They are all precious and head coach John L. Smith has the potential to give them away (sometimes with major help from the Coordinators Paul).
For that reason we can’t look down our nose at the Razorbacks’ pedestrian 19-15 Homecoming win over the Tulsa Hurricane at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
What We Saw
–Some of the decisions made by both head coaches (eschewing much-needed field goals, calling plays as if there was no game clock, going for a 2-pt conversion that wasn’t needed) made us feel like we were attending a Bad Coach-Off. The odd final score seemed fitting.
–Arkansas Wide Receiver Cobi Hamilton continued to be a Beacon of Hope in the Ways Dreary Lighted in 2012.
With 11 catches, Hamilton set the Arkansas single season record for receptions (69) passing former teammate and current Minnesota Viking Jarius Wright, who had 66 last season as a senior at Arkansas. The Blog Hawgs Stat Geek will be along in a day or two with a breakdown of where Hamilton could end up across the board in the Arkansas record books.
I won’t steal SG’s Thunder, but let’s just say that if Arkansas somehow wins 2 of its last 3, Hamilton has a chance to leave quite a lasting legacy on The Hill. As for Saturday, I think I was most impressed with Cobi’s workmanlike reaction after making one of the biggest plays of the game–a 41-yard reception to set up a go-ahead, 4th-quarter touchdown.
Hamilton made the grab despite unpenalized interference, got up without any histrionics and went back to the huddle and helped the Hogs finish off the drive.
–It may be a subpar season for the Hogs, but Arkansas PA Announcer John George (of Julie-O Jones fame) was in peak form, Saturday. George and his spotter tabbed Arkansas cornerback Darius Winston as a tackler early in Saturday’s game when it was actually linebacker A.J. Turner.
Winston has been buried on the bench since Texas A&M’s beatdown of the Hogs 5 weeks ago and has one tackle in the last two months, and it didn’t come Saturday. Winston was a Coach’s Decision “Did Not Play”.
–Turner–an undersized but athletic and intuitive linebacker–continued to make strides. He was Arkansas’ 2nd-leading tackler with 7, and delivered a highlight-reel hit in a hole that provided a glimpse at his immense potential.
–It wasn’t pretty, but the Hogs’ defense continued to improve, holding Tulsa to just 328 yards of offense and three second-half points.
Coming into the tilt with the Hogs, Tulsa ranked ninth in the country in rushing offense (248.8 ypg) and had gained at least 200 yards rushing in six of the previous eight games. Arkansas held Tulsa to 106 yards rushing on 36 attempts for a paltry 2.9 yard per carry average.
–Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith had a big game with a 8 tackles, a game-clinching sack, 2 big pass breakups and his 1st career forced fumble. The performance earned Smith Co-SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
What We Didn’t See
A 10-0 lead was not friendly to the Hogs, but that’s nothing new.
Arkansas led Rutgers and Mississippi 10-0 at home before losing 35-26 to the Scarlet Knights and 30-27 to the Rebel Black Bears. Saturday, Arkansas jumped out to a 10-0 lead before falling behind Tulsa 15-13. Arkansas led Auburn 10-0 in the 2nd quarter on The Plains and stalled before scoring two 4th-quarter TDs to pull away from the War Damn Eagle Tigers.
What You May Not Have Seen
–UA senior quarterback Tyler Wilson had a different, but no-less impressive reaction on the 41-yard, 4th-quarter pass to Hamilton. Wilson hung in the pocket despite pressure, and was drilled on a head-hunting hit from a Tulsa defender. As Cobi made the grab and the players for both teams made their way down the field, Wilson let the the defender know who won that battle.
–The announced crowd was 64,451 but it was more of a Home Staying Weekend than a Homecoming Weekend. The pic to the left is an image of the Home Stands 15 minutes before kickoff. The crowd was sparse enough that I was able to get a signal from Reynolds Razorback Stadium lead sponsor AT&T for much of the day–a first.
What We Hope To See Next Week
Arkansas is a big underdog as it prepares for South Carolina next week. But, don’t sleep on the Hogs if they can contain Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Arkansas runningback Dennis Johnson continues his recent surge.
DJ has an outside shot at a 1,000-yard season despite only having 105 carries thus far. If he and the Arkansas offensive line can set the tone and slow USCE’s salty pass rush, Arkansas could nab a road win over a Top 10 team.
The Gamecocks will be without injured, All-Everything running back Marcus Lattimore and at 7-2 and 3rd in the SEC East, have little chance of reaching their lofty preseason goals.
Also, it’s worth noting that Arkansas is 3-0 against USCE the last 3 seasons and has outscored the Gamecocks 33-16 (2009), 41-20 (2010) and 44-28 (2011) in that span. The 41-20 UA win in Columbia in 2010 wasn’t as close as that score. USCe picked up a cheap, late TD on a 1-yard fumble return with 3:52 left in the game.