What a peculiar game for Brandon Allen. In his worst statistical performance of the year, he was able to lead the team to victory. He finished the game with an abysmal 11-24, but for a respectable 219 yards and a touchdown. He did overthrow Hunter Henry open in the end zone - again - but also made some major completions.
It appears that Rawleigh Williams is beginning to spread his wings as he continues to get better each week, this time earning his first 100-yard game. Hhe runs hard and has some good legs under him. More importantly, I think Rawleigh's emergence as the #2 back is the reason why the Hogs came out on top. It's that one-two punch that makes Arkansas so dangerous and it appears we finally have the pieces to play the game that works for us. In addition, Alex Collins continues to play with the team on his back without much national credit. Two touchdowns and 154 yards was his sizable contribution Saturday. His ability to break off big runs on 2nd and 3rd down sealed this game.
Finally, Dominique Reed had the kind of play everyone hoped for. Although it was his only catch of the game, Reed was able to showcase the speed everyone raved about for his 33-yard catch and sprint. More importantly, Drew Morgan had another huge game. For someone that few people expected production from, Morgan has truly stepped up and played well, leading the team with 110 yards. Hunter Henry had a solid performance with 62 yards on three catches, including a key 51-yard reception, but the offense is squandering probably one of our best talents by not giving him the ball more.
Another great performance by a unit that's gaining consistency. The running game was clicking and really couldn't be stopped. The pass protection was strong. They held the defense without a sack again, however the Vols had no trouble getting to Allen, as he was hurried five times. The group wasn't called for any penalties, a major improvement over the disaster against A&M. Sebastian Tretola was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
The defensive line is starting to return to form. They got after the quarterback, recording a sack and 4 QB hurries. More importantly, they were able to set up a devastating run defense. The team recorded seven tackles for loss largely due to the activity of the line. If the line keeps improving this defense is only going to get better. Holding the Vols to 3 second half points was a good start.
After some first half tackling and coverage issues, the linebackers stepped up like the rest of the defense. They were an important factor in turning Tennessee into a one dimensional team. In addition, coverage has really improved over the previous games and the Vols had 16 incompletions as a result. The biggest issue with this group, as well as the defense as a whole, is their lack of splash plays or turnovers. If we can't score a few takeaways expect a lot more games that are tight in the 4th quarter. Kudos to Dre Greenlaw for leading the team in tackles with 10.
A big part of Arkansas' success on defense is the secondary. They aren't afraid to matchup, play man, or come up to the line and make a tackle. Jared Collins forced the key fumble Arkansas recovered when the Vols were in the red zone. Santos Ramirez had seven solo tackles. Henre' Toliver had five solo tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. 4 of the 7 leading tacklers on the team were secondary players. With the running game shut down, the target was on their backs, but they still had a solid game. After the 1st quarter our defense played tremendously. Erase the kick return and Tennessee only scores 13 points.
This was bad. No way around it. The Razorbacks are really fortunate this didn't cost Arkansas the game. The Vols only scored two touchdowns but one was on the game's opening kickoff. Berry also had a punt return touchdown called back for a penalty on the Vols, which may have saved the game for the Hogs. Cole Hedlund did make one field goal, but another chip shot was blocked (Bielema blamed the holder) and a fake field goal attempt failed. This game probably isn't close if Arkansas' special teams is solid.
The only decent thing was Toby Baker having a solid night.
It was a close one in Knoxville, but I felt a lot more confident than I have all season. Watching the game you could just tell that this team was ready. A quick glance at the remaining schedule, and I believe our bowl game hopes are very much alive.