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Arkansas vs Texas A&M Final Grades

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We find ourselves in a very familiar place for this football team over the past two seasons. Close games lost in the fourth quarter shouldn't sting this much since we've experienced this a healthy number of times, but dammit if it still doesn't hurt.

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Quarterback

Brandon Allen was more than efficient through the first three quarters despite throwing a questionable pick on a very important drive. It looked like the WR never turned for the ball, but the pass looked high. Call that one a wash. Other than the INT, Allen only missed on 5 passes and recorded the "magic number" in attempts with 25. The loss hurts, but Allen's classic game manager performance wasn't the issue until his late mistakes. This performance could've been enough to win with, but we decided to try and burn 10 minutes in the fourth instead of going for the kill shot. That's not on Allen.

Grade: B

Receivers

Arkansas needed a receiver to step up and Drew Morgan answered. He was far and away the biggest target in the game, hauling in 8 balls for 155 yards and a score. Arkansas needs to find a way to get Hunter Henry more consistently involved, however. He is far too good a player to only give it to him 3 times. Obviously our scheme focused on quick passes and short gains but we need to take more shots downfield.

Grade: B

Running Backs

This was easily the best running performance of the season for our backs. A lot of that has to do with the O Line, but I'll get to them. Alex Collins had a strong game with 151 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He may be the most consistent player on this team. Rawleigh Williams seems to be cresting the hill. After a few games of mediocre stats, it appears he has arrived. In a backup capacity Williams was great. He averaged 5.8 yards and has started to gel with the line. Expect to see this duo continue to put up 200+ yards a game.

Grade: A-

Offensive Line

Well the run blocking was great. As was oft-stated, this unit finally woke up and realized they're bigger than everyone and proved it by leading the way on 241 yards rushing. Despite BA getting sacked twice, they were formidable against some truly stellar Aggie athletes. I was most worried about the DEs coming into this game and they did a good job of protecting Allen from them for the most part. All that being said, the penalties have got to stop. How many times do we have to lose a game because of some dumb penalties before we tighten things up?

Grade: C+

Defensive Line

We started to see a semblance of a pass rush from this unit, but no one has risen to the top. As a result the defense played a decent game. Aside from a few quick scores, the Dline played well against the rush, holding TAMU to only 88 yards. Unfortunately, the Aggies didn't need a strong performance from the running backs to open it up through the air. While the secondary is largely to blame against the outmatched receivers, the pass defense starts up front and the Hogs simply didn't produce enough.

Grade: B-

Linebackers

The linebackers were quiet this game. When the Hogs needed a big play or a big stop they were MIA. Even the consistently strong Brooks Ellis was almost a no-show as he recorded only 2  tackles. The biggest issue is the lack of turnovers this unit and the defense as a whole produced. It's hard to win hard-nosed football if you don't win the turnover battle. While the defense managed the hold on several occasions, when the Aggies needed to move the ball, the defense was on its heels.

Grade: C

Secondary

Arguably, the only highlight of the secondary was Santos Ramirez's play. He came in as a backup and recorded 3 tackles and 2 pass breakups. He brought an energy that the coaches must've noticed as they promoted him to starter for this week's matchup with Tennessee. Aside from him, the rest of the secondary were reactive. Play calls were uninspired and the defenders could only watch and tackle as the Aggies threw the ball at will. What's worse is that the completions were almost always long plays. Kyle Allen passed for 358 yards on only 21 completions. That's almost 130 yards more than BA on only one more completion. Even on obvious passing downs this group couldn't seem to make a play.

Grade: C-

Special Teams

DJ Dean had a tremendous punt return for 45 yards but was downed at the 25 with no time remaining in the half. Had there been time to attempt a FG this would've been a play of the game. Toby Baker had a solid day punting. He stopped two inside the 20 and only one sailed on him for a touchback. No field goals were attempted by the Hogs.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

This was certainly not the game I was expecting. The performance was so much better than what we saw against Texas Tech and Toledo (who barely lost to TCU and blew out Ark St respectively) the past couple of weeks. As a Hog fan I think we have to have a little hope after this one. I realize how ridiculous it is to say that after we lost a game to TAMU, in OT, in 2015, but while we aren't where we thought we'd be this summer, we're certainly in better position than we were on September 14. With a game coming against the only SEC team that's a bigger disappointment than us, we may actually be able to get a win and turn this disaster of a season towards a 6-win campaign.