It didn’t take long for the reality of the previous week to come to life in Fayetteville on Saturday. After a devastating defeat to Toledo seven days ago, Arkansas quickly fell behind and watched a defense get shredded for chunks of yardage at a time. The Red Raiders like to go up tempo, a clash of style and personality with Arkansas and Beilema. If you don’t think there is some bad blood after Arkansas rushed for over 400 yards against Tech on the road last year, just watch, or maybe read an edited version of Kliff Kingsbury’s post game comments.
Arkansas lost at home as a double digit favorite for the second week in a row. The fan base is frustrated, the team injury list is continually growing with significant losses, and the coaching staff is looking befuddled. The highly lauded defensive coordinator Rob Smith of the Razorbacks, who was key to the turnaround of the program last season, seemed to play perfectly into the hands of the Tech offense. There were matchup issues all day. They started the game in what looked like a prevent set and never changed and never succeeded at getting pressure on Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, who went 26/30 for 243 with a touchdown and 2 interceptions, one of which was by Booker T. Washington graduate, Jared Collins. That was one of the few bright spots for the defense who was continually a step behind.
After losing Owasso native Keon Hatcher to a foot injury last week, his replacement, Jared Cornelius suffered a ghastly looking fracture to his left arm on his lone catch early in the game. Arkansas would lose more players on both sides of the ball, a list that will be released later today. It does not bode well for a team who had lost their top running back and receiver going into the game.
Arkansas still managed to control the ball, leading time of possession by a full thirteen minutes and allowing Alex Collins to roll up 170 yards on the ground. For the third week in a row, Quarterback Brandon Allen missed a wide open easy touchdown, something that has become his trademark dating back to last season. The kicking game has even become marginalized, missing attempts in each of the last two weeks that should be converted. Beilema summed it up best by saying, “"I wish I could say something to make everybody feel better -- our fans, our players. We're just not at the point yet where we can not play a perfect game and win." The offense has been effective, but the defense has not allowed for any mistakes to be made, failing to force a single punt on Saturday.
Moving forward, it doesn’t get any easier. Arkansas will head to Arlington, TX this week for the Southwest Classic in a rivalry game with Texas A&M. We know the Aggies like the up tempo style on offense as well, and it could be a long day for the Hogs of the defense cannot make some stops. I would think this will be an intense week of preparation for a team reeling from injuries and bruised egos. As one dejected fan stated walking from the stadium Saturday, “At least we are still undefeated in the SEC.” It will take a much stronger defensive effort against their first SEC opponent in Texas A&M this week for that to remain true.
@jamievarnell (Twitter and Periscope)