If you expected anything different than a blowout, then I don’t know what to tell you. Your optimism truly knows no bounds, but what is becoming increasingly typical for Arkansas, some positive signs showed up in a 65-31 loss to the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Towards the end of the Texas A&M game, they found some success in passing to the tight end. In what is really the first concrete example found of positive coaching within the offensive staff, they built on that, and in the first half it was surprisingly effective. Cheyenne O’Grady had a nice game, catching two touchdowns. The first was from a nice throw from Ty Storey, and the second a goal one pass from Cole Kelley. Another positive was the play of Rakeem Boyd, who is looking more and more like an SEC quality back with each game. His 102 yard game was the first 100-yard rushing performance Arkansas has had against Alabama since Darren McFadden in 2007.
The passing game worked because it didn’t ask Storey to do too much with the ball, and the numbers reflect that passing. He finished 25/39 with two touchdowns on the game. His biggest issue was protecting the ball. His two fumbles were extremely costly for the Hogs. Arkansas’ brightest moment came down 21-7 in the second quarter. The defense got a stuff on 4th and 1 and Rakeem Boyd just ripped a long run to the Alabama 5 yard line. Storey tried to take the ball in himself and instead of potentially having a one possession game and all the momentum, he fumbled just shy of the goal line and the Tide recovered.
Now for the defense. It got torched. Which isn’t unusual against the Tide, especially when Tua Tagovailoa gets it going and boy did he have it going. After the positives from the A&M game, they definitely took a step back, even when adjusting expectations for the opponent. They took the first pass, a dump off to the flats, for 76 yards and a touchdown. That can’t happen no matter the opponent. After that Tagovailoa was comfortable and able to do whatever he wanted.
While the offense showed signs of life in this one, it was a step back for the defense. Now with some potentially winnable games on the schedule, saying there were positives in a blowout loss won’t be enough. The games for that have come and gone. Putting the Tide in the rear view mirror means it’s the second half of the season, and that should give some tangible results. Not just good feelings after a blowout.