In the end, it all comes out in the wash.
That was the advice I once received with regards to vending machines stealing my money. An older, wiser person informed me that in the long run, I’ll probably get free stuff from a vending machine at about the same rate as it steals my quarters.
I’ve generally found this to be true. The Coke machine on the first floor where I work has stolen my money exactly once, and returned two Mountain Dews for the price of one exactly once.
On Saturday, the vending machine of football fate, which had been dispensing free
Cokes (sorry, Pepsis) to the Razorback football team at just the write time, finally stole our quarter. The advanced stats have consistently said that Arkansas is lucky, not good, and that Auburn is good. My best guess as to what happened on the field is this: Auburn quickly established itself as the superior team, and the Hogs, who have played eight games in eight weeks including consecutive games against Alabama and Ole Miss, finally ran out of gas in the face of a rested opponent.
The degree of the collapse is staggering, making the game splits pretty much worthless, since we all saw what happened. We’ll keep the numbers short.
Under normal circumstances, much of this game would count as “garbage time”, but I’m leaving it all in to showcase how bad this was.
Texas took 90 rushing attempts to hit 464 yards in 1970 against Arkansas. Auburn needed 49 and a little more than three quarters on Saturday. I guess we all figured that Rice’s 505 rushing yards against Arkansas in 1953 was a record that would stand forever.
I don’t think a defensive coordinator can oversee his defense allowing a rushing performance like that and still expect to keep his job. Texas fired Manny Diaz after BYU did something similar. What makes this even more problematic is that this is a veteran defense, with nine starters back. There is no “next year” for these guys. After this season, the Hogs lose top cover-corner Jared Collins, two-time leading tackler Brooks Ellis, top pass-rusher Deatrich Wise, and top interior lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter. The best player at every level of the defense is leaving. This was the year that Robb Smith and the Hogs defense were supposed to take a step forward, and instead they’ve taken a step back.
How far back? Hopefully, I’ll discuss that in a bye week article, but basically this is probably the worst Arkansas run defense in the modern era. It’s already worse than the 2013 defense under Chris Ash, which was the worst since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992.
Can’t do much without a line
In the preview, I asked the following question:
This raises a key question: was Arkansas’ rushing success against Ole Miss due to the fact that Ole Miss’ defensive line was bad, or that its linebackers were bad? If the answer is line, that’s bad news, because Auburn’s line is at least decent.
Yeah, the answer was line. The Razorbacks’ subpar offensive line was absolutely destroyed at the point of attack. The run game completely fell through, and poor Austin Allen was running for his life. He didn’t get many receivers open, but that really wasn’t the problem. Keon Hatcher played well, but if you can’t block for the run or protect the quarterback, the receivers can’t do much.
Note on the above chart that sacks are counted as passes, as it should be. So on called runs, Arkansas averaged fewer than two yards per carry. Pitiful.
I’ll try to compile a bye-week article discussing the following topics:
- Why going 7-5 (the Hogs’ most-likely final record) could still be good enough to be a big positive in the long run
- How bad Arkansas’ defense actually is, and why it’s so bad
- Preview of the final four opponents (Mizzou lost to Middle Tennessee and Mississippi State lost to Kentucky, so all is not lost)
- (hopefully) Introduction to some new stats that I’ll be using for the rest of this season, and for basketball season
Until then, if you see an Auburn fan, put your head down, walk fast, and don’t make eye contact.