Aggie game played out about as I feared . . .

I posted here last week that I had a couple of fears going into the game. One was specific; the other more of a general concern.

I worried that, after two years of outplaying A&M (only to fritter the game away at the end), if this year’s version of the game might be one in which the Aggies forged ahead. Could we/would we be able to rally - as the Aggies have the last two years - if that’s how this one played out? Turns out, that is the game we got; and the answer was that on this day, at least, we could not come back late. Perhaps we’d have been able to had we not totally collapsed defensively in the fourth quarter. But the bottom line is that we weren’t able to turn things around.

The other key - and this (unfortunately) was right on the money - was that we’d live or die with our ability to contain the QB run. Obviously, this was a game with a lot of different aspects to it - turnovers, missed scoring opportunities, failure to convert short yardage plays, penalties, etc. However, I still believe that if we had not allowed Knight to pop those first two long TD runs, we’d probably have won the game.

At that point, we were controlling the game. A&M had shown that they could move the ball some, but had not been able to maintain a drive consistently enough to get any points. We had the lead in statistics, time of possession and we’d have been up 2 TD’s (or so) at half time. That would not guarantee a win; but it would have put us in a good place - we’re a team that needs to play with confidence, and we’d shown plenty. Clearly, we had other opportunities to add to our lead, with or without the QB runs, and we were not able to capitalize on them. But the QB runs kept them in it. In a game that felt like Arkansas should have been up 14 points on them, it was even going into the second half. We probably could have weathered the storm if we’d have had a little bit of that house money we should have been playing with.

The two major disappointments I have coming out of the game is the failure of our offense (and I put this primarily on the OL) to convert short yardage situations; particularly, near the goal line. This was an area where we excelled the last two years (once we got it going), and it is an imperative for the type of physical game that is Bielema’s brand. Failure after having a first and goal at the 2 almost lost the TCU game for us, and it contributed greatly to our loss to the Aggies.

The second thing that really bothered me was that, to my admittedly untrained eye, it appeared that a few of our defenders were just going through the motions as if it were practice, after they hit us in the mouth with that long scoring pass. I didn’t pay close enough attention (I was pretty disgusted and so didn’t feel like rewinding and watching in slow-mo) to call individuals out here, and probably wouldn’t even if I had made a list of them. But, pretty clearly, the defensive intensity and effort just wasn’t there in the fourth quarter. That was pretty obvious, and it’s a major disappointment to me.

I was relieved to see that CBB addressed it in his Sunday comments to the press. I will add that it is a teaching opportunity for our players, who aren’t used to starting out fast and being a ranked team. Part of being in that position is understanding how to handle adversity and setbacks. It’s different when you’re the ranked team than it is when you’re the underdog chasing a group of ranked teams. I’m confident Bielema and his staff will use the moment to help their team handle it better then next time they find themselves in a similar position.

On to next week and re-building our confidence for Bama.

I agree that QB run was THE plays in the game. I think everyone on both sides knew that coming in, yet there are so many things to stop with a good offense. The thing that also happened is that Knight improved his passing by a big margin in the second half. That was a problem, too. He was much more accurate in the second half. Still, you don’t score from inside the 2-yard line over and over, it will get you beat, too. I think this offense can come behind with the passing game. But you still have to convert from inside the 2-yard line after getting the ball down there with passing.

Many of your points that you wrote about were the things that I wrote about on Tuesday after practice, stopping the QB run.

Clay, how much does fatigue play into our LB and Dback play? We obviously had problems elsewhere. The depth (experience) can be improved this week a bit. We still have not seen the rotation of LB back ups even against Texas State, which is upsetting to me. Greenlaw and Ellis can’t play that many snaps and be effective in the 4th quarter. The secondary took a big hit with losing richardson and Tutt, but it got much worse when Coley was ejected. Are there some decent options in the secondary that can be played a lot against Alcorn?

Wiz, that was a very good observation and correct even with an untrained eye.
Kudos to you, for being one of the 1st posters to agree with CBB’s post game comments about the lack of effort in the 4th quarter, especially on defense.

I will add that those QB runs were a mix of being out schemed by spreading us out wide in the secondary and out of position LB’s chasing personell in coverage. Give the 1st one to aTm for drawing up a great play, the other ones are on us to keep falling for it. Either it wasn’t countered by the coaches properly and passed on to our defense or it was countered and the defense didn’t recognize and bit on it anyway, only the players and Robb Smith can explain that.

Mental break downs let the game get away from us and maybe the offense’s inability to score on the goal line so many times may have led to some discouragement on our defense.

I hate to reference this, because the order of magnitude was about 100 times greater . . . but the long pass that Knight hit kind of reminded me of the Street to Peschel pass in that both guys could scarcely hit the side of the proverbial barn for most of the game; but at THE key point in the ball game, they both launched PERFECT long passes that exploded in our face and were - in essence - knock out punches. Our defense played as if it were “concussed” the remainder of the game. And, Knight’s confidence was at a higher level thereafter; his play reflected it.