Two good things happened on Saturday related to Arkansas football: first, no one got hurt in the game; and second, four teams ranked ahead of Arkansas in the AP poll lost, allowing the Hogs to move to 16th for this week.
There was also a football game. Arkansas beat Alcorn State 52-10 in a game that, from an advanced stats perspective, doesn’t really tell us anything. Allowing 313 yards of offense to a bottom-tier FCS school is bad, but then again, Alcorn State had just 12 yards of offense in the first quarter as Arkansas took a 24-0 lead. The Razorbacks really coasted after the first period.
I did track some offensive splits, if only to make one interesting observation. I stopped counting all stats after Cody Hollister’s touchdown run made it 38-7 late in the third quarter, because that’s the point where I physically left the game and it seemed like a good point to declare it junk time.
These numbers indicate the degree to which Arkansas was toying with its prey. The Hogs mostly kept things vanilla, enjoying tremendous first-down success but not really showing its hand after first down.
Devwah Whaley continues to impress. I noted after the Texas State game that his higher line-yards per carry average over Rawleigh Williams was a positive sign. Against Texas A&M, he had a higher success rate and line-yards per carry. And on Saturday, he forced a virtual tie in line-yards per carry and had a ridiculous success rate. He’s going to be good, y’all.
Another good sign, perhaps indicative of the vanilla game plan: zero carries for Austin Allen. He wasn’t sacked (he was hardly pressured) and wasn’t asked to do too much.
Passing numbers remain steady. Drew Morgan has handled the return of Keon Hatcher this season really well. He’s thriving as a “volume receiver” - catching lots of screens and short passes - and completing the deeper threats. Jared Cornelius was fantastic in place of Hatcher. The Hogs got quality reps for Deon Stewart (one catch, 13 yards) and La’Michael Pettway (10-yard touchdown reception). Get used to these guys; they’ll join Cornelius as the top receivers next season.
Allen stayed in the game way too long. That seems to be a thing with Bret Bielema. My guess is that in a blowout situation, the coaches favor reps for skill position players (running backs and receivers) over quarterbacks. That explains why Allen stayed in for two drives with all backups at receiver and running back: having the starting quarterback in there maintains continuity, giving more value to the other players’ reps. Sure enough, shortly after backup Ty Storey entered the game, he fumbled a snap, costing the offense more plays. Obviously, it could be a concern if Allen gets hurt later on this year and Storey has to take over with almost no game snaps under his belt, but my guess is that Bielema either 1) is willing to take that risk, or 2) doesn’t think late-game snaps against Alcorn State will actually benefit him in the long-run.
Up next: the Hogs try to snap a 10-game losing streak to Alabama.