key #1: Hold Maty Mauk to under 6.0 yards per attempt.

STATUS: Failed. Mauk posted a 6.3 ypa for the game, his second-best in SEC play. The Tigers short-passed the Hogs to death and hit a couple of long bombs.

Key #2: Hold Mizzou to under 125 rushing yards, not counting sacks.

STATUS: Failed. The Tigers racked up 176 non-sack rushing yards, the third-most allowed this season by Arkansas. Much of that came after the defense was gassed in the fourth quarter, as Mizzou had just three successful runs in the first half.

Key #3: Go at least +7 in points off turnovers.

STATUS: Failed. The Hogs had two possessions following Mizzou turnovers, both at midfield. Both drives resulted in punts. Converting short fields and turnovers into points has been a major issue all year for this offense.

Key #4: Rush for at least 175 non-sack yards.

STATUS: Failed. The Hogs totaled 155 rushing yards, but that figure includes Sam Irwin-Hill's 23-yard run on a fake punt.

Key #5: Convert at least 7 third downs.

STATUS: Failed. The Hogs were 5 of 14 on third down, although they did get two of those back on fourth down to finish an effective 7 of 14.

Overall, the whole team looked fairly flat. I didn't think the running backs ran very hard, especially Jonathan Williams, who is usually dragging tacklers. Hunter Henry had an uncharacteristic drop, and the line was very undisciplined with all the false starts and holding calls. It sounds like sour grapes, but if this game is last Saturday and the Hogs played like they did against Ole Miss, I'd take Arkansas by a couple touchdowns.