Hogs Roll Over Georgia
The Razorbacks lost again Saturday night. It’s becoming a habit. But Tyler Wilson played. Wasn’t that supposed to mean Arkansas was going to hand out a 52-0 beatdown of their own?
The offense definitely had it’s chances. A touchdown pass to Mekale McKay was slightly underthrown and slipped through his hands to fall incomplete. Another pass was thrown into the end zone and intercepted.
In saying this, I am long past feeling like a broken record, but the real problem was the defense. The offense can only make plays if the defense can get the opponents offense off the field, and that hasn’t been happening.
Rutgers time of possession Saturday night was 39:02, and as is often true, the team that controls the clock, controls the score.
In addition, the Scarlet Knights were 5 of 15 on third down conversions and 1 of 1 on fourth down conversions, which actually isn’t as bad as it seemed when I was sitting in the stands trying to will the defense to get a stop.
The real killer is that all but one of these conversions led to a touchdown. That lone exception came when the game clock finally ticked down to zero and the drive was ended by the final sound of the referees whistle.
One Rutgers drive was extended three times by three third down conversions. The week before, an Alabama drive was extended by third down conversions four times. At one point, Alabama was in a third down and 14 situation, and rushed for 15 yards.
The stated focus for the defense this year has been to stop the run. In the Southeastern Conference, being able to stop the run is definitely important, but a team can’t just completely abandon passing defense.
Before the game, I heard the playing style of Rutgers being compared to that of Alabama, meaning that if the Scarlet Knights were going to beat the Razorbacks, they were supposed to do it on the ground, or at the least, with a balanced attack.
Sixteen of Rutgers’ 26 first downs were completed through the air. The Scarlet Knights had 397 passing yards, three times as many as they managed on the ground.
It does not matter if Tyler Wilson throws a touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton on every Arkansas drive if the defense can’t keep the other team from scoring. The only way the Razorback defense has found to get off the field is to give up points, and that will not win football games.
During the SEC’s run of six consecutive BCS national titles, the winning team has been ranked outside of the top seven in total defense only twice. If Arkansas ever wants to have a chance at a national title, a conference title or even a winning season the defense must improve.
Haley Markle is the assistant sports editor for The Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Monday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.