Five Keys Review
1. Protect Tyler Wilson
Arkansas’ line — which included a new starter in guard Luke Charpentier — got off to a bad start when Wilson was sacked on the first play from scrimmage. But the senior got up from the hit and there was a sigh of relief from the crowd in Razorback Stadium. Wilson was sacked once and hit several other times Saturday night, but remained on the field to guide Arkansas’ late comeback attempt in the 35-26 loss.
Wilson said he felt fine, physically, after the game despite the hits. It was another story emotionally after the Razorbacks fell to 1-3 to start the season.
2. Eliminate Turnovers
Arkansas couldn’t stay turnover free Saturday and it played a big role in the loss once again. There were no lost fumbles, but quarterback Tyler Wilson threw two interceptions. It included a costly pick in the end zone with Arkansas trailing 28-13.
Arkansas punt returner Nate Holmes had a shaky night, muffing two punts. The freshman recovered the ball on both miscues, but left the Hogs with some questions.
The Razorbacks’ 12 turnovers is tied for the second-highest number in the nation.
3. Keep Jamison Contained
The Razorbacks did a solid job of stopping the Rutgers run game throughout most of the game. The pass defense – which surrendered 397 yards – was another story.
Running back Jawan Jamison did top the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game (128 yards on 33 carries) and got most of it in the fourth quarter (76 yards) with Rutgers trying to protect its lead. Arkansas’ most glaring run game mistake came in the final minutes, when Jamison was pinned in the end zone for what looked like a safety. But he escaped and the 24-yard run sealed Arkansas’ fate.
4. Run the Ball
Arkansas looked determined to run the ball throughout the first half, but didn’t have many promising results Saturday. In the end, the Razorbacks finished with just 73 rushing yards with Dennis Johnson leading the way (47 yards).
Most frustrating to Arkansas was its inability to pick up yards in short-yardage situations Saturday. An example: Arkansas was stuffed on a fourth-and-2 play from the Rutgers 24 in the first quarter, when Knile Davis had nowhere to run.
Davis finished with 17 yards on 10 carries, averaging 1.7 yards an attempt.
5. No Special Gaffes
Special teams blunders didn’t cost Arkansas on Saturday. Holmes did have the two muffed punts, but got on top of each one to avoid damage. Zack Hocker had a solid night, booting each of his kickoffs into the end zone and going 2-for-2 on field goals. Dylan Breeding was equally impressive, averaging 49.2 yards on punts. It included a 51-yarder late in the game, which pinned Rutgers at the 1 and gave the Hogs a chance during a game in which they trailed by nine.
Players of the Game
Offense – WR Cobi Hamilton (10 catches, 303 yards, 3 TDs)
Paul Petrino urged players to will Arkansas to a win Saturday. Receiver Cobi Hamilton nearly accomplished it with his record-setting night. Hamilton broke the SEC’s single-game receiving record, pulling in 303 receiving yards. It included the 80-yard touchdown run on a crossing pattern, which helped Arkansas pull to within 28-26 after trailing by 15 points. Hamilton said he would’ve traded the big yards for the win, but the reality is this: Arkansas wouldn’t have come close without his night.
Defense – Alonzo Highsmith (15 tackles, 2 tackles for losses)
It’s hard to award anyone on Arkansas’ defense once again, but Highsmith gets the nod this week. He started at middle linebacker in place of Tenarius Wright, who slid down to defensive end, and finished with a team-high 15 tackles. Highsmith looked more active than he had been at the weakside spot. Arkansas is hoping it will help a defense carving out its place among the nation’s worst so far this season.
Special Teams – P Dylan Breeding (6 punts, 49.2 yards an attempt)
Breeding, once again, did his job on special teams. The senior averaged 49.2 yards on six punts and pinned the ball inside the 20 three times. It included a career-best, 72-yard punt at the end of the first half. The ball rolled and rolled as time expired.
0 — Wins against Football Bowl Subdivision teams after the first month of the season. Arkansas’ only win so far came in the season opener against Jacksonville State, which is a Football Championship Subdivision program.
1 — Receiver Cobi Hamilton’s rank among SEC receivers in yards a game (107.2) after four weeks. Hamilton, obviously, was boosted by his 303-yard performance in the Rutgers loss. The mark set the SEC’s single-game receiving record.
120 — Arkansas’ rank, among 120 FBS teams, in turnover margin (minus-10). The Razorbacks committed two turnovers and forced none in Saturday’s loss to Rutgers. Arkansas has not forced a turnover in 10 quarters, dating back to the ULM loss.
458.8 – Yards allowed a game by Arkansas’ defense, which ranks 99th in the nation. It includes a pass defense that is surrendering 312.2 yards, which ranks 111th. The Razorbacks are off to one of their worst starts defensively in school history.
Arkansas step back into Southeastern Conference play and hits the road for the first time this season Saturday. The Razorbacks will play at Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1 in SEC) for the first time since 1991, when the schools were Southwest Conference rivals.
The Aggies are looking for their first SEC win since joining the conference this summer. Texas A&M came close in a 20-17 loss to Florida earlier this month.
Texas A&M, in its first season under new coach Kevin Sumlin, also is looking to snap a three-game losing streak to Arkansas. The Razorbacks were 3-0 against the Aggies in the Southwest Classic in Cowboys Stadium. It included last season’s 42-38 win, when Arkansas rallied from a 35-17 halftime deficit to beat the Aggies.
“We fought. That’s what I’m proud of. We gave it a fight. Did we do everything right? No. But we fought. We fought. And that’s a starting point. We’ve got to move forward and execute now.” — Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau