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Arkansas vs Texas A&M: Final Grades

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I'm glad I waited a few days to write this article because it was hard to calm down after this one.

Tom Pennington

Quarterback

While Brandon Allen's completion % wasn't quite at 60% like we needed, I'm confident saying that this was his best game of the season. He looked accurate, his throws had velocity, his deep passes were accurate, he sold the fakes, he did just about everything he could've aside from the QB read option I was screaming for on that last drive before we missed the FG. Seriously, we were pounding it out for 15 yards a carry until the fumbled snap. I've been saying it for weeks, but hopefully now the rest of you believe it too; Brandon Allen can lead this Razorback team. I'd like to use this moment to go ahead and adjust my season prediction to 7 wins.

Grade: A

Running Backs

Another game, another tremendous rushing effort by the Hogs. We all know it's hard to believe Arkansas lost but looking at the rushing stats only strengthens that thought - especially if you could add Jonathan Williams' big 4th quarter run that was called back for the tripping penalty. That was such an epic run, and to see it reduced to a 2-yard run on the stat sheet because of the flag is football tragedy.

Regardless, Alex Collins had the type of game we've come to expect from the SEC's leading rusher. He tacked on almost 140 yards and a TD. Of course there was that beautiful 50 yard run that we're beginning to see frequently.

J-Will played the beast card this game, grinding out 96 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. AGAIN, let's take a moment to think about that big gain he broke late in the game. I hope Aggie fans realize that without intervention they would've lost this game twice over.

And finally, Sam Irwin-Hill with the HUGE fake that went for a 51-yard touchdown (credited as a rush). I think I speak for all of Hogdom when I say I nearly jumped out of my pants on that play. It illustrates perfectly the type of team we are this season, and should be the symbol of our play style for the rest of the year. Listen, in case ya'll forgot, we're expected to be the bottom dwellers of the SEC West. I say we play like the devil may care team that we are and dial up these plays more often. Try flea-flickers, go for it on fourth down, we should do everything in our power to seem unpredictable and terrifying for it.

Grade: A

Receivers

Why do I get the feeling we are about to inherit the Tight End U moniker as well? With the way Arkansas plays, and the three-man group we are bringing in (watch CJ O'Grady, he's going to be a star) our TEs will be best in the nation. A.J. Derby showed up with his delicious 44 yard touchdown off the fake, and we painfully can't forget Hunter Henry had his own before it was called back.

Our receivers did their job. Solid play by a solid group. We still appear to be missing that dynamic wide-out we all thought Keon would become, but there is hope yet. Let me call attention to the third and long catch Jared Cornelius made late in the fourth quarter. Even though that drive resulted in nothing, that big time play is something that makes this Hog team different from years past. Jared may not get a lot of looks, but he seems to be money right now.

Grade: A-

Offensive Line

So much good here, and yet this unit is the one responsible for me having far too many drinks Saturday night. I'm not going to rag on Dan Skipper. He feels bad I'm sure. I love Dan. His play style is the kind of nasty offensive lineman that sets the tone for your offense. You need guys like Dan to provide the emotional backbone for your team. If our O-line doesn't play pissed off they don't gash the D for 5 yards a carry. That being said, Dan, and everyone else on the team, need to be more aware of the game situation. Holding is going to happen. Tripping shouldn't ever! It was a weak call given the location of the play, but it's also inexcusable. Overall, great blocking against a young but dangerous Aggie D, but can't overlook the two big penalties.

Grade: B-

Defensive Line

Our defense looked great for 50 minutes of this game. That needs to be applauded. Of course it starts up front, and Darius Philon and Trey Flowers made sure of that. Darius had 7 total tackles as a DT. THAT is one hell of a performance.

Trey had 4 of his own, but did his best to keep continuous pressure on Kenny Hill (who looked bad the majority of the night I must say). Trey also had 2 pass breakups to his name by the end of the night. Overall our defense had the great, almighty Kenny Hill uncomfortable and knocked around for most of the night. I like the direction this unit is heading.

Grade: B+

Linebackers

At this point, it's getting tough for me. I've had very little criticisms, but the fact is we lost this game. It's tough when your team dominates for 90% of the game only to lose it in the end. The linebackers deserve a lot of credit here. They had great stats, led by Spaight with 13 total tackles, and held arguably the most explosive offense to the tune of 14 points for the first 55 Minutes. Looking back, they never gave up an easy play in that time span. Our defense has been tested by 2 top 6 teams and the improvement they've shown since week 1 is astounding.

Grade: A-

Secondary

I have to begin by lauding this unit. What a performance. Seriously, stand up and take a bow. I believe I saw the most complete game from this unit, and aside from just two mistakes, this group was awesome. It sucks that the final score overshadows a stellar performance, but treating this group like that last drive wasn't a touchdown shows a completely different secondary from just a couple weeks ago. They had 5 pass breakups and notched an interception while covering elite wide receivers. I saw a physical game by Rohan Gaines and DJ Dean that made the Aggies look soft. It's not every day that our offense is more physical than an opponent but it felt good.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

I hope that the Razorbacks use these next two weeks to get their heads right. Eliminate mistakes and the wins will start rolling in. Alabama is obviously going to be a tremendously difficult test and could very possibly take the wind out of their sails if the Hogs don't regroup. Hopefully, the players will be angry and looking for revenge regardless of the name on the jersey. No more moral victories at this point, this team can win and should expect it. Look for the Hogs to raise hell against the Crimson Tide. You've got 2 weeks boys, make them count!