I didn’t know it could be done. It was ambitious as hell. For five guys, four of whom are avid Razorback fans, to watch a Hog game on a three-hour DVR delay without receiving any score updates or commentary to ruin it. Bachelor weekend called for early-morning golf at Mountain Ranch, which required meticulous planning in order to ensure we watched the game “live” when we finally got back to the cabin At 2:00 p.m.
Like Jerry Seinfeld following the Mets, we greeted every passing golfer with a pleasant enough “HelloDONOTSAYAWORDABOUTTHEHOG GAMEWEARERECORDINGIT.” It’s nervewracking as hell, and I don’t recommend it, but we pulled it off without a snag, and ended up celebrating a Razorback victory about 5:30 Saturday evening. For those keeping score at home, beverage of choice this weekend was The Silver Bullet, supplemented early and often with Charter Ten and Sprite.
So let’s get to it. Better late than never.
I know a lot of criticism is going to fall on the defense, but I really was not that discouraged, even in the first half. Ole Miss does have some talent, and Nutt came up with a gameplan that worked beautifully in the first half. The genius was in the simplicity. Fortunately for us, Nutt, in true Nutt fashion, tried to ride that simplicity out for the full 60 minutes, and had no answer for our defense once we adjusted to the four plays that were gashing us over and over in the first half.
We really did not tackle that poorly. Tramain Thomas reverted to his pussoire alter for spells, but he turned it around and made plays as well. Tevin Mitchel got trucked once, but at least he was moving up to make a play when it happened. Highsmith made some boneheaded plays, but he also made plays all over the field.
The problem, for the most part, is that our defensive unit was not in position to make tackles early in the game. Houston gets some credit for that, and our coaching staff gets some blame, but I much prefer that to a team that is in the right place and simply cannot bring the ballcarrier to the ground. I’ve seen that team in us this year, and it sucks way worse.
The Moncrief kid from Ole Miss made two fantastic touchdown catches, or we might have gotten the blowout that everyone expected. Thomas played pretty solid coverage on the last Rebel score, and Moncrief just made a play. Mackey had a good game as well. Hell, all of Nutt’s skill players executed well. He just didn’t give them enough opportunities to do so.
That we scored on a draw play on third-and-forever against Houston Nutt is one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. I don’t do drugs, but I imagine that really, really good drugs must produce this feeling.
So, Tyler. Not the greatest game, but my problem with him isn’t so much the inaccuracy as the decisions he was making. People bitch about the long passes, but my issue is that he was throwing them in the first place. Ole Miss saw us throw all over the middle of the field on A&M, and they sought to take that away. Same as Auburn. Against Auburn, Tyler was content to hit his safety valve, and those dumps turned several times into big plays. Yesterday, he tried time after time to make a touchdown throw from wherever he was on the field, and yesterday he failed to throw a touchdown all afternoon.
The inaccuracy I feel is getting overblown. He happened to throw a lot of those deep passes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, where we had the wind against us. I believe he also had an overthrow in either the first or final quarter, where we had the wind at our back. I was just watching on tv, but it seemed to be making a difference in the kickoff department. You know it had to affect vertical passes as well. And the pass to Jarius over the middle was six, and it was really, really close. Their defender doesn’t make a fantastic play and that’s a SportsCenter touchdown pass and the whole game could have gone differently.
Screens and short passing worked against Auburn. Why didn’t we see more of these? I know that Petrino wanted to work the play action. Last week I predicted big games for Childs and Hamilton because of that. But if it’s not working, take what’s there. That’s our specialty. We have enough weapons that can be used in enough ways, that we can ALWAYS exploit a defensive vulnerability. For at least spells yesterday, we didn’t utilize our personnel efficiently. Oh, yeah, we called one screen. Joe took it nearly 70 yards. Hmm.
Chris Gragg is one blocking mofo down the field.
Jason Peacock played a horendous game. He was offsides. He held. He got beat. He got Tyler in trouble several times. I’ve not been impressed with him, but I know some have. Not his finest hour yesterday.
Jake Bequette had his best game of the season yesterday. He beat Bradley Sowell on nearly every freaking play. He didn’t always get to Mackey, because Mackey turns out to be a better version of Jeremiah Masoli, but Jake was continually disruptive. And Bradley Sowell is at LEAST a three-year starter for the Rebels. He takes a lot of crap from Ole Miss fans, but in reality he’s a good lineman.
Did anyone else notice that he and our other ends were in the Ole Miss backfield almost before the ball was snapped on several plays, but we rarely if ever got called for Offsides? They were timing the snap beautifully, and didn’t once pay for it, that I can recall.
Dennis Johnson ran the ball like a beast yesterday. He deserves praise, but there’s not a whole lot of dissection to be done. We got our chunk plays we’ve been looking for, and we WILL see that bear the fruit of play-action touchdowns at some point this year. We were close yesterday.
Still not a great team, but I don’t think the Hogs really deserve all the lumps that are being doled out to them. It was the same script that we followed against Auburn, except we started in a deeper hole, and had less time to put the game away. Neither of those things should be surprising. Nutt drew up the perfect gameplan to get a lead, and he milked the clock for a full four quarters.
We scored on the draw play in the second quarter, and then we came out in the third quarter and kicked a field goal on our first possession to get within seven points. Ole Miss went three and out on THEIR first possession of the second half, and right that second, it was all over but the crying. We were still down on the scoreboard, but there was zero doubt in my mind, in Bobby Petrino’s mind, or in Houston Nutt’s mind, that Arkansas was going to win the game, and most likely win it comfortably. Credit to the Rebel players for not giving up, but at the end of the day, a 29-24 effort nets the same result as a 49-10 effort. Right, Neal?