On Friday, I wrote a story listing the five keys to Arkansas getting an upset over No. 2 Georgia.
And make no mistake if Arkansas had won it would have been an upset. Beating Texas and Texas A&M was no upset, Arkansas was better than both of them. The Hogs aren’t better than either Georgia or Alabama at this stage of Sam Pittman’s rebuilding.
Here’s the 5 keys I listed and how Arkansas did in each.
Take The Crowd Out of Game Early
It’s important for Arkansas to take the fight to Georgia early and not allow the crowd to get into the game. Make this a four-quarter game and the Hogs have a good shot at getting out of town with a win. The longer the Hogs stay in the game the confidence will grow. It also helps silence the fans some.
The Result: Arkansas was behind 21-0 in the first quarter so obviously what the Hogs needed to happen didn’t happen.
Cut Out Penalties in Red Zone
A penalty in the red zone has cost Arkansas dearly the past two weeks. Against Georgia Southern Ketron Jackson thought he had caught a touchdown pass from KJ Jefferson, but it was called back due to a lineman down the field. On Saturday, Arkansas was on the A&M one only to have a lineman jump. It pushed the ball back to the six and the Hogs had to settle for a field goal. There was some complaining from the Arkansas bench on Saturday the A&M linebackers were clapping and forced the Arkansas player to jump. But if the officials don’t call it then it’s just something you have to live with and try to correct or prepare for possibly happening again.
The Result: Arkansas didn’t cut out penalties at all. They finished with 13 penalties for 100 yards. On one play the Bulldogs had three options to choose from. Arkansas had no chance to have success getting penalized this much.
Play a Clean Game on Offense
Don’t turn the ball over. Arkansas has done a good job in the first four games of not turning the football over that much. That is a necessity on Saturday in Athens. If Arkansas doesn’t turn the ball over and makes Georgia earn everything that greatly improves the Hogs’ chances of winning the game.
The Result: Arkansas probably did better in this area than anything else, but they didn’t have any success moving the football. So playing clean football probably only prevented to score from being worse. 162 yards of total offense won’t win any games no matter how clean you play.
Don’t Give Up Big Plays
Barry Odom’s defense has been good in this regard. They allowed Isaiah Spiller to get loose once for a long run on Saturday and the previous week they allowed the Georgia Southern quarterback to score on a long run. Other than those two runs, Arkansas has been very good in that regard. Rice hit on a long pass, but for the most part the secondary has prevented the big plays. If Odom’s defense continues to play like they have the first four games the Hogs should be in this game until the end.
The Result: It wasn’t the big plays that hurt the Arkansas defense. It was the fact they couldn’t even slow down the Georgia running game. The Bulldogs rushed for 273 yards and averaged 4.8 per attempt. When a team is running the ball with that much success a big play isn’t as big a deal.
Make Special Teams Special
Other than a blocked punt against Rice the special teams have been outstanding. Word from a source at Georgia is the Bulldogs have spotted something in Arkansas’ punting game that makes them feel they can block a punt this week. Arkansas can’t afford for that to happen. Cam Little has been great on his kicks, Vito Calvaruso has been excellent on kickoffs and Bauer has been good punting the majority of the time. Just make sure special teams are special and that will greatly help Hogs’ chances of moving to 5-0.
The Result: The Bulldogs spotted something and then went out there and executed it. They got their third touchdown on the blocked punt. Little missed his only field goal attempt. Arkansas’ kickoff return team gave them bad field position twice in a row in the first quarter. Special teams were very not so special on this day.