Brandon Allen was a lot of things on Saturday. He played well, he played poorly, he got laid-out, he kept plays alive with his feet, he threw touchdowns and an interception, but the one thing we will remember is that he came through in the clutch. Allen, who everyone had fairly labeled as someone who can't win you a football game, did just that. It can't be denied that on several "do or die" plays in OT, Allen stepped up big. BA finished 19 of 31 with a pick and 3 touchdowns.
Alex Collins continued to shoulder the ground game with another 100-yard performance. Kody Walker saw duty for the first time since breaking his hand and was a huge help in short and goal line situations. He accounted for 2 touchdowns in overtime. We also saw Dominique Reed worked into the ground game, and to great success. Reed is explosive and took a sweep 11 yards to score. The more we get him involved, the better our offense will be. He has game-changing ability. The main knock on this group is that Arkansas amassed only 213 yards on 49 carries against an atrocious Auburn run defense, and Collins had a few too many close calls with fumbles.
Prayers for Rawleigh Williams III who was seriously injured in this game. It appears as though he underwent successful surgery on Sunday and we can only hope he makes a full recovery.
Drew Morgan was an all-star on Saturday. For someone who had a small role coming into this season, Morgan has stepped up to be the #1 WR for a team struggling with injuries. Morgan has amazing skills after the catch and has done most of his damage after breaking a tackle or two. Hunter Henry started strong and was a main target on early drives. The final three quarters and OT only saw Henry targeted a handful of times which is not ok. Henry needs to be as much a focus of our passing game as Collins is to the running game. In addition to Morgan and Henry, Reed made the most of his opportunities, and Alex Collins accumulated 39 yards on 3 catches.
The line had an adequate game. There was solid pass protection (other than the one play in the first half when an Auburn defender went right past Dan Skipper and crushed Allen) but the running game wasn't as dominant as it has been. Collins averaged only 4 yards per carry, below his usual numbers. We're blessed that a mediocre performance from our line is only one sack and 200 yards on the ground.
Boy am I glad we signed Jeremiah Ledbetter! He recorded 6 tackles, a sack, and 2.5 TFLs. He wasn't alone. The group accumulated six tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. This unit has consistently gotten better as the season has gone on. Oh, and Auburn only averaged 3.1 yards per carry.
The big story here was Dre Greenlaw. Greenlaw led the team with 16 tackles, a TFL, and a pass break up, leading to him being named SEC Freshman of the Week. Brooks Ellis continues to have a great season since moving back to the middle linebacker spot. He had nine tackles and a key pass breakup in the first half. Dwayne Eugene also had six tackles.
Far and away our best secondary player was the insane number of drops the Tigers/Wareagles had on Saturday. I counted 5, but there could have been more. While Jared Collins, Rohan Gaines, Josh Liddell and D.J. Dean had solid performances, they were often exposed throughout the game. It seemed like they could throw over the middle at will with nobody near the receiver.
Baker downed all four of his punts inside the 20, which was a huge help in this game. Keeping the field long helped our defense tremendously, and not worrying about shanked punts is relieving. Kick coverage was fine, and Hedlund drilled his only attempt. Nothing to write about is a good thing.
Despite how this season started, the Hogs have really improved. Winning a close game like this was not possible a few games ago. To be where we are after suffering the injuries that we have is miraculous. After seeing what our Razorbacks can do, I fully believe we will be bowl eligible. It wasn't until November last year that our team finally clicked, and with a tune-up game against UT-Martin next week, we should be 4-4 heading into our final stretch. There will be Hog ball in December this year! I believe it.