FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defeated BYU 52-35 on Saturday to allow the team to head into the bye week with some momentum while they try to get some players healed up for the final five games.
This reporter predicted the Hogs would be 4-3 at this point of the season. Now I had them beating Texas A&M and losing to BYU, but still would be 4-3. The key for Arkansas now is some players healthy, particularly in the secondary, and then face Auburn on Oct. 29.
On Friday, a story listed the 5 keys for Arkansas to defeat BYU. Here’s a look back at how the Hogs did on each of those keys.
Don’t Allow BYU to Both Run, Pass at Will
What I Wrote
Mississippi State had its way on offense against the Arkansas defense last Saturday. The Arkansas secondary has been dealing with injuries all season and it only got worse against the Bulldogs. Jalen Catalon and LaDarrius Bishop are out for the season. Myles Slusher didn’t make the trip to Starkville and then both Khari and Jayden Johnson left the game with injuries. The Bulldogs scored 40 points while piling up 568 yards of offense. They rushed for 173 yards and passed for another 395. The Hogs simply can’t let BYU do the same thing which they are capable of doing. BYU is averaging 32 points per game and putting up 417.8 yards of offense each outing. Of that total, 264.3 comes through the air and 153.5 on the ground. The Hogs will have to pressure quarterback Jaren Hall which they didn’t do to Mississippi State’s Will Rogers. Sam Pittman talked about applying pressure to Hall.
“We’re going to have to pressure him because I believe he’ll pick us apart if we don’t,” Pittman said. “We’re going to have to stop the run and then we’ve got to pressure him, because if we don’t, I think he’s really good and a really accurate thrower and his receivers are big. They’re 6-2 and better.”
Arkansas actually passed this key somewhat. Yes they allowed 35 points to a team averaging 32, but they didn’t just allow BYU to dictate the game. Mississippi State did what they wanted when they wanted against the Hogs, but BYU couldn’t do that. BYU had 471 yards of offense which is more than they were averaging (417.8) coming in. But Arkansas did get some stops with Hudson Clark picking off a pass and coming up with an interception as well. BYU helped the Arkansas defense maybe more than the Hogs helped themselves. BYU chose to go for a fourth-and-one play at its own 34 leading 21-17. A fumbled exchange between the center and quarterback resulted Arkansas getting the ball there. The Hogs covered the 34 yards in five plays with KJ Jefferson tossing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers for a 24-21 lead the Razorbacks never surrendered. They BYU coach is known as a gambler, but this gamble backfired on him and the team in a big way.
Cut Down on Penalties
What I Wrote
Arkansas has shot itself in the foot many times this season with penalties. Last week was no different. They had 10 penalties for 84 yards compared to four for 45 by the Bulldogs. That has been similar to many other games this season. It seems odd for a Pittman team to still be committing so many penalties heading into Week 7. Arkansas needs to reduce that number to three or four penalties on Saturday to help its chances of winning.
The Razorbacks had seven for 98 yards with most of those being pass interference calls. BYU had four penalties for 50 yards. The Hogs did reduce the penalties by three from the Mississippi State game though the yards increased by 14. However, given the fact Arkansas was missing five defensive backs entering the game and then lost cornerback Malik Chavis who got his bell rung it’s hard to be too harsh on Arkansas for the pass interference calls. The one on Chavis before he left the game was very questionable as was the same call on BYU later in the game. It seemed like both were good no calls. Seven penalties is still too many, but once again given how short the Hogs are in the secondary hard to not understand the pass interference calls.
Improve Red Zone Production
What I Wrote
Arkansas had three trips to the red zone on Saturday and came away with one touchdown. Two times they came up empty and that will only lead to get them getting blown out on Saturday if those stats continue. Getting KJ Jefferson back will help, but they have had their issues even when Jefferson was in the game at times. They have to at least come away with three points in the red zone while obviously six is much preferred. But empty possessions two of the three times leads to the other team taking an easy win.
The Hogs definitely passed this key with flying colors. Seven trips to the BYU red zone resulted in five touchdowns and a Cam Little field goal. Sam Pittman will take that production each time. Rocket Sanders scored on a 16-yard run. Jefferson found tight end Trey Knox for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Little booted a 34-yard field goal. As noted earlier, Jefferson found Landers for a 4-yard touchdown. Jefferson passed 15 yards to running back Rashod Dubinion for a touchdown. Jefferson also had a 5-yard touchdown pass to Landers.
Win the Turnover Battle
What I Wrote
Arkansas had numerous chances to pick off Rogers last Saturday and they came up empty. The defensive backs and linebacker had their hands on balls and didn’t haul them in. If they get a chance to pick off a pass they need to capitalize on it. Also, the Arkansas offense needs to play a clean game and not turn the ball over. They had two interceptions against the Bulldogs. Jefferson has only thrown one interception all year and that bounced off a receiver’s hands and should have been a completion. But Jefferson and the running backs have had issues with fumbles at times. Arkansas needs to create some turnovers and not commit them on Saturday.
The Razorbacks did indeed win the turnover battle. Arkansas lost one fumble in the game. BYU had two fumbles and an interception. Arkansas scored 14 points off turnovers while BYU came up empty with the one turnover they got.
Have Success Running the Football
What I Wrote
Rocket Sanders leads the SEC in rushing and is having a very good season. Notre Dame ran on BYU and the Hogs need to do the same. If Arkansas can run the ball and have success that will also help open up the passing game. A good balanced offense should allow the Hogs to put points on the scoreboard, keep the defense on the sidelines allowing them to get some rest in the altitude in Provo and also keep the crowd out of the game.
Arkansas rushed for 277 yards so they definitely passed this key as well. Sanders had 15 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns. AJ Green also had a good game rushing 11 times for 51 yards and catching two passes for 45 yards. Jefferson had 10 carries for 32 yards as well. The Hogs also passed for 367 yards in the game.