Category Archives: Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

A couple more details about Arky-Georgia

That thing about Arkansas spitting the bit against SEC teams in the fourth quarter… turns out it’s an “it’s in their heads” thing.

Arkansas spent two weeks working on its fourth quarter flaws after suffering a 35-28 overtime loss to Texas A&M. The struggles — at least on offense — didn’t end in the 14-13 loss to Alabama in Razorback Stadium last Saturday.

Arkansas was scoreless in the fourth quarter against a Southeastern Conference opponent for the third time this season. Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama have now outscored the Razorbacks 38-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I saw drives that didn’t get going, drives that stalled out,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Monday. “It’s kind of been a continuing theme for us, unfortunately in SEC play, and it’s something I’m really began to hone in and be aware of last week and tried to make certain adjustments. But it’s something I’ve challenged our offensive staff with, and our players. Obviously, the biggest failure for us overall is to not put points on the board in the fourth quarter, and to win close games.”

The Razorbacks could manage only 35 yards on 16 plays against the Crimson Tide, struggling to move the ball with the game on the line. Arkansas had four possessions, but went three-plays-and-out twice, was stuffed on fourth down on its third chance and quarterback Brandon Allen threw an interception at the end.

“That’s where most of our mental mistakes are coming,” Allen said. “We have a lot of mental errors in the fourth quarter and you can’t do that if you want to win games. It’s up to us just to polish things off and going into the fourth quarter and staying mentally sharp and doing things we’ve been doing the whole game.”

The fourth-quarter struggles in SEC games go back to last season, when the Hogs also lost late leads against Mississippi State and LSU. In all, Arkansas has been outscored 62-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime of its past five conference games dating back to the 2013 season. The Hogs led in the fourth quarter of each one.

But tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said the issues aren’t limited to one theme.

“It’s a myriad of different things that have popped up for us,” Lunney said. “I think whatever it has been, whatever it should have been or could have been, when we play a good fourth quarter and we win, that’ll be our answer. So we’re working towards that and hopefully it will come sooner than later.”

Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman said the ongoing struggles are frustrating for everyone involved. But he added the coaching will attempt another tactic when the fourth quarter arrives against Georgia on Saturday.

“We’re going to coach them in the fourth quarter like we did in the first three and see if that will help,” Pittman said. “I think that we’ve become a little tighter with the players and I think they’ve become tighter when we do. So we’re going to coach them to go out there and have fun just like they did in the first, second and third quarters. We just need to be more upbeat and more positive with them at that point.

“If you play three quarters of ball a lot of things have gone right and some things have gone wrong and you’ve got to flush it. We’re going to start the fourth like we start the beginning of a game and see if that will help us. I bet it will.”

I’ll take that bet, Sam.  It’s the kind of thing that’s a lot easier to say than it is to do.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind if Georgia enters the fourth quarter in a tight game.

Also, the Georgia has been ridiculously good managing field position thing?  It’s even better.  In fact, it’s the best.

Give me another dose of that and positive turnover margin, and I like Georgia’s chances on Saturday a lot.

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Friday morning buffet

Get your feed bag on.

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Eye of the beholder, baby.

Saturday looks like a tough game for Georgia.  Don’t take my word for that.

There’s no way Arkansas can get a “moral victory” out of Saturday. Win or it’s a disappointment, especially if Gurley doesn’t play.

Funny thing about that is Mr. S&P+, Bill Connelly, rates Georgia’s chance of success Saturday at 80.4%.  (His cohort with the F/+ ratings has Georgia seventh nationally and Arkansas outside the top 25.)

Now I’m not trying to dismiss the game, as I, too, think it’s gonna be a battle.  In fact, I like the keys to the game set up in that post.

Keys to the Game

  1. Break even or win the turnover battle. A win would be really nice, but it’s not completely necessary unless Arkansas fails in other areas. Losing could be disastrous. Georgia hasn’t lost it yet, and has lost a game in which it went +2 (South Carolina).
  2. Record fewer than 15 yards per point. Same as last week, Arkansas needs to maximize its yards. The Hogs are 0-3 when recording more than 15 yards per point, so this is kind of necessary. Holding Georgia above 15 yards per point would almost guarantee a victory, but it’s not completely necessary.
  3. Win the spike rate. Arkansas lost it badly last week (44.1 percent to 28.3 percent). That means 44.1 percent of Arkansas’ offensive snaps went for no gain, lost yardage, or a turnover. Against a team running a similar offense, Arkansas needs to win it this week.
  4. Win the field position battle. Arkansas also lost the field position battle badly last week, averaging 12 yards worse per possession (37 to 25) in starting field position. Alabama has a great punter, but Arkansas is not interesting in letting D.J. Dean actually field punts. Sam Irwin-Hill didn’t have a great game punting the ball, either. Georgia’s offense sans Todd Gurley lacks explosiveness, so forcing the Dawgs to drive the length of the field for every point is essential.
  5. Hold Georgia below 33 percent success rate rushing, and under 9.5 isoYPP rushing. Arkansas held Alabama to 24 percent and 7.83 isoYPP rushing, so this should not be a tall order. Against Alabama, Arkansas loaded up the box, shut down the run, and forced Blake Sims to win the game with his arm, which he was barely able to do. Hutson Mason doesn’t have the benefit of a dominant defense or ultra-talented receivers, so if Arkansas can shut down Georgia’s run game, the Hogs should win, perhaps by a large margin.

Don’t let Georgia get on the plus side of turnover margin, don’t let Georgia control field position, shut down Georgia’s running game… yeah, I think any team that can do all that beats this Dawgs team.  The thing is, doing those things has been Georgia’s modus operandi all season, and the team has been pretty good at them.

Stats can be useful, and I do think it’s clear from the stats that this year’s Arkansas team is a better squad than last year’s.  But learning how to win isn’t a stat, it’s a state of mind.  And it’s something that a team on a long conference losing streak still hasn’t got figured out, kind of like Tennessee.

And to illustrate that with a stat I heard today on Seth’s and Gentry’s podcast, in Arkansas’ last five SEC losses, it’s been outscored 48-0 in the fourth quarter.  Think Georgia’s conditioning may be a factor?

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Bielema’d

After getting run over front, back and sideways by Arkansas, Texas Tech fires its defensive coordinator.

It’s Bert’s first scalp at Arky.

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Jeff Long, man of action

I don’t know if anyone caught Brett McMurphy’s Twitter feed yesterday, but… well, start here.

Long talked a good game.

Then comes the punchline.

That’s from the man charged with making the playoff selection committee’s deliberations transparent.  Good luck with that, y’all.

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Thursday morning buffet

Okay, here you go.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football

Thursday morning buffet

Another day, another buffet line.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA