Grading the Five Keys

Grading the Five Keys

1. No Extra Possessions — C

Arkansas’ offense was under pressure to limit the possessions for Texas A&M’s quick-strike offense Saturday. The Razorbacks only had one turnover, losing the ball on a botched snap between Brandon Allen and Mitch Smothers. But there were plenty of other problems that gave the Aggies chances to come from behind. Penalties, a missed field goal, stalled drives and other miscues cost the Razorbacks. The Aggies took advantage by scoring the final three touchdowns to win.

2. Put Pressure on Hill — C+

The Arkansas defense never got to Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill on Saturday, but did make an impact with its pass rush. Trey Flowers and Darius Philon were particularly disruptive in the first half, forcing Hill to rush throws as the Texas A&M offense struggled. But like every other phase, the defensive effort faltered with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Hill had ample time to look downfield and found open receivers, leading to three touchdown passes that won the game.

3. Limit Big Plays — D

The Razorbacks knew the Aggies would take their shots with a strong-armed quarterback and big-play receivers. Texas A&M didn’t have much success through three quarters, which was a big reason for Arkansas’ 28-14. But Arkansas’ secondary slipped up in the fourth quarter and it led to the loss. The Aggies regained life with Hill’s 86-yard touchdown pass to Edward Pope to cut it to 28-21. Then Hill threw a 59-yard strike to receiver Josh Reynolds to tie the game and doom the Hogs.

4. Third-Down Success — C

Arkansas and Texas A&M entered the game with two of the most successful third-down offenses. Neither was great Saturday. Credit Arkansas’ defense for holding Texas A&M, which had converted 60 percent, to 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) Saturday. Arkansas’ offense was well below its season average of 55 percent in the loss, too going 5-for-15 (33.3). In the end, the Razorbacks’ inability to move the chains late proved costly. Arkansas was 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

5. Control A&M Front — B-

Texas A&M’s defense had been one of the most productive in the nation with 17 sacks through four games. The Razorbacks didn’t allow the Aggies to add to that total Saturday, though. Arkansas’ physical offensive line also did a good job of controlling the Aggies much of the game. Until it mattered most. Texas A&M — which got some help from critical penalties — forced the Hogs to go three-and-out on three of their final four possessions in regulation. Then the Aggies won the game by stuffing Arkansas running back Alex Collins on fourth-and-1 in overtime.

Quote Corner

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator Robb Smith weren’t available Sunday because the Razorbacks are beginning their bye week. But below are a few thoughts from Arkansas’ players after Saturday’s loss:

• Right tackle Brey Cook on Arkansas’ second-half struggles:

"We had too many three-and-outs. Our offense takes pride in taking care of that clock, and we didn’t execute in the second half. We were ready to strike back. We just couldn’t execute."

• Punter Sam Irwin-Hill on breaking tackles during his 51-yard TD run

"Thank you. … But it comes naturally. I played Australia rules football back home. I’m kind of used to it."

• Safety Alan Turner on Texas A&M’s big plays in the fourth quarter:

"We just wanted to keep guys in front of us because they like to make big plays. We were good at the start, but in the fourth quarter and the overtime, they slipped behind us."

• Tight end A.J. Derby on 4th-and-1 that ended the game:

"I think they did know what was coming, but we thought we could get it. Obviously, we felt that was our best play. That was not the determining play of the game. We felt like we made a lot of mistakes and we’ve got to learn from."

Players of the Game

Offense – RB Alex Collins (21 carries, 131 yards, TD)

Collins turned in his third, 100-yard effort of the season and helped the Hogs build a 28-14 lead. The big play came in the second quarter, when the sophomore broke off a 50-yard touchdown run. It was his second touchdown run of 50 or more yards this season. But Collins was limited to 43 yards on 12 carries in the second half Saturday.

Defense – LB Martrell Spaight (13 tackles, TFL)

The senior turned in another productive outing, leading Arkansas’ defense with 13 tackles. He also had one of the Razorbacks’ three tackles for losses. Spaight came close to added his second interception when a pass deflected off his fingertips and into the hands of an A&M receiver. Spaight’s 13 tackles are a career high.

Special Teams –P Sam Irwin-Hill (51-yard punt return TD)

Irwin-Hill benefitted from Bret Bielema’s willingness to gamble Saturday. He faked a punt and rumbled around the left side of the line, working his way through traffic and into the end zone in the second quarter. The 51-yard score gave the Hogs a 21-14 halftime lead. Irwin-Hill also averaged 43.4 yards on seven punts in the loss.

That Figures

4:49 — Time of Arkansas’ longest drive Saturday. The Razorbacks wanted to chew time off the clock, but its first possession proved to be the longest of the game. In fact, only three of Arkansas’ 14 possessions lasted longer than four minutes.

6 — SEC West teams ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll Sunday. The Razorbacks were minutes away from making the division 7-for-7. But the late collapse leaves Arkansas as the only unranked team for the second straight week.

7 — Arkansas’ point total after halftime in two SEC games. Auburn outscored the Razorbacks 24-0, while Texas A&M limited them to one touchdown Saturday. Arkansas has been outscored 45-7 after halftime of its two SEC games this season.

14 — Length of Arkansas’ SEC losing streak, which is now the longest active slide in the conference. Kentucky snapped its 17-game SEC losing streak with a 17-7 win against Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Razorbacks haven’t won an SEC game since beating Kentucky 49-7 on Oct. 13, 2012.

290 — Texas A&M’s yardage total through three quarters Saturday, which was significantly below its season average of 612.5. Then came the fourth quarter and overtime, when the Aggies gained 233 yards to finish with 523.

Up Next

Arkansas (3-2, 0-2 in SEC) has two weeks to stew about its fourth-quarter collapse at Texas A&M, stepping into a bye week after the 35-28 overtime loss.

The Razorbacks need the time off to regroup and prepare because third-ranked Alabama is next on the schedule. Arkansas will welcome the Crimson Tide to Razorback Stadium on Oct. 4. Kickoff time will be announced later today.

Alabama has won seven straight in the series. The last two victories have been particularly embarrassing for the Razorbacks. Alabama posted 52-0 wins in both 2012 (Fayetteville) and 2013 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). Arkansas has been held scoreless by Alabama for nine straight quarters (143:54 in all), dating back to Tyler Wilson’s touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton in the third quarter of the 38-14 loss in 2011.

Alabama (4-0, 1-0 in SEC) will be on the road for the second straight week. The Crimson Tide plays at No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0 in SEC) on Saturday.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau