Looking back at Arkansas’ 73-7 win against Nicholls State.
Looking back at Arkansas’ 73-7 win against Nicholls State.
Five Keys Review
1. Eliminate Mistakes — Accomplished
Arkansas put together a relatively clean performance for the second straight week. The Razorbacks committed one turnover (Austin Allen’s interception with the Razorbacks leading 63-7 in the third quarter) and were penalized seven times for 69 yards. Five of the flags came in the first half when the starters were on the field, but none wiped out scoring chances or led to Nicholls State points. So nothing costly.
2. Own the Trenches — Accomplished
The Razorbacks knew they had a big advantage against the Southland Conference opponent and it was evident all afternoon. Running backs and receivers sprinted through gaping holes opened up by the offensive line. The defensive front spent most of the day in the Nicholls State backfield as the Razorbacks finished with 10 tackles for losses and 6 sacks. Arkansas did what it was supposed to do in the win.
3. Strong Tackling — Accomplished
It’s hard to gauge how much improvement Arkansas made because of the opponent. But it was apparent the Razorbacks didn’t let Nicholls State have anything easy Saturday. The Colonels’ longest play was a 26-yard pass from backup quarterback Beaux Hebert to receiver Xavier Marcus in the fourth quarter. Nicholls State only had three plays over 20 yards in the game and all of them came in the second half.
4. Better Pass Defense — Accomplished
Arkansas didn’t break up any passes at Auburn on Aug. 30. But the secondary – which was missing another contributor in De’Andre Coley – was much more active against Nicholls State. Rohan Gaines, Alan Turner and Cornelius Floyd broke up passes. D.J. Dean grabbed the first interception of the season. Nicholls finished with 208 passing yards on 43 attempts (4.8 yards an attempt). But much like the tackling, it’s hard to tell how much improvement Arkansas made because of the opponent.
5. Stay Healthy — Accomplished
Considering the rough road ahead, this might’ve been Arkansas’ biggest accomplishment Saturday. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema reported no significant injuries after the win — although safety Alan Turner did appear to suffer a shoulder injury — and should have a healthy squad heading to Lubbock, Texas., to play Texas Tech. Arkansas is confident it will have running back Korliss Marshall and defensive end Deatrich Wise back as well. Both sat out the Nicholls State win.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator Robb Smith meet with the media on Sunday nights during the season. Below are some of their thoughts after Arkansas’ 73-7 win against Nicholls State:
• Chaney on Arkansas’ record-setting day:
"That was unique in a lot of ways to score as early and as often as we did. No, I can’t say that happens very often in a man’s career. If it’s happened in mine it was a long time ago. Probably so far along I can’t remember it. It was pretty unique (Saturday)."
• Chaney on the performance of Arkansas’ receivers:
"They caught the ball. They caught the ball and ended up in the end zone a lot of times, which is ideally what we’d love to be able to do a lot. So that was good to see. I was glad to see Drew (Morgan) get a catch. And then Cody (Hollister) got a catch. And Keon (Hatcher) played well again. So that was good. Good for everybody."
• Smith on playing eight true freshmen on defense:
"I feel really good about their progress. For us to get to where we’re going to go, we’re going to need those guys at different points in time during the season. As the season goes, their role will expand. But I really like what they did (Saturday), and now we’ve got a chance to build on that this week in practice as well."
• Smith on Arkansas’ improvement after the Auburn loss:
"I saw a lot things that are going to be a challenge after Auburn, I’m not going to lie to you there. … We needed to shore some things up there, and I think our guys worked hard last week to improve those things, and we’re anxious to go out there and do it against another opponent this week."
Players of the Game
Offense – WR Keon Hatcher (82 yard rushing TD, 50 yard receiving TD)
The junior didn’t touch the ball much Saturday. But when he did, Hatcher made it count. His 82-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage set the tone in the rout. Hatcher – who dropped a long ball at Auburn – also pulled in a 50-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Hatcher also had a 47-yard kick return.
Defense – DT Taiwan Johnson (3 tackles for losses, 2 ½ sacks)
Johnson, who wasn’t in the starting lineup Saturday, had plenty of big plays against Nicholls. The sophomore had three of Arkansas’ 10 tackles for losses. He also had 2 ½ of the team’s six sacks. Johnson may be undersized for the position, but has been productive through two weeks. He leads the team with 4 TFLs and 3 ½ sacks.
Special Teams – PR D.J. Dean (Averaged 23.5 yards on four punt returns)
Dean flashed some speed and elusiveness on special teams against Nicholls State. Most of his work came on a 63-yard return late in the first quarter, when Dean fielded a punt and sprinted through a gaping hole. The sophomore was brought down at the 2-yard line, but the Hogs scored on the next play to make it 35-0.
2 — Number of SEC records Arkansas set Saturday. The records were for yards per play (12.7) and yards per carry (12.4). Alabama held the yards per play record, averaging 11.9 against Virginia Tech in 1973. Auburn was the SEC record-holder in yards per carry, averaging 11.88 against Western Carolina last season.
13 — The Arkansas’ offenses touchdown total after two games. It puts the Razorbacks well ahead of last year’s pace, when the offense managed 29 touchdowns in 12 games. Nine different players have scored a TD so far in 2014.
18 — Players who made their Arkansas debuts in Saturday’s win against the Colonels. The list included true freshmen Frank Ragnow, Cornelius Floyd, Khalia Hackett, Anthony Brown and Kendrick Edwards. Redshirt freshmen Austin Allen, Damon Mitchell, Chris Jones and Ke’Tyrus Marks also were on the list.
540.6 — Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen’s passer rating in the Nicholls State win. Allen completed 4 of 5 passes for 117 yards with 4 touchdowns. He became the ninth Arkansas quarterback to throw four or more touchdowns in a game. Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson share the school record with five touchdown passes.
Arkansas hits the road for the second time this season, traveling to Lubbock, Texas, to play Texas Tech. ABC will televise the game and kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.
Texas Tech is off to a 2-0 start, but the Red Raiders have been pretty shaky in their second season under coach Kliff Kingsbury. Texas Tech slipped by Central Arkansas 42-35 in its opener on Aug. 30, then needed a late touchdown drive and defensive stand to secure a 30-26 road win at Texas-El Paso on Saturday night.
Saturday’s game will be the first between former Southwest Conference rivals since Texas Tech’s 38-21 win in Lubbock in 1991. Arkansas holds a 28-7 edge in the series and will be looking for its first road win since beating Auburn in 2012.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau