Finally tired of Rio, so I turned over to SEC Network last night just in time to see the last quarter and a half of the Hogs and Bulldogs. A few observations:
Hogs had an 11 point lead and the ball inside of the MSU 30 with less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd qtr … on 3rd and 2, Walker was late to the hole and only got one … on 4th and 1, with no confidence in Hedlund or the OL’s ability to create enough push for Collins or Walker, BA tries to hit a well-covered Henry in the end zone and the pass falls incomplete … MSU takes over and Dak marches the Bulldogs down the field and cuts the lead to 4 with most of the 4th qtr remaining. ARKANSAS MUST IMPROVE SHORT YARDAGE RUN GAME TO TAKE PRESSURE OFF OF AUSTIN ALLEN … hopefully, better FB play will help (we sorely missed Kiero) and I think RWill and Devwah may be better at short yardage because of their quickness to the hole (vs Collins and Walker).
Yes, Dak was a great college QB and may be Tony Romo’s successor for the Cowboy’s one day … but UA’s defensive line against MSU - Wise, Ledbetter, Johnson and Beanum - got absolutely no pressure on the Bulldog QB as they began their comeback, allowing him to pick apart the Arkansas secondary at will … and I don’t recall MSU’s offensive line being as heralded as, say, the Hogs’ O-line. CAN THE SAME PLAYERS WHO STRUGGLED AT PRESSURING OPPOSING QB’S LAST YEAR SUDDENLY BECOME SEC SACK MASTERS? Arkansas won’t be able to just outscore folks in 2016 … issues with the secondary get most of the pub, but its the pass rush that concerns me … bottom line - if the D doesn’t return to 2014 form, it could be a long, long year.
IMHO … if Hogs play D like 2014 (323 ypg) with a solid kicking game and 85-90% of the production of last year’s offense, 8 or 9 regular season wins are doable … a repeat of the 2015 (391 ypg) defensive performance will cause Arkansas to struggle to reach a bowl game.
The key is whether or not the twos in the DL are good enough to create at least some pressure, especially Ramsey, Capps and Agim. If these three new guys can do that the ones will be fresher in the fourth quarter in the second half of the season. It will make a difference. There are just a lot more bodies on defense. A lot more in the DL, at LB and in the secondary.