Question for Clay

Do you think our second half failures have anything to do with conditioning? Should Coach B rethink either our conditioning plain or even the coach?

Not Clay, but I don’t think so. In both the Mizzou and VT games, the implosion started immediately after halftime, when we should have been well rested from the break. Perhaps it may have played a small role in the A&M game.

It boils down to our Oline play being subpar and not being able to run the ball. Which leads to poor play by AA in both of the last 2 games in the second half.

Wally Hall hit on something about in game adjustments. I don’t believe we are very good at adjusting on the fly. Also, players got to step up and make a play. Its a ton of plays to be made during the course of a game, but you gotta have the players to make them.

If Wally ever got anything correct, it wasn’t an original thought.

Bill Walsh said offensive football is “Doing what you want to when you want to do it!” First half we are being unpredictable with play selection. Second half we try to become a power team which we are not. Then Momentum changes sides. We are not a mentally tough team. Physically tough yes but we let stuff bother us and affect us.

I think it’s all mental, nothing physical. Going back to the TCU game, this team was apt to go haywire at the first sign of something going wrong. Here are a few turning points I remember:

  • Cole Hedlund’s missed field goal vs. TCU
  • The three misses from the 1-yard line and 92-yard TD pass by Texas A&M
  • The opening-play TD by Auburn
  • The red zone interception, fake punt and long TD pass vs. Missouri
  • Drew Morgan’s fumbles after halftime vs. Virginia Tech

The team obviously came back to beat TCU and Auburn was going to win regardless of whether it scored on the first play. In all of those cases, the team should have been fine physically. Arkansas dominated time of possession the first three quarters vs. TCU and Texas A&M, and the other plays were near the beginning of a half, as Jeff pointed out.

It mostly boils down to poor coaching decisions; these coaches know what to do. They just didn’t get it done. From the players’ standpoint they showed, as they so often have done over the years, a tendency to fold their tents early. So, what needs to be done?

I agree 100% with Matt. Really good teams always have great Jr and Senior leadership and QB leadership. That combination can instill mental confidence in the entire team. If a QB throws a pick 6, if a RB fumbles for an opponents’ score, or if a db gets beat for a TD, those plays are immediately forgotten. The team has confidence and “knows” they are going to go out the next series and make the necessary plays to get those scores back.

The way the season started, it looked like we had those ingredients on this team, with the last minute drives for come behind victories. Then, for some reason, as the season went along, our confidence and mental state began changing. By the end of the season, mistakes by us and/or great plays by our opponents became catastrophic events to our team’s psyche. The QB, and Jr and Sr leadership seemed to disappear. Heads would hang after every mistake by us and every great play by our opponents. Doubts immediately appeared in our minds.

Brandon Sr. year and Austin’s Jr year were exact opposites. Austin’s first half of the season was like Brandon’s last half of his last season.

As Matt said, those last two 2nd half collapses were all mental. Fortunately, that can be corrected more easily than if we were just physically and talent deficient. Now, it is up to the coaching staff to figure how to turn that around.

Odd deal for sure. IMO, I think it points to a lack of leadership on CBB part. I don’t know that for sure obviously, but you can hand over the execution of the offense, defense, and special teams, but the head coach needs to set the tone. He did that his first couple of years but let go of the rope here recently.

I wonder if he got distracted with the ‘off the field’ stuff like being Bret Bielema. Maybe he started believing his own story and took his eye off the ball. Would not be the first coach to do that. I do think CBB is a bit arrogant and full of himself and could absolutely see that happening.

I doubt it was conditioning. The reason I say that is because it happened in the third quarter. You should be rested just after halftime.

I think it comes down to inexperience on offense, especially the offensive line. Now, you can write that off as mental if you want and experience is mental. But I think being able to handle stunts, blitzes and line shifts is what got this offensive line in the second half of the last two games. They couldn’t run it against movement against solid defensive lines, outside of the Ole Miss and Florida games. I don’t consider Miss State’s defensive line to be solid. Virginia Tech’s movements and stunts destroyed the Arkansas front in the second half. So did Missouri.

The strength of the Arkansas passing game is play action. That’s built around a run game. If you can’t run it, the play action pass is not worth a thing. When they ran it, the passing game was easy to see. If there is not running, the protection slipped. Ends and linebackers came more and more, without fear of a running game. That’s what I saw mostly.

Now, in some of the other games, it was defensive failures and a lack of speed scattered through the defense. Losing Dre Greenlaw, Kevin Richardson and having Deatrich Wise at less than full speed were blows. Those were not mental situations, they were physical.

Youth in the offensive line will kill you. It’s the one place that experience is needed, along with quarterback. Austin Allen is a junior, but he hadn’t played. Some things he handled, some things he didn’t.

Drew Morgan’s failures in the bowl game are tough to explain, other than I think he tried too hard. Experience should have told him that is the sure way to fail, although his main strength is that he has always been a try hard guy. You can’t try past the point of being sure with the ball. He dropped a pass and fumbled twice. He was trying to go before he had it on the drop, in my opinion, a try hard play. But it’s something experience should have told him you can’t do. The other two fumbles were fighting for extra yards, something he did, but rarely to the point of losing ball security.

Kind of a reach. TCU belatedly realized we were spread out so much to cover the flanks, they could take advantage of the middle. That wasn’t a lapse; it was a weakness. Before collapsing against the Aggies, Arkansas lost a fumble at A&M’s 43 in the first quarter, had to settle for 3 after reaching the 2 in the second quarter, fumbled at the 1 in the second quarter, and then proceeded to take a 17-10 lead. It was 17-17 when Arkansas failed again at the Aggies’ 1 in the third quarter. That was when the 92-yard TD pass vs. our lame backup CB happened, and that was simply a one-on-one beat against someone who had no business being man to man on Josh Reynolds.

Maybe the collapse was triggered because on its next possession, Arkansas ran Whaley four times in a row, then failed on third and 3 and punted. That was when the Hogs’ defense gave up 85 yards in 2 minutes, then Allen fumbled on a sack (second straight pass, suddenly we were throwing) at own own 15. That was the beginning of our turnover problems this season.

It took a lot of failures before Arkansas broke in the Texas A&M game, not one turning point. We still drove for another touchdown and ended yet another drive inside the Aggies’ 10.

And in the Auburn game, can you really call anything a turning point? Arriving to play the game might have been the turning point. It was our eighth straight game; they were coming off a bye week. We punted or fumbled on our first six possessions. Auburn scored on its first three tries. They kept us on a long field for all of our 13 possessions. This was unlike any other game this season. We got within 21-10 against LSU. Had a pulse for a while. Not at Auburn, not for a second.

I still believe the Missouri + VT losses began with the formation Arkansas was in and the limited adjustments that can be made from our base offense when the defense decides to load up and bring it. When we’re way ahead at half, they know we want to run the football, and they know our possible adjustments are limited (even more so without VT having to worry about Sprinkle and Cornelius). On defense, we ceased getting to the QB; we tried tight coverage and Mizzou ran past us. We went softer, and VT went under us. But our D was only going to be good for a half at best. Offense had to keep scoring for this Arkansas team to win.

Lemme point out one more pattern. Ole Miss, Florida, and Mississippi State were examples of excellent plans and gutsy play. Ole Miss was followed by Auburn. Florida followed by LSU. MSU followed by Missouri.

Could it be that this team went into each of those losses depleted in some way (planning, depth, energy, something) by the effort required to win the previous game? Maybe they couldn’t sustain the emotion required to overcome the talent deficiencies. Could be this team was only going to be “so” good.

thats great post RR

I’ve said it over and over, it was in the offensive line, primarily. Against the teams with better ability to rush the passer and play defense, the Hogs struggled. The exception was Florida and that followed an open date and that’s always a tough spot for a road team. Auburn had an open date to prepare for a road team that had played a long string of games without any break. If you can’t run the ball, you are going to struggle against the better teams. Austin Allen got hit more against those teams. If you can’t run it, you can’t run play action. If teams are not scared of the run, they aren’t going to worry about fakes. They are playing pass, rushing the passer and covering. That’s what I saw.

Now some of that other stuff Randy wrote about has merit. But it all becomes easier if you are good (and experienced) in the offensive line. How many 1-yard gains were there against Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Missouri and Virginia Tech? I don’t think Missouri was good overall on defense, but they had a few good defensive linemen (especially at end) and made plays to stop the run in the second half.

Have to agree with Clay. You have to be able to run the ball and to do that requires Oline play regardless of formation or play called. We could not run it in from very close time after time against A&M. We lost. That whole game, I kept thinking we have to be able to run more than a yd. We couldn’t. Austin and receivers made some great plays to keep us in it for awhile, but finally that broke and Austin nearly got killed.

We could not run in the second half against MO. Should never happen, but it did. We could get to the 10, but could not put it in becasue the Oline could not block the bottom team in the SEC.

We were up against VT at half. My wife said, “This is fun again.” I said I think we lose, unless VT helps us with a break. She said why. I said we have not ran the ball all game. That will catch up with you.

Better fix the Oline first and foremost. I saw the same thing with the Denver Broncos this this year (and they have a great D). They had a poor Oline and could not run the ball. The defenses learned that and Teed off on the QB. Boom, game and season over.

It all starts with an Oline. Then with a Dline and Lbackers. Better get that fixed and fixed very, very soon!!

OL has no chance when Va Tech stacked the box. Much of the 2nd half you could see all 11 in the TV shot. Sprinkle, the blocker, was missed more than Sprinkle, the receiver.

The OL needed help - Sprinkle was gone. We tried the wildcat and it was a bust (so much for deception and outside speed helping). We had the jet sweep to Stewart but in the second half that would have been a disaster waiting to happen. Needed the more physical Cornelius (Morgan and Hatcher aren’t fast enough to hit the corner, but Cornelius might be). Or, it wouldn’t have mattered because they had an extra man at the LOS virtually every play.

Reed’s appearances tipped off a good defense: either the bubble screen or a deep route, making it easy to defend.

I will return to my conclusion of a few days ago: given time, Enos and Co can script a good offense. We often started hot (more often than not, in fact), but eventually the script quits working. DCs adapt or the script begins being predictive based on personnel. Adjustments were often a failure because the time to rep the exact tweak didn’t exist. Give the staff a week (or a month) and we’re in business. Give them 3 minutes on the sideline and the players couldn’t adapt. Plus, scripting allows you to hide tendencies but eventually they appear. You trot certain players on the field (and often together) you are tipping your hand.

And, we don’t know what the hot reads might be or the checkdowns/audibles. They had to be simple but they may have been easily figured out.

Yes, you can scheme it for a bit, but eventually it comes down to whether or not you can block it. Veteran linemen can make adjustments. Rookies can’t. You look out there and there is Brian Wallace, Johnny Gibson and Hjalte Froholdt. Those are what I’d call rookies as far as game experience in the offensive line. They won’t be rookies next year. Everything will slow down. They’ll know what they are seeing because mostly they’ve seen it before. Another spring with Anderson will help. Another August will help. Two more sessions with Herbert in the weight room will help. It’s all about the O-line. The teams that have solid offensive lines roll. Nothing ever changes in that regard, and it doesn’t matter the scheme. Run the ball and you can win. Run the ball and you can protect the quarterback. They aren’t playing pass.

The defense improves when your offense can run the ball. It’s two-fold. First, the clock runs and you sit on the sideline. Second, you get a good test in practice and you learn how to play against the run. This defense didn’t have that. The run was tough to stop. They hadn’t seen good running in practice.

Like Jim said, get that fixed and everything else changes. But, they must get it fixed.

Then, I add to that, get more speed on defense. Get better tacklers at linebacker and safety. Dre Greenlaw is part of the answer. So is Kevin Richardson. But they need more. They need more linebackers.