FAYETTEVILLE — Georgia rallied with a strong second half to defeat Arkansas 37-10 on Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium before 16,500 fans.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs trailed the Hogs 7-5 at halftime and then fell behind 10-5 early in the third quarter. Then they took control of the game scoring 32 consecutive points.
Here’s five factors in Arkansas losing to the Bulldogs.
Arkansas’ Offense Couldn’t Get Running Game Going
The Georgia defense may be the best in the nation. It completed dominated Arkansas’ attempt to run the football. Rakeem Boyd is one of the best running backs in the nation yet he only managed 21 yards on 11 attempts. Trelon Smith, playing his first game as a Razorback, actually led the team in rushing with six carries for 38 yards. In the game, Arkansas rushed 28 times for 77 yards. That made the team one dimensional. The offensive line didn’t open any big holes in the running game and Sam Pittman noticed.
“Well, I don’t think we did very good,” Pittman said. “Did we go into the game, thinking we were going to go in there and maul Georgia’s defense line? I didn’t think that either. It’s tough sledding, especially on the inside. We knew that coming into the game, but we also felt like we could instead of getting zero and one yard, we felt like we could get two or three and maybe that would open up the edge a little bit, a little bit in the naked passing game, the bootleg passing game. But we never did really dent them running up the middle. We didn’t expect to, like I said, but we did expect to get 2 to 3 to 4 yards in there. We did – I think Rakeem had a 4-yard run in there at some point, but that needed to be a little bit more consistent. I’m sure Coach (Brad) Davis is disappointed in the O-line, as well. But you have to give Georgia credit. They’ve got a very, very good defensive line.”
Pittman talked about Boyd and not having any holes for him.
“Rakeem, it was tough sledding in there,” Pittman said. “He was going to have to make his own for the most part today. We couldn’t move those guys. It wasn’t that they were playing any kind of special defense. They ere just playing their gap and they were hard to move.”
Arkansas’ Turnovers, Blocked Punt
Arkansas had a pick-6 by Eric Stokes with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter and the Bulldogs only leading 20-10 at the time. That pushed it to 27-10. Just prior to that on Arkansas’ previous possession and Georgia leading 13-10 they blocked a George Caratan punt. Georgia scored four plays later to take a 20-10 lead. Following those two turnovers on Arkansas’ next possession they tried a flea flicker with Treylon Burks passing and it too was interceped. Georgia went on to score and take a commanding 34-10 lead.
“The blocked punt, the guy just ran right in the middle of our wedge and blocked the punt, from what I saw,” Pittman said. “Now, I may be wrong, but I think they had two guys running right in the A-gaps of the wedge and went through there and blocked a punt. I heard talking on the sideline that possibly a guy came off the edge, as well. But they really dented the integrity of the shield and that’s where the punt block came from.”
Pittman talked about the trick plays that resulted in an interception and earlier a safety when a reverse with T.J. Hammonds didn’t work.
“I think they weren’t very good,” Pittman said. “I mean, one of them went for a safety and one of them was a pick, an interception. I don’t know. We’re going to call trick plays. They didn’t work. We practiced them. We thought they were going to work, but they didn’t work. The timing of them? The timing, our offensive coordinator felt like it was time to call them and that’s what he did, and they just didn’t work out. I don’t have a problem with how he called the game or when he called them.”
Arkansas’ Defense Wore Down in Second Half
Arkansas’ defense held Georgia to five points in the first half. They were also stopping the Georgia running game. However Arkansas was playing without several defenders including defensive end Dorian Gerald, who suffered an injury to his foot in the first. Arkansas was already without such key depth players as defensive end Mataio Soli, cornerback Jarques McClellion, safety Myles Mason, cornerback Devin Bush and safety Micahh Smith in addition to others due to various reasons. Pittman talked about the difference in the defense in the second half.
“We were running our defense, playing hard and playing fast,” Pittman said. “Not sure we didn’t get wore out in the second half some. Those plays we were making in the first half seemed like we might have been a half-step behind in the second half. I think they got a little bit stronger and were breaking some tackles. What I think happened though Georgia loosened up the game plan and started throwing the ball outside and throwing it down the middle. They protected well. I’m not sure we changed a lot of things, but they got one open and he made a big play to get them right back in the game right before. The first drive we had we were down there on the 2- or 3-yard line and couldn’t get it in. That would have been a big score for us. I just think our defense played hard and it looked to me like we need to sub a little bit more. We didn’t have enough juice to finish the game.”
Pittman said they will get some of the defenders back this week.
“Yeah, McClellion will be back on Monday and Bush will be back on Monday as well,” Pittman said. ” So – well, no, no, no. McClellion may not be back until the 29th I believe. And Bush will be back Monday. Joe (Foucha) was out a few days. We got him back on Thursday so I’m assuming he’ll get a few more snaps next week.”
Arkansas’ Special Teams Disappointed
Going into the game Arkansas’ special teams were considered one of the strengths of the team. It didn’t turn out that way.
“No, we didn’t play well,” Pittman said. “Going into the game I felt like we could hold our own and possibly win that battle. But they had so many YAC yards on kickoff, on punt. They blocked a punt. So many big plays and you would think we would get the field flipped. They would get it back out to the 45 or 50 on us and again we played in a hole the entire first half. So I elected to take the wind to start the third quarter and it seemed to workout early because we had a good drive going down there. I was concerned about kicking off and not getting the ball in the end zone and then we kicked off and the ball was three feet off the air and the guy returned it 45-50 yards. We’ve got to do a better job, all of us myself included, coaching that and we’ve got to do a better job executing it. Coach (Scott) Fountain had a great game plan going into it. We’ve just got to coach better and execute better.”
Georgia is Simply Better Team
We can analyze the game and much more, but at the end of the day the better team won the game. Were the Bulldogs 27 points better than the Hogs? Probably not the turnovers and blocked punt plus the safety played a huge role in the game getting away from Arkansas. But Georgia’s defense dominated and didn’t allow Arkansas’ offense much room to operate.