Brought to you again this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the rarest of beasts, that fantastic fall Saturday that blends the perfect mixture of pride in your own team's accomplishments and schadenfreude at the misfortune of those you despise.
Arkansas methodically and systematically dismantled what is by all accounts at least a decent team, and certainly a respected program. Not only did Missouri lose to Indiana, but they lost courtesy of a fourth-down bailout flag that was thrown later than a Gary Pinkel last call. Will Muschamp and Florida got doubled up by Alabama. Oh yeah, and LSU got boat raced for three quarters, at home, at night, by Mississippi State, only to miraculously get an opportunity to have their heart stomped on once again at the final whistle. It was a fun day to be a Razorback fan. So stand tall, poke your chest out, and do some internet trolling if you want. We've got a little swag. At least for today.
So what happened yesterday? Arkansas took a team with the longest road winning streak in the nation and beat them in every single facet of the game. They ran more plays. Gained more yards rushing. Gained more yards receiving. Held the ball longer. Had fewer penalties and penalty yards. Forced more turnovers. Converted more third downs. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
215 yards passing. 212 yards rushing. Just like he said he wanted to do. Bert and his team have implemented and carried out their game plan exactly as it has been drawn up for three consecutive games. He preached balance and efficiency at us the entire offseason while we waited to win something. Last night seemed like sort of an Open House to show all the fans that the team has been doing more than playing with Tonka trucks and watching Disney movies. Bert had all of the art projects pinned up on the wall for the parents to see. Look, there's a kickoff return by Korliss Marshall. And here is a defensive touchdown. And see, we HAVE been working hard on the passing game.
Some random, likely very obvious takeaways I left with on a specific play/player level:
The last cut that Korliss Marshall made on the opening kickoff turn was the kind of cut that, in addition to turning a 50-yard return into a 97-yard return, was the kind of cut that separates a really fast guy from a special teams weapon that other teams fear.
After wondering where the dominant Trey Flowers of the past had gone, he shows up, leads the team in tackles, and forces a fumble that is run back for a touchdown. Great to see, especially going into A&M. He'll need to be great in that game for the Hogs to have a chance.
The physicality that has become the identity of the offensive line is spreading to other areas of the team. Big hits last night from Tevin Mitchel, Rohan Gaines, Jeremy Sprinkle (I think?) and others.
Brandon Allen is such an enigma. His short pass on the first third-down attempt was bad all around. Bad decision, bad throw, just bad. After that, he was just what he needed to be. A few forgettable passes, but mostly consistent execution and great use of his legs to buy time and make plays when necessary. And that play-action deep ball was perfect. Hard to argue with his TD/INT ratio as well.
I am really intrigued by the direct snap to Alex Collins. Can you imagine a formation with four tight ends and an H-back? Just snap it to Alex and let him pick his way through the line and down the field. I want to see more of this.
Now the Hogs get to go through the most difficult stretch of their schedule. Texas A&M is pretty terrifying considering the sorry state of the Razorback secondary over the past few seasons, but the likelihood that the Hogs' rushing attack will limit possessions should give them at least a puncher's chance. Time of possession is written off as a meaningless statistic by many now, but it can definitely matter in a game pitting a quick-strike, high flying offense like the Aggies have against a team capable of stringing together multiple six, seven, and eight minute drives together like the Razorbacks can. It should be a hell of a fight. And for the first time in two years, I think our team will go into a huge conference game feeling confident.
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