What a weird game. Arkansas hit all their goals on offense, made some big plays, but struggled in the red zone again and came out with a loss. The offense had right at 200 rushing and 200 passing, won the time of possession but some missed plays on both sides of the ball cost them in the end.
This is one of those games that just does not make sense. The rushing attack was improved and Alex Collins had one of his better games in yards after contact (84) but coughed up a senseless fumble late in the game. On top of that the Arkansas defense couldn't stop Texas Tech and was never able to get off the field on 3rd down. Lets take a look at the details.
Five Factors breakdown:
These numbers are from the entire season and pretty well sum up the problem for this team. On offense they are ranked #5 in success rate and have been able to move the ball between the 20s, but the finishing drives inside the 40 is terrible. Same for the defense who is not making stops in the red zone.
This carries over the theme of not being able to convert in ISOPPP. For a team that wants to run the ball and wear teams down, they just have not been able to get that done. 3rd Down S&P+ is just horrendous and is a big part of the struggles on offense, Not being able to get much on 1st down, getting 2nd and long then penalties/ 3rd and long leads to being 120th in this category..
On defense they have the inverse problem, giving up way too much on first down, playing solid on 2nd down situations and not holding on third down.
In the quarter breakdown the offense has shown promise in the first half and faded down the stretch. More of that will result in some tough games in the SEC stretch ahead.
Brandon Allen made all the plays necessary to put this team in position to win, until the terrible underthrown ball to Jeremy Sprinkle under pressure inside the red zone. Drew Morgan came up with a few key catches including a TD, his play so far this season has been a bright spot.
Losing Cornelius from this group is just another set back but will give Edwards and Robinson more targets. Against Texas Tech there were not any drops so the consistency has improved.
Still waiting on Dominique Reed to make his first catch. Off the field issues or not he will be a guy that the Razorbacks need to get some targets his way and convert. Just the threat of running by a defender could have an impact on the entire gameplan if he is able to break a couple playaction deep balls.
Alex Collins was a beast between the tackles in this game and as I said before racked up over 80 of his 170 yards after contact. You could see the renewed focus on straight ahead between the tackles run plays. In this game Dan Enos called runs on over 70% of first down plays and picked up half the yards needed 57% of the time. That is a formula that will win games, but setbacks on the other side of the ball put the Arkansas offense in position to need to score on every possession and that is just not what they are built to do.
Middle Field Coverage, Middle Field Coverage. Every team so far this season has taken as many shots between the hashes as they can. When a team needs a big third and long completion dialing up a 10 yard dig, or a crossing route in front of the linebacker seems to be the best bet. Like Robb Smith said its about putting guys in the right position, and with such a thin linebacker group some changes need to be made in underneath coverage. A possibility would be to go single high safety and play the other down in the box to take away those underneath throws in a 3 deep 4 under look.
Texas Tech had a plan to exploit this by spreading x and z WRs all the way to the sideline like Baylor does and working slot receivers over the middle.
Texas Tech QB Mahommes was 8/8 passing between the hashes for 93 of his 243 yards.
Arkansas had 9 broken tackles on pass plays.
Total Team Tackles
One of the positives from the first three games has been the play of Jeremiah Ledbetter.
We all knew Ellis would be taking over where Spaight left off, but some of the players missing are Khalia Hackett and Taiwan Johnson. These guys will be needed in the coming weeks.
Texas Tech had a solid gameplan, Arkansas stuck to the run and made some big plays but eventually failed to convert. That just isn't what that offense is made to do and more is needed on the defensive side of the ball. It has been a bumpy start to the season in just about every aspect of the game, and until the problems are fixed it will be more of the same. They solved the run game problems against a bad run defense in Texas Tech so maybe that will renew some confidence going forward. Check out the full chart here. 2015 Arkansas Football Charts