Hog Calls:

Even in blowout, some issues persist for Hogs

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, October 3, 2016
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith during the Razorbacks' game against Alcorn State on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Photo by Jason Ivester
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith during the Razorbacks' game against Alcorn State on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

FAYETTEVILLE -- From their 52-10 rout of Alcorn State last Saturday in Little Rock the Razorbacks should feel better about themselves on some aspects meeting undefeated No. 1 reigning national and SEC champion Alabama on Saturday night in Fayetteville.

On some others not so much. Some of what vexed 4-1 Arkansas in its 45-24 SEC season opening loss to the Texas A&M Aggies two Saturdays ago at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas manifested last Saturday at War Memorial Stadium even while the Razorbacks routed a rent-a-win from the lower-division Southwestern Athletic Conference.

An Arkansas defense beleaguered by big plays from an A&M offense that amassed 591 total yards in Arlington ultimately allowed 313 yards in Little Rock to a now 1-3 SWAC team.

Mostly when the Hogs were thoroughly outplayed in the second quarter and again when Alcorn put the Hogs on their heels to start the third quarter, the visiting Braves reeled off big plays. Alcorn quarterback Noah Johnson, 13 of 19 for 158 including a 39-yard pass to the Arkansas 1, on a SWAC scale created some similar problems that Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight caused Arkansas.

A 53-yard longest run and a 12-yard touchdown sprang from Johnson's legs. Braves running back Arron Baker averaged 6.5 on 13 carries against Arkansas mainly from popping a 46-yarder.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his defensive staff will pore over film trying to correct knowing that Alabama Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will probe to continue to exploit what's wrong and adjust to the Arkansas corrections they anticipate at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

On Arkansas' plus side, the Razorbacks in Little Rock turned the tide back in their third quarter favor off big plays by their defense.

Nickel back Henre Toliver's 70-yard pick-six and safety De'Andre Coley's fumble recovery upon the Braves opening the third quarter driving to the Arkansas 1 were pivotal. Safety Josh Liddell's interception set up another Arkansas touchdown.

Offensively the Razorbacks rushed for 353 yards with running backs Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley both surpassing 100. Staying perpetually ahead of its 24-0 first quarter kept quarterback Austin Allen, 13 of 18 for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns without a turnover, untouched the entire game.

Allen absorbed a second-half shellacking from A&M when the Hogs trailed so considerably they had to pass down after down.

Disconcerting, though, after spending a week trying to correct game-fatal goal-line offense woes vs. A&M, the Hogs in Little Rock had to settle for a field goal on their first red zone foray. Worse, they failed to convert a fourth and one running from their 45 and missed a 44-yard field goal.

Despite those mistakes they turned the third-quarter tide on Alcorn State. They know this Saturday with those same miscues that they aren't apt to turn the Tide.

Sports on 10/03/2016


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