Third, long way to go

Hogs’ offense, defense struggle on key down

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, September 10, 2017
Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan chases TCU receiver Dylan Thomas during a game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan chases TCU receiver Dylan Thomas during a game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks and TCU each faced third and 7 on their first series Saturday.

Horned Frogs defensive end Ben Banogu sacked quarterback Austin Allen for a 2-yard loss to force a punt by the Razorbacks.

TCU quarterback Kenny Hill hit running back Kyle Hicks for an 18-yard gain to the Razorbacks 7 to set up a touchdown.

That's pretty much the way third down went all day for the Razorbacks and the Horned Frogs.

TCU dominated third downs on both sides of the ball as the No. 23 Horned Frogs beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 28-7 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The Horned Frogs converted 10 of 14 third-down plays on offense -- including 10 of their first 12 -- and Arkansas went 4 of 14 on third-down conversions with a 1-of-7 start.

"It's a critical area," Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema said. "It's one of the biggest areas we work on, concentrate on and talk about.

"The offense never really seemed to have anything we could go to consistently."

Nine times the Razorbacks faced third downs on which they needed 5 or more yards for a first down. They converted twice on Allen's 5-yard pass to tight end Cheyenne O'Grady on third and 5 and on Allen's 16-yard scramble on third and 14.

"We've got to be better on third down as an offense," said Allen, who completed 9 of 23 passes for 138 yards. "We've got to run good routes, put the ball in the right place.

"You win or lose games on third down, and we didn't hit our goal. It wasn't even close probably. I'm sure we'll be working on that all week."

Hill ran for four first downs on third-down plays and converted two third downs on passes, including a 22-yard completion to Shaun Nixon to set up a touchdown that put TCU ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.

"Third down is the money down to us," said Arkansas junior safety Santos Ramirez, who intercepted a Hill pass and made eight tackles. "We've got to get off the field, man. We just have to.

"There ain't no excuses. They executed some, and we stopped them on some, but in the end they got the victory."

The Horned Frogs were 7 of 11 on third-down conversions last week in a 63-0 victory over Jackson State and held the Tigers to 1 of 14.

"You have to play good on first down and good on third down," TCU Coach Gary Patterson said. "We played well last week on first and third down ... and this week we were 10 of 14, so we just need to keep doing what we are doing."

Patterson said fresh bodies on defense helped the Horned Frogs win third downs against Arkansas' offense.

"I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have rotated four or five linebackers," Patterson said. "We rotated eight or nine defensive linemen, and we rotated three corners and a couple of safeties."

The Razorbacks rotated players on defense as well but didn't get the same results as the Frogs.

"We just have to compete," Arkansas senior defensive back Kevin Richardson said. "We know what they have to get to. We just have to go out there with the mindset that if we get this stop, we can get off the field right here.

"Regardless of the down and distance, we have to go out there and compete our butts off to get off the field and get our offense the ball back."

Coming down to third down

• TCU and Arkansas each faced third-down situations 14 times, but the Horned Frogs successfully converted on 10 of their opportunities, while Arkansas made good on four. It made the difference in the game:



4 of 14 (28.6 percent)



3rd and 7;Sack;Punt

3rd and 5;5-yard pass;TD

3rd and 9;Incomplete; Punt

3rd and 4;Incomplete;Missed FG


3rd and 9;1-yard run;Punt

3rd and 4;2-yard run;Punt


3rd and 5;Incomplete pass;Punt

3 and 14;16-yard run;1st down

3rd and 1;13-yard run;1st down


3rd and goal;Incomplete pass;FG attempt

3rd and 2;9-yard pass;1st down

3rd and 20;Sack;Punt

3rd and 5;No gain;4th-down attempt

3rd and 10;Incomplete pass;4th-down attempt



10 of 14 (71.4 percent)



3rd and 7;18-yard pass;TD

3rd and 10;Incomplete;Punt


3rd and 1;5-yard run;1st down

3rd and 1;2-yard run;1st down

3rd and 3;7-yard run;1st down

3rd and 10;22-yard pass;1st down

3rd and 21;Incomplete;Punt

3rd and 5;5-yard run;1st down


3rd and 1;2-yard run;1st down

3rd and 1;5-yard run;1st down

3rd and 6;11-yard pass;1st down

;3rd and 4;No gain;Punt


3 and 13;1-yard pass;Punt

3rd and 12;PI penalty;1st down


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