The stage is set. It’s the Arkansas Razorbacks vs Samford Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Join us today as Jim Harris tracks the action on the field from War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The Arkansas Razorbacks vs Samford Bulldogs.
The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Sept. 7, 2013, and is televised on pay per view. Details on how to get the game are available by clicking this link.
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9:13 p.m. — One last thing, please catch the Two Minute Drill on the website in a few minutes for the full stat and game rundown, readable in two minutes.
9:08 p.m. 31-21 Arkansas, final — The Hogs ate up the last six-plus minutes all on the ground to polish off a 10-point win.
Saturday night marked the first time in school history that two backs had gone over 100 yards rushing in the first two games of the season.
Samford deserves all the credit in the world for keeping the game within 10 points. The Bulldogs are well-coached and played a smart, risk-free game while attacking the Hogs’ obvious weak spots in the defense.
The good news for Arkansas is that some of those weak spots improved as the game went on, proven by the back-to-back three-and-outs the defense pitched after the Hogs regained the lead for good with 13 minutes to play.
It wasn’t pretty, but that doesn’t matter. Arkansas moves to 2-0 and Samford should have a good season in FCS as the Bulldogs are a strong 1-1 after two weeks. Sure beats 0-12 of last year. Samford is much better than that.
Alex Collins showed as the game went on that he is the real deal, and the O-line finally wore down Samford’s front.
So, we move on to Fayetteville and a matchup with Southern Miss next week, with an 11:25 kickoff. Catch the blog again next Saturday.
8:54 p.m. 31-21 Hogs — Collins has just taken over, and like a great back he’s gotten better as the game moves on. There’s 14 more yards right up the middle.
8:53 p.m. 31-21 Arkansas — Another three-and-out pitched by the defense after a shake second and third quarters. Arkansas starts after a punt at the 26 again with 7:35 to play. The Hogs will be running the football.
Jonathan Williams also has topped 100 yards for the second straight week. He has 103.
Still 9:04 to play in the game. Arkansas defense needs to not have that letdown that could come after the offense has reestablished its 10-point edge.
8:47 p.m., 31-21 Hogs — Alex Collins scores his first touchdown as a Hog on a 2-yard blast, standing up. Collins then gets his first “celebration” penalty to boot because he went up to the stands along with teammates pushing him after the score. That is a joke of a call. Count on the SEC officials to make it, though.
Collins has become the first freshman in Arkansas history to rush for more than 100 yards in his first two games. He has 150 yards.
8:44 p.m. — Alex Collins showing us the speed the and moves to put the Hogs in the red zone. A 55-yard run, his longest so far as a Razorback.
8:43 p.m. 24-21 Arkansas — Samford still hasn’t turned the ball over, and Arkansas can’t afford another one on top of the 2 it already has. The Hogs aren’t going to be anybody with a minus-3 turnover margin. Anybody. Not even Samford.
8:39 p.m. — Outstanding play by linebacker Braylon Mitchell on the swing screen pass to the left flat that, with Brandon Lewis’ tackle, stopped the Bulldogs drive in three plays at the Bulldogs’ 36. That was the quickest read on a key play that I’ve seen from the UA linebackers.
Arkansas takes over after the punt at its 26.
8:37 p.m. — Not sure I’ve seen such a line-drive kickoff like the one Hocker just hit. Talk about outkicking your coverage. Truss is able to take it back out to the 31. Arkansas’ maligned defense is now on the clock.
8:33 p.m. 24-21 Hogs — Arkansas pounds it three straight plays, the first two by Alex Collins, to take care of those last 26 yards. Jonathan Williams bangs 1 yard over the center for the score and the Hogs regain the lead with 13:38 to play.
Collins sprinted 21 yards through left end on the first snap of the fourth quarter, then powered 4 more yards to set up the score.
Arkansas had not managed a first down in the second half until this latest drive of 75 yards in 14 plays, keyed by the 11-yard pass to start it to Horton.
Official attendance is called 47,358 here at War Memorial Stadium, or about 7,500 under capacity. I don’t know if I see 7,500 empty seats though. I’m surprised it wasn’t called more than 50,000, as generous as the attendance totals are at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
8:30 p.m. 21-17 Samford, start of fourth — Brandon Allen finally chose a receiver other than Javontee Herndon or a tight end to throw to, and it has finally moved the chains in the second half for the Hogs and get them out of a hole. He found an open Julian Horton for an 11-yard gain that opened up some running room for Alex Collins and the running game.
But Allen should have looked for Horton again when the UA coaches opened up the trick-play bag. On a flea-flicker, Allen had his mind set on Herndon running a post, but he was tightly double covered. On the left side, Horton was running free deep with a lone defender trailing him near the 20. Might have been a touchdown there; it was an incompletion intended for Herndon.
Allen kept the drive going though but finding Hunter Henry for a first down with a low throw that the tight end managed to pull in at the 28.
As we move into the fourth quarter, Arkansas has it second-and-8 at the Samford 26.
8:19 p.m. 21-17 Samford — Eventually, folks will figure out Brandon Allen is looking first to Javontee Herndon. Samford has figured it out, I mean.
8:16 p.m. 21-17 Samford — Fabian Truss, the one guy Arkansas had to stop for the Bulldogs, rips 16 yards right through the middle, and barely even grazed by the strong safety, Alan Turner, to put the Bulldogs ahead. Yes, Samford is ahead.
On the previous play, any semblance of discipline on this defense evaporated when Tevin Mitchel, on the far side of the field, was flagged for a personal foul to keep the Bulldogs’ drive alive after it looked stopped.
Samford covered 50 yards in six plays.
8:13 p.m. — Scratch that; Samford can’t run a screen pass all game. Hogs make a good defensive call and DB Will Hines is in on the play to stop it.
8:12 p.m. — Samford could throw screen passes all game as deep as the linebackers drop and as poorly as the defensive line reads a screen in the works. First down and the Bulldogs get 8 on the screen.
8:11 p.m. 17-14 Arkansas — This is starting to look like last year’s ULM game for Brandon Allen. Maybe he’s got bad vibes from last year. Allen on third down and 4 attempted a pass for Loewen with three defenders around him. It was fortunate for Allen it wasn’t picked after being knocked around. Samford starts at the 50 after Hocker, in place of Sam Erwin Hill punts just 35 yards.
8:02 p.m. 17-14 Hogs — Complete and utter loss of focus by the Razorbacks since the midway point of the second quarter, and it’s getting worse. Kody Walker, who didn’t touch the ball at fullback last week, drops a pass that would have been a sure first down.
You have the Williams gaffe with the football, looking more like the running back he was last year with questionable ball security, and the ridiculous fumbled punt in the final minute of the first half that, luckily for Arkansas, didn’t hurt the Hogs.
Now you have Samford startring on its 43 after a line-drive rugby punt and slow coverage downfield by the Hogs’ punt team, turning a 45-yard punt into a net 29-yard punt.
7:55 — 17-14, Hogs — Trey Flowers’ replacement at end, JaMichael Winston, lines up offsides to negate a good first-down stop after Williams fumble.
The strong safety Alan Turner completely blows coverage on a pass in the right flat to set up the Samford touchdown, which is an easy toss to the running back with Braylon Mitchell attempting coverage on him.
All of a sudden, Arkansas is in a fix, only ahead of FCS Samford by 3.
7:52 p.m. 17-7, Hogs — Bad ball security, and Jonathan Williams coughs it up at his own 24. Trey Wesley with the recovery.
7:49 p.m. — A new defensive wrinkle from Arkansas, as the tackles (or specifically Robert Thomas) drop into coverage into the linebacker range with only rush from the ends. Samford throws incomplete, then is forced to take what the Hogs give them on third down, which was the inside lanes on the run. Punt, and Hogs take over at the 19.
Herndon is faircatching punts with a lot of room to run. This particularly punt could have been returned, but then he’s probably thinking about his fumble late in the first half. Arkansas is back to punt-catching, which is certainly a safe approach.
7:46 p.m. — Samford starts on offense on its 25, defending the south goal.
7:39 p.m. 17-7, Hogs, halftime — No one from the UA has been forthcoming on the status of starting defensive end Trey Flowers as well as starting LB Jarrett Lake, other than the situation would be addressed after the game by Coach Bret Bielema. I had to get that via tweet; no notice up here about it. I just happened to notice Flowers didn’t play, but frankly I was more focused on Martrelle Spaight finally playing than Jarrett Lake not.
No doubt, tackle Robert Thomas on the inside has stepped up his game and is not lining up over center tonight, the way he was positioned last week. It’s also helped Byran Jones more to be over center most of the time, though he played the Thomas tackle position when redshirt freshman Darius Philon was in the game. For ends with Flowers out, we’ve seen more of Jamichael Winston, Deatrich Wise Jr., and Brandon Lewis.
At linebacker, senior Austin Jones has been on more plays, it seems, including one play where he shot the gap on the offside and dropped Samford’s runner, Truss, for no gain.
The best you can say about the secondary is that Samford hasn’t gotten anything behind the Hogs. Summerlin is 10 of 14 passing for 65 yards.
7:26 p.m. 17-7, halftime — The quick stat report. Brandon Allen is 7 of 10 for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. Arkansas has 229 yards to Samford’s 129. Samford has avoided turnovers and forced Arkansas to drive long for its scores, as well as pinning the Hogs at their 4 on another possession that was stopped by a severe penalty (offensive pass interference).
Arkansas is averaging nearly 8 yards a play, which is salty by anyone’s standards, though it may not be reflected in the score. Samford has maintained possession for more than 13 minutes, giving Arkansas only four possessions in the first half.
Jonathan Williams has 81 yards rushing on 9 carries for the Hogs.
7:23, 17-7 Hogs, halftime — Well, that play wasn’t going to get Sanford even into field goal range, but Kelsey Pope drops the ball nonetheless before he would have been smacked. That will just about wrap up the half, as Herndon fair catches this punt at his 9.
7:21 p.m. 17-7 — Somebody lit a fire under Robert Thomas after that blase start up front. Thomas dumps the running back, Truss, after a shovel pass, then combines with end Chris Smith to sack the QB, Summerlin. Samford still wants something out of this field position and calls its last time out with 18 seconds to play.
7:17 p.m. 17-7 Hogs — Samford calls its second time out of the half with 1:06 left, ball on its 37 and facing a third-and-6. For whatever reason, this game has turned a tad boring.
Now Samford has to punt. Arkansas will get a minute to get more points … no they won’t, Herndon whirls and dervishes here and there and then coughs the ball up at the Hogs’ 35.
So now the defense has to lock down the Bulldogs for the next 49 seconds.
7:13 p.m. — Hunter Henry is flagged for offensive pass interference when it looked for all the world that, at worst, it was holding after a catch and run by Jonathan Williams gained a first down. Hogs can’t make up the penalty yardage and, for the first time, won’t get points on a possession.
7:02 p.m. 17-7 Hogs — Arkansas’ defensive line finally began to get some penetration and win some battles up front, but not before Samford had crossed midfield again. Robert Thomas, playing the 3 technique between Samford’s guard and tackle, was disappointed in missing a tackle earlier in the backfield, tore off his gloves and then proceeded to get mad, later recording a sack that slowed the Bulldogs drive and eventually forced a punt.
Samford is finding openings in the Hogs’ zone pass defense in front of the safeties, but those openings are easier for the back 7 to defend when the Hogs get some pass rush, which they managed after the Bulldogs were threatening.
Now, though, the offense has to start on its 4 after the Bulldogs’ punt.
6:52 p.m. 17-7 Hogs — Zach Hocker drills a 53-yard field goal, his career long as a Razorback (51 was his previous best) to push the home team back up by 10.
You may be wondering why Arkansas had to settle for a field goal (if you’re not watching or listening). Specifically, the Hogs were flagged for their first holding call of the season, stalling another promising drive that reached the Samford 26. Arkansas isn’t finding as much success with its running between the tackles this week. However, Javontee Herndon nearly rescued the drive with an amazing catch at the sidelines but couldn’t hold on.
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6:47 p.m. — That’s the end of the quarter, by the way.
6:45 p.m., 14-7 Hogs — Finally, a kickoff to the Hogs is returned. Eric Hawkins, the redshirt freshman with a ton of speed, took the kickoff 27 yards from his 1-yard line. And we even see quarterback Brandon Allen scramble and run, and he carries 13 yards to the Samford 46 before a slide-down.
6:40 p.m. 14-7 Hogs — Hate to harp on weakside linebacker Braylon Mitchell because I know he’s playing as hard as he can, but he lost his man when Hogs had pressure on a third-and-long, allowing a completion that set up the Bulldogs’ score, a 2-yard run by Kelsey Pope around left held. Samford drove 75 yards on 13 plays. Arkansas had several backups in on the drive, in particular Darius Philon at tackle and Jamichael Winston at end, with Trey Flowers on the bench. Also, we saw the first real defensive playing time for Martrelle Spaight, the junior college transfer, who recorded a couple of tackles on the drive.
But the Hogs, while tackling well, were made to look foolish on a couple of pass calls by Samford, including a screen pass where Mitchell, again, was playing way too soft.
But give Samford credit for picking out some weakspots from the game film from last week. Arkansas corners were giving up the 8 yard cushions and the safeties were deep too, giving some openings in the zone.
6:29 — The official stat guys behind me credited Robert Thomas with the pass deflection on Samford’s first place, and I will admit I’m probably blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other, especially if I don’t have my glasses. But I’m 99.9 percent certain I saw “54″ who is Byran Jones, on that deflection. Feel free to let me know I’m wrong. Or right. Whatever.
6:27 p.m. 14-0 Hogs — Running yards aren’t coming near as easily for Arkansas against FCS Samford … ooh wait, there goes Jonathan Williams. He races around left end for 46 yards before being run out at the Samford 8. That sets up a bootleg RIGHT play that gives Allen the options of TE Jeremy Sprinkle (wide open almost from the snap) and Javontee Herndon, who broke open in the back of the end zone, for the 7-yard score. Arkansas drove 78 yards in 8 plays for the score.
6:20 p.m. 7-0 Hogs — Byran Jones, lined up over center, deflected a pass by Andy Summerlin back into Summerlin’s hands on first down for a loss of 3. We point this out because we were looking for more penetration by Jones of the opponent’s backfield. Interestingly, Jones has lined up all three snaps over center and Robert Thomas, who was mostly over the center last week, is playing the 2 technique tackle in Arkansas’ 4-3. Hogs force a 3-and-out too, thanks to the bad hands of Samford’s back, Fabian Truss, who juggled and dropped the third-down pass. Truss had barreled for 11 yards on second down to make up some ground after that quarterback-to-quarterback completion for minus 3.
It’s Mitchell Loewen, of course. Too used to just typing one L for Tevin Mitchel.
6:13 p.m. 7-0 Arkansas — Tight end Mitchel Loewen (pronounced Lay-ven), who didn’t get a pass thrown his way last week, broke open 12 yards downfield from the linebacker defending him, with the attention on the wideouts, and Brandon Allen easily found him for the touchdown, a 24-yard play. Allen was 3-for-3 on the drive, offered plenty of time to find Javontee Herndon on the 35-yard deep fade pass early in the drive, the 7 yards to Julian Horton on an out route on third-and-5 to keep the drive going.
6:11 p.m. — Georgia State threw for more than 400 yards against Samford last week despite losing, and Arkansas just passed for 35 yards, Brandon Allen to Javontee Herndon who has too much height for the little cornerback and pulls it in on the left sideline. Arkansas can likely pass for 500 yards tonight, but I suspect running the ball against this base 4-3 defense of Samford’s is the plan.
6:08 — Arkansas receives and defends the north end zone. Kickoff is 8 yards deep and downed by Eric Hawkins. Samford obviously has a strong-legged kickoff man.
6:07 p.m. — With pay-per-view, as the Razorbacks have for this game, you could set the kickoff time at any time you wanted, right? 7 p.m. would have been nicer in terms of temperature for the fans. But 50,000 people at least have been on the golf course partying since at least 2 p.m. (and a whole lot well before then, as we saw many areas already filled with tailgating at 10 a.m.). It’s 96 degrees now, and at 3 p.m. the head index around here was 102, so I’m sure a little more heat in the stadium won’t bother the fans.
The empty seats are mostly in the south end zone, spread out across the stop mostly. Also some a few hundred empty seats under the scoreboard in the north end zone.
It’s my contention these seats should be $55. Not every seat in this stadium is worth the same (and forget that, yes, the people sitting from 30-to-30 pay extra to the Foundation), I’m just talking face value on the tickets. For years, when tickets were $6, then $8, then $10, the end zone tickets weren’t the same price. So they need to be the same price now? $55? something to think about in this so-called stadium debate. Little Rock is “taxed” an additional $10 per seat, ostensibly to make up for the money lost by not playing on campus. But would this game have drawn 60,000 in Fayetteville? Would the season ticket price be seen as a bit much if Samford and Mississippi State also were part of the Fayetteville season tickets. You’d have to ask the people who only buy tickets for Fayetteville that question, I suppose.
Anyway, there’s a football game to play. Let’s enjoy it.
6:01 p.m. — Here we are, ready to blog. Kickoff will not be at 6 p.m. as we thought. Hogs haven’t run through the A yet.