Here's why I'm concerned about the outcome Saturday

Let me start by saying that I view this as a very even match-up of comparably talented and well-coached teams of different philosophies and styles, that ought to produce a very entertaining game.

That said, I’m a little worried based on the general “law of averages” concept. Let me explain, if I can.

If the teams played 100 times - or even 10 - things would tend to average out. That is what you see in the results of the simulation models I often post here. But in reality, while each of the individual games that go into the simulation “average” could play out in a given match-up, what we really get is ONE specific game. It doesn’t play like the average (usually); it plays out as that one instance will play out.

The last 2 years, we’ve been relatively even teams (with A%M peaking early in their season, then fading; and us, the other way around) meeting at a cross-roads game for both teams’ seasons. In those games, we have ‘beaten’ the Aggies, yet lost the game. By that, I mean that for 55 minutes, we were not only the better team playing the better game, but clearly the better team. Of course, we all know that we went on to blow (not lose, but ‘blow’) both games. So, we, in essence, squandered two “wins”.

This is kind of the same mentality I have when watching an individual game in which we dominate - but, due to penalties, turnovers, dropped passes or whatever, don’t cash in on the scoreboard. Everyone watching the game may know that we should be ahead 20 or 30 points, but if we are only ahead by, say, 13-6 (when it could easily have been 31-6), the reality is that the other team is one play from a tie, whether they “deserve” it or not. In this case, we “deserve” to be 2-0 or at the VERY least, 1-1 the past two games; but the reality is that we’re 0-2.

Now, it may be (by the randomness of what game among the many that could play out) that a game evolves in which the Aggies have the better effort. If so, by definition, you’d expect them win (as we should have the last two years). We can’t be expected to play better than a team roughly the same talent level as we are every year. We have played better two years in a row, and have nothing to show for it. Can we do it three years in a row - and hold on this time? That’s certainly a decent possibility, but I wonder if the Aggies may not come out with a better start this time around. If they do, how will WE respond coming from behind?

To me, beyond the obvious (turnovers, which are ALWAYS the most important factor in who wins a reasonably even match), the key will be our ability to contain their QB on runs. I believe we can keep their backs from controlling the ball on us. And, I don’t think Knight will shred us passing if we put him in obvious passing downs enough times. But, if he can convert those third and long into first downs with his feet, I do worry about us scoring enough to keep up with what they will post. There are always many keys, not just one. But this is the one I think will decide this game. If we can control Knight running, I give us a good chance of winning. Otherwise, I fear that we’ll be in trouble.

I don’t buy that Arkansas can’t come back. Austin Allen led a comeback in the last 2:05 at TCU. Not only did he get the Hogs a touchdown, he got them a two-point play, too. That’s evidence of the same type of comeback you outlined that A&M has mounted. It can work both ways. We’ve seen it.

What I know is that every team is different from year to year. The biggest difference in the teams from one year to the next would be at QB. Austin Allen has shown an ability to win games already. We do know that Trevor Knight has lost games, too. It’s the reason he ultimately had to leave Oklahoma.

I agree that the key will be our ability to contain their QB on runs. He is big and fast.

I have a few other thoughts
We have played 3 Spread HUNH teams that are very fast
We have developed a good comfort with substituting and speed of play
We will not be shocked by the speed of play
We are going to have a hard time passing quick enough to keep their DE’s from having time to get to AA
We are going to be relegated to a short passing game
We have a better defense this year
We are playing better early this year
We will probably play Ramsey a lot in the Jack role where he has flexibility to DE rush or LB cover
A&M has NOT played anybody like us
They are accustomed to HUNH opponents - How does the QB handle panic from reduced # of possessions?
A&M is not accustomed to our run pass options in play action
A&M has played teams just like them, so it has affected their preparation
A&M has found their run game but it is based on spread reads.
A&M has found their run DEFENSE but it is against spread teams
A&M’s LBs and safeties have their hands full with a completely different offense that is also a threat to pass.

Not really anything there for you to buy, Clay. I neither said, nor implied, that “Arkansas can’t come back”. I did wonder aloud “. . . if the Aggies may not come out with a better start this time around. If they do, how will WE respond coming from behind?”. This (us having to come from behind after trailing virtually the entire game) has not been what we’ve needed to do against the Aggies the past 2 years. I believe it’s reasonable to contemplate how we might react if that’s the type of game we have this season.

As you correctly point out, Austin and our offense did stage a wonderful comeback against TCU, which (IMO) took this Arkansas team to a new level of confidence. That’s a definite plus.

You make a good point - “What I know is that every team is different from year to year.” In the same vein, every game (within a season) is different, from week to week. So, while I do have some optimism due to the comeback that we had against TCU and know we are capable of doing so against A&M if that’s what we need to do, I also know that it’s a totally different type of game than we’ve played against the Aggies in recent years, and I wonder how that might turn out. I don’t believe that’s a condemnation of the Hogs or their ability to win if they fall behind. It’s just honest curiosity.

And, FWIW, I will also take this opportunity to say that Austin has performed (so far) ahead of where I feared he might (and posted here) before the season. Our offense is still a work in progress, but I thought the combination of a virtually new OL and inexperienced QB (in terms of actual playing time) would lead to more early-season mistakes of the type we saw against La Tech (and, yes, I know one of those pics was more a result of a receiver’s pattern than it was Austin) than we have. IMO, it’s MORE important at this stage for him not to make bad plays than it is for him to be a big play-maker. But for us to play at a championship level, the play-making has to be there too. So far, he’s shown that capability as well. So, kudos to AA.

Now, if that OL can just continue to “gel”.

Meanwhile, I see you didn’t comment at all on my primary concern for this game - runs by the Aggie QB. I guess we’ll see your commentary on that soon enough - when you publish your “10 keys to the game” column.

[quote=“HogTreat”]
I agree that the key will be our ability to contain their QB on runs. He is big and fast.

I have a few other thoughts
We have played 3 Spread HUNH teams that are very fast
We have developed a good comfort with substituting and speed of play
We will not be shocked by the speed of play
We have a better defense this year
We are playing better early this year
We will probably play Ramsey a lot in the Jack role where he has flexibility to DE rush or LB cover
A&M has NOT played anybody like us
A&M is not accustomed to our run pass options in play action
A&M has played teams just like them, so it has affected their preparation
A&M’s LBs and safeties have their hands full with a completely different offense that is also a threat to pass.
[/quote]I agree with these…I feel the Hogs will be more ready for the Aggies than they’ll be ready for the Hogs.

My caveat, the Aggies have more big play potential…the Hogs need to play error free and capitalize in the red zone. I think they’re capable of doing this…and staying in the lead.

Knight has been so bad throwing on first downs for the Aggies, it’s bizarre. Freaky bad. Like he’s trying too hard to avoid turnovers. I hope those issues continue. On other downs he has been just fine.

Before the game is played, I find myself concerned about the outcome of every game that we play, and can think of many reasons why (some you listed for this one, some you did not). That’s just part of the excitement leading up to the game. This year, A&M may be better than their current ranking. Are we? Can’t wait to find out!! Come on Saturday night!! WPS!!!

I believe the Hog staff/team wants this game more than any other except Bama. The summer was spent focusing on a new QB, O-line, and secondary but the Ag’s have been upfront in the headlights mentally and physically. If they beat us it will be well earned, no quarter will be given. The last couple of years the nucleus of this team watched A/M literally steal and embarrass them in the process with losses. CBB is confident and so am I. It’s time to put the AG’s in the rearview mirror with a win and get to 5/0 and a date with Bama.

[quote=“WizardofhOgZ”]
Let me start by saying that I view this as a very even match-up of comparably talented and well-coached teams of different philosophies and styles, that ought to produce a very entertaining game.

That said, I’m a little worried based on the general “law of averages” concept. Let me explain, if I can.

If the teams played 100 times - or even 10 - things would tend to average out. That is what you see in the results of the simulation models I often post here. But in reality, while each of the individual games that go into the simulation “average” could play out in a given match-up, what we really get is ONE specific game. It doesn’t play like the average (usually); it plays out as that one instance will play out.

The last 2 years, we’ve been relatively even teams (with A%M peaking early in their season, then fading; and us, the other way around) meeting at a cross-roads game for both teams’ seasons. In those games, we have ‘beaten’ the Aggies, yet lost the game. By that, I mean that for 55 minutes, we were not only the better team playing the better game, but clearly the better team. Of course, we all know that we went on to blow (not lose, but ‘blow’) both games. So, we, in essence, squandered two “wins”.

This is kind of the same mentality I have when watching an individual game in which we dominate - but, due to penalties, turnovers, dropped passes or whatever, don’t cash in on the scoreboard. Everyone watching the game may know that we should be ahead 20 or 30 points, but if we are only ahead by, say, 13-6 (when it could easily have been 31-6), the reality is that the other team is one play from a tie, whether they “deserve” it or not. In this case, we “deserve” to be 2-0 or at the VERY least, 1-1 the past two games; but the reality is that we’re 0-2.

Now, it may be (by the randomness of what game among the many that could play out) that a game evolves in which the Aggies have the better effort. If so, by definition, you’d expect them win (as we should have the last two years). We can’t be expected to play better than a team roughly the same talent level as we are every year. We have played better two years in a row, and have nothing to show for it. Can we do it three years in a row - and hold on this time? That’s certainly a decent possibility, but I wonder if the Aggies may not come out with a better start this time around. If they do, how will WE respond coming from behind?

To me, beyond the obvious (turnovers, which are ALWAYS the most important factor in who wins a reasonably even match, the key will be our ability to contain their QB on runs. I believe we can keep their backs from controlling the ball on us. And, I don’t think Knight will shred us passing if we put him in obvious passing downs enough times. But, if he can convert those third and long into first downs with his feet, I do worry about us scoring enough to keep up with what they will post. There are always many keys, not just one. But this is the one I think will decide this game. If we can control Knight running, I give us a good chance of winning. Otherwise, I fear that we’ll be in trouble.
[/quote] Dude you are obviously really well thought out, but just some unsolicited advice — that somebody had to give me previously — nobody reads that long of a post unless you are a columnist. Take it or leave it and no offense intended.

I read what Super Dave (aka Wiz) has to say. He usually has insightful posts, as you said they are well thought out.

[quote=“BaumbasticHawg”]

I read what Super Dave (aka Wiz) has to say. He usually has insightful posts, as you said they are well thought out.
[/quote] Okay, stand corrected Marty.

I always read what the Wiz posts-- no matter how long the post-- keep it up Wiz

You guys have covered the areas of ‘concern’ really well here, thanks! I am, however, surprised that specials teams hasn’t been mentioned as much. I agree with Wiz that this will be “a very even match-up of comparably talented and well-coached teams of different philosophies and styles”, except in the area of special teams. I know Clay is going to do his 10 keys, but that would be my #1, particularly kicking coverage. I don’t think we can afford spotting the Ags 10-15 yards at the beginning of each position. If our kicking game matches theirs, I think the Hogs win this game, but if they are pinning us back and we are setting them up on every kickoff, it may not turn out so well…

Chaser brought us back to reality. Chaser is correct in my eyes. Field Goal kicking may be a concern with A&M’s front in the red zone, so Mack could disrupt our run game at the goal line.

Well thought out & articulate post, Wiz.

I, too, get worried when people talk about the law of averages. It’s true that luck tends to even out over time, but the gambler’s fallacy–the coin landed tails 8 straight times so the odds improve for heads on the 9th toss–is a hard one to shake. We’re “due” some breaks against the Aggies, but for the most part football games aren’t about chance-breaks. They’re about who will step up & make the play or who will relax at the wrong moment–at least when the talent is relatively equal.

This game concerns me because A&M is good. I think we’re good, too, but since I desperately want us to win & don’t care one bit about the Aggie program, I’m worried. Fortunately, for the first time in a while I’m convinced we’re as good or maybe better than the Ags. Hope I’m right.

Wiz is not related to me, so does not have the Henry genes. I had already written on the Aggie QB and didn’t want to write a long thought on him again. I think Wiz stated the obvious, running QBs are the toughest part for all defenses. The good news is that Arkansas has faced three of them already this season. There should be some learning involved in what to do against them.

Thanks Marty. But, let me say that I am aware of what dm919 stated; many will not read a post that long. This is especially true of younger readers. They are more adapted to a “sound-byte”/Twitter world where you’d better grab their attention within 5 seconds or they are out.

But the thing is, this old dog has not figured out how to adapt to that kind of communication mode. I know one way to express what I think/feel . . . and I understand and accept that it is “too long” or wordy for many. Doesn’t upset me, but neither am I inclined to attempt to change to reach them. As our generation used to say decades ago, “different strokes for different folks”. We all have posters we always read, some we never read, and then “the rest”. The beauty of a board like this is that they ALL continue to post, and we each seek out and read what we want to read.

Kick off coverage may be one the biggest concerns since we rarely get touchbacks, but I’m sure plenty of time has been spent in that area lately. Making clutch FG’s is a must and all from 40 yards and shallower. But,
One part of our kicking game that has been very positive and a great weapon, is our punter who has been lights out so far this year, so I think the we may be the ones pinning back the Aggies.
Big Dan Skipper in the middle can cause any opposing kicker to over think it on FG tries now.
Overall we should match up well in that dept.

I wonder if the last 2 years are an indication of the lack of depth and gradual recovery after the program was left in ruins. 2 years ago we were mentally fragile and didn’t have depth to beat A&M in overtime. Last year we were in a funk after Toledo and TT, and still didn’t have depth to beat A&M in overtime. This is the first year in BB’s tenure that we have had depth in most areas of the Defense to play all 4 quarters…except Linebacker. I want to think that depth is a core issue but will it be what gets us over the hump?

This game puzzles me because of the def line talent at A&M.
I don’t know how good A&M’s Dline really is against a NON spread team, because they can’t just focus on pass rush with us.
I don’t know if their DE’s make the interior Dline look too good by drawing double teams.
Is the Hog Oline gelling as much as we want to think? Is it wishful thinking?
If the Hog Oline is gelling good then we should be able to run straight at their line between the tackles.
If we can run block that helps negate concerns with Froholdt and RT because that is their strength.
Common sense says we will have trouble pass blocking with our inexperience in pass blocking and the talent level of Garrett and Hall.
Our offense hasn’t really played to it’s potential because the Oline has been erratic and held back the production. There is upside for us.

The A&M OLine is somewhat suspect with inexperience but did look OK against AU.
Knight has to escape a lot of pressure because the oline is not protecting like it should. He makes the Oline look better by escaping so many sacks and pressures.
Do we have the depth in the secondary to be fresh in the 4th quarter for the first time in years?
How bad will fatigue set in with our LB’s and will it allow big chunk plays in the 4th qtr like TCU game?

As explanation to my thought on Super Dave (his early name on our site) and his post might confuse. I said he might have the Henry genes, that’s ability to write long. My father wrote VERY long. I’ve been told of late that I have that ability, too, to write “really long.” That comes from some of my editors. The good news, so far no one is cutting my stories. They are still very long. Dave does a nice job and I don’t want anyone to think that was a jab. Just acknowledgement that I’ve been accused of writing long (like my father), but maybe not too well. Ha!