Razorbacks rewind :

TCU halts UA power with speed

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Monday, September 11, 2017
Arkansas' David Williams (33) runs the ball against TCU at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
Photo by David Beach
Arkansas' David Williams (33) runs the ball against TCU at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

FAYETTEVILLE -- TCU limited Arkansas to 129 rushing yards, one of the biggest keys to the Horned Frogs' 28-7 victory on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The Razorbacks rushed for 180 yards in last year's 41-38 double overtime victory in Fort Worth, Texas.

Arkansas' game plan was to wear down the Horned Frogs' lighter players on the edges, but TCU countered with speed and by crowding the box to win the line of scrimmage.

"We had some success out of some formations, but couldn't consistently do anything on the ground and that really affected our play-action pass game and the ability to find some receivers down field," Coach Bret Bielema said.

"I think we've got to physically strain a lot harder. It seems like those were smaller players that we wanted to lean on and put some weight on them and try to turn it into our type of game. Again, there were times there where I felt that momentum starting to swing our way and we'd do something to shoot ourselves in the foot."

Senior David Williams, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, rushed 10 times for 65 yards. But Devwah Whaley and Chase Hayden combined to rush 13 times for 33 yards, an average of 2.5 yards per carry.

"They brought safeties down, they added in guys," said Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen, who had scrambles of 16 and 20 yards for first downs and was sacked three times. "They kind of loaded up the box a little bit, and they were fast and physical."

TCU Coach Gary Patterson said he knew the Horned Frogs would have to control the Arkansas ground game to have a chance.

"It's only two ballgames, but we're happy with where we are right now," Patterson said. "Obviously Arkansas is historically good at running the ball, but I thought our kids were physical. I thought it was really important for us that we rotate a lot of defensive linemen."

Rotation reduction?

Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema suggested the team's playing rotation of wide receivers might need to be reduced to provide continuity for quarterback Austin Allen and the passing game.

The Razorbacks seemed out of sync on deep routes, with LaMichael Pettway and Jordan Jones both stumbling on longer routes. Allen also failed to hook up with Deon Stewart by several yards on a deep shot in the first quarter.

Senior Jared Cornelius, who sat out most of fall camp with a tight back, dropped a couple of passes, including an open shot in the left flats on the Razorbacks' first offensive snap.

"We've got to get sudden in the pass game," Bielema said. "We had guys that I think weren't separating themselves. I think we're trying to maybe work too many people. We need to concentrate on here's our five wide receivers. These are the guys who going to play in the game, get them the reps and decide who they are.

"We had a couple deep balls get thrown. We had a guy fall down. Just stuff that doesn't have any place in SEC football."

Injury report

Receiver Deon Stewart got rolled from behind while blocking on a 9-yard run by David Williams during the Hogs' first-quarter touchdown drive. Stewart went out, but he was able to return.

Defensive back Kevin Richardson and linebackers Randy Ramsey and Dwayne Eugene left the field briefly after getting dinged up, but they returned to action.

Richardson jogged off in second quarter and headed straight into the training room to be checked out.

"Just tweaked a little something," Richardson said, elaborating no further on his injury. "I'll just get some treatment on it. It's nothing too bad."

Flag flux

Arkansas was penalized five times for 49 yards against TCU, two of the flags blunting returns by Deon Stewart and Santos Ramirez.

The Razorbacks were penalized twice for 20 yards in their opener against Florida A&M.

Kendrick Jackson was flagged for holding on the game's opening kickoff after Stewart ran the ball out from a yard deep in the end zone. That penalty caused Arkansas to start its first drive at the 10-yard line.

Ramirez returned a first-quarter interception into TCU territory, but a holding infraction on cornerback Chevin Calloway, marked off from the Horned Frogs' 48 sent the ball back to the Arkansas 42. The Hogs drove 53 yards to the TCU 5 before missing a field goal.

Arkansas still ranks 21st nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (34.5).

Santos pick

Strong safety Santos Ramirez won a 50-50 ball against TCU receiver KaVontae Turpin on an underthrown pass from Kenny Hill in the first quarter. Turpin broke open across the deep middle, running right to left toward the Horned Frogs' sideline. Hill's wobbly pass came in behind Turpin on his left shoulder and Ramirez wrestled the ball free before returning it into TCU territory.

"The front was getting great pressure on Kenny Hill," Ramirez said. "He threw the ball, my guy ran a post. I broke on it with him and I just took the ball out of his hands. I just made a play. I try to do the best I can for this team with everything I've got."

Tempo control

The Razorbacks had fewer issues with getting calls in, getting lined up properly and with their stamina against TCU's no-huddle fast-speed offense than they had last year.

"Coach Rhoads prepared us really well throughout the week trying to simulate their tempo," defensive back Kevin Richardson said. "It was a really good simulation, because it didn't feel as fast as we thought it would feel compared to ours, who gave us a great look this whole week."

TCU rushed up to the line after many of its offensive plays, but quarterback Kenny Hill quite often looked to the sideline for signals rather than running the offense at fast speed.

"The tempo didn't feel like it was too much, so I don't feel like we were too fatigued at all," Richardson said.

Patton pick up

Two Razorbacks played key roles in Jeremy Patton's 32-yard catch and run late in the first quarter, including fellow tight end Cheyenne O'Gray.

Tailback Devwah Whaley picked up a corner blitz from Julius Lewis on the play-action pass, allowing Patton to break open on the crossing route. O'Grady, working 15 yards downfield after the reception, blocked safety Niko Small for 5 yards, giving Patton an alley down the left sideline. Patton, a 250 pounds, finished the play by crunching safety Nick Orr at the sideline.

Two plays later, linemen Johnny Gibson, Frank Ragnow and Hjalte Froholdt all had key blocks as O'Grady took a screen pass 19 yards to the TCU 11. Ragnow blocked two TCU defenders on the play and Froholdt engaged Chris Bradley for 20 yards down the field, eventually crashing him into the turf inside the 10.

Missed threes

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema suggested he would have to move on from Cole Hedlund as the team's place-kicker after Hedlund missed chip shots from 23 and 20 yards against TCU.

The first miss, on the first play of the second quarter, would have put Arkansas ahead 10-7. The second miss would have cut TCU's lead to 14-10 early in the fourth quarter.

"It can hurt, because those are points on the board that you're missing," Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez said. "You can't really get down, because you've still got the game to play. But we need those points.

"Cole has got to make those. I'm not down on him or nothing like that, but in practice he's got to really focus on those, because we need those points on the board."

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PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offense

WR Jonathan Nance

Nance, a junior-college transfer from Mississippi, caught three passes for a game-high 75 yards. Nance was wide open on a first-quarter bootleg pass from Austin Allen and raced into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown.

Defense

LB Dre Greenlaw and SS Santos Ramirez

Greenlaw, a junior from Fayetteville, had a career-high 17 tackles. Ramirez, a junior from Shreveport, accounted for 8 tackles, a pass breakup and a 16-yard interception return. He also forced a fumble inside the Arkansas 5 that was nearly recovered inbound.

Sports on 09/11/2017

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