The offense sputtered, the line looked confused, the defense looked like a copy of the one that gave up yard after yard last season. The bright side? Maybe a scare early and a close call will bring about the same focus that led to the mid to late season success last year.
Passing Accuracy: B
Decision Making: C+
The two interceptions and a few other bad decisions did impact the overall grade. However Austin Allen bounced back and showed resiliency beyond his number of starts and lead the Razorbacks to a fourth quarter comeback.
In terms of mechanics, Allen unleashed a bullet to Jared Cornelius for a score and showed the same cannon on a perfect throw to Jeremy Sprinkle for another. Those two alone made up for the ill advised throws but the decision making will need to be better against SEC opponents. Touch passes in the short game were a little less polished, but I was surprised at how smooth his command of the play action passing game looked.
His awareness in the pocket improved as the game went on, but several times when there was a corner blitz or a defensive end sitting on the bootleg Allen should have thrown quick or thrown the ball away. All of that being said, many times Allen was throwing with a defender in his face and stood up to the pressure.
This was supposed to be a game where the starter runs for the first half at most and the backup takes the remaining snaps. It just did not play out like that so Ty Storey was not able to get any live reps, which would have helped out later on.
Ball Security: A
Run Success Rate: C+
YDS After Contact: C
Passing Game: C-
The trio of backs put together a solid performance this week, and Rawleigh Williams III emerged as the #1 back. Kody Walker looked every bit the same bruising runner as last season.
None of them put the ball on the ground or even bobbled a snap which is a fact that cannot be overlooked. An unfortunate turnover could have been devastating and was the reason, according to Bielema, that Devwah Whaley was not in the rotation late.
Rawleigh is a better runner with a fullback leading the way at this point and Dan Enos went 2 back I formation almost exclusively on the go-ahead TD drive. He possesses exceptional quickness and power which was ideal for a down hill 1 cut scheme. He missed the hole on a small number of runs resulting in lost yardage but looked very impressive on the last two drives.
Catch Rate: C+
Run After Catch: A
This wide receiver group has a lot of talent and depth. Keon Hatcher looked like the same player from early last season, Drew Morgan was a tackle breaking, yards after catch machine. Jared Cornelius showed his versatility in the run game and ability to make tough catches in traffic.
The low-light was Cody Hollister dropping a couple of on the money throws, and some misread route adjustments. One, according to the coaching staff, was responsible for the second interception, and it makes sense considering there were two receivers within 5 yards of each other.
Not many 3 or 4 wide sets in this game, and Dominique Reed was unable to get many looks. As a whole, the WR’s made the plays when it counted even though Louisiana Tech was taking away anything over 20 yards.
Run Blocking: C
Catch Rate: A
Just a consistent workmen like performance for Jeremy Sprinkle, Austin Cantrell, and Jack Kraus. Cantrell’s catch in the flat and lowering of the boom on a DB is something we will see more and more of in the future. Sprinkle was Sprinkle catching every target thrown his way and showing solid run blocking power.
Run Blocking: C
Pass Pro: F
Short Yardage: B
Just an ugly start for the big uglies up front. Hjalte Froholdt struggled to pick up the pressure schemes from the Bulldogs and whiffed on at least two. Dan Skipper and Colton Jackson both were beaten multiple times on pass rushes, but Skipper and Frank Ragnow at center were by far the most dependable in pass sets.
Froholdt was lost on blitz pick up multiple times. Tech ran stunts and LB pressures from their 335 defense that is a remnant of the Manny Diaz defense and Arkansas will see that again this year vs Miss St. They used pressure from the field side, and second level defenders bumping down late to wreak havoc.
In the run game there were holes opening and against an undersized opponent that should be expected. On that second half drive out of 2 back I the lead iso and inside zone plays allowed Rawleigh Williams to tear off chunks of yardage. The run game will be all right, but without some personnel changes Austin Allen may be taking some shots again next week.
Pass Rush: B
Gap integrity: B
#1 point that I am tired of hearing.... the pass rush stinks. The pass rush at this time is just fine, when teams continue to run 4 and 5 wide sets with quick 1 step or catch and throw plays no pass rush is going to get there. It is just not going to happen, and the teams that run those plays are negating the pass rush by doing so. They are also giving up any chance to develop deeper routes but banking on the fact that a few missed tackles will lead to big plays.
Deatrich Wise (who won SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week), Jeremiah Ledbetter, Karl Roesler, Randy Ramsey and McTelvin Agim all got to the quarterback when there was more than a 3 second opportunity.
In the run game, there were a few busts in run fits against the QB inverted veer and zone read.
The incredible depth at the position will pay dividends later in the season where specialists like Karl Roesler and Randy Ramsey can play a role on third downs.
Run Fit: B
Play Diagnosis: C+
Nothing special here, but against a team like Louisiana Tech only Ellis and Greenlaw took reps for the most part. Dre Greenlaw came up big with a interception on a vertical route that he struggled with last season.
Ellis showed his sideline to sideline relentless pursuit from previous seasons. His ability to not get lost in traffic and make sure tackles in space are a foundation of winning against a majority of teams.
Run Fit: C
Open Field Tackling: D
Break on the ball: D
Pattern Matching: D
#2 point that I am tired of hearing.... the defensive backs are playing too far off! No they aren’t, they are playing exactly how they are coached to play versus trips to the field. There are not many teams in the country who will line up in press man/zone vs 4 or 5 wide.
Robb Smith plays a bend but don’t break philosophy in the secondary mixed with some pressure on the short side of the field. Minus DJ Dean they just do not have a guy who can play in a receivers face and run with them down the field. asking your safeties to play there is not a part of the scheme either.
Toliver looked outmatched in the slot and when he did play tighter coverage, getting beaten easily to the inside on slants.
This group will improve, but how quickly is the looming question.
The coaching staff will make the necessary corrections and have this team ready for TCU and a mirror image of the challenges presented on Saturday. TCU will play fast and have higher caliber athletes at every position, so you have to believe that a game plan will be put in place to remedy some of the problems on the offensive line and in the secondary.