Jim Harris: Hogs’ ‘Poor Demeanor’ in 4th an Issue for Bielema


ARLINGTON, Texas — Whatever was working for the Arkansas defense for the first 29 minutes against Texas A&M, it seemed to completely vanish the instant Trevor Knight broke free up the middle for his second 40-plus-yard touchdown run to give the Aggies a 17-all halftime tie.

For the rest of the game, the Razorback defense was on its heels, slow to react and was shredded, passed over and run through as A&M ran away from the Hogs 45-24, the Aggies’ fifth straight win in the series and the third straight in AT&T Stadium.

Only a rare miscue from Knight with a botched handoff after taking a high center snap probably kept it from being utterly ridiculous for the Hog defense in the final 31 minutes. That turnover ended an Aggie drive to open the second half. And the Razorback offense bailed out the D over the next nine-and-a-half minutes with a grind-it-out before it squandered a third scoring chance from inside the 2-yard line.

Earlier, in the first half, Arkansas had 6 snaps from the 2 or closer and 7 total inside the 10 on one possession, before having to settle for a chip-shot field goal from Cole Hedlund. Minutes later, running back Rawleigh Williams III appeared to be going in for a touchdown when the football was knocked loose and recovered by A&M’s Armani Watts.

Then came the turning point late in the third quarter, as Arkansas was denied on three plays that put the ball a half-foot from the goal line. Passing on another field goal in a 17-all game, Arkansas tried to run wide with a reverse to Keon Hatcher. He was dropped for a loss of 6 by the free safety Watts.

Two plays later, Knight lofted a deep throw down the right sideline to senior Josh Reynolds, who caught it in stride behind corner D.J. Dean and eluded safety Santos Ramirez’s diving effort to race 92 yards for the game-breaker.

A&M scored on the next three possessions as well, with freshman running back Trayveon Williams sprinting through a dazed Hog defense for runs of 33 and 22 yards. Knight, the graduate transfer from Oklahoma whose arrival may have saved Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies, said good night to the Razorbacks on the last real snap of the game before he took a couple of knees, making one more sprint through the Hogs before getting chased down after 63 yards.

“They do a lot of really good things with him. He’s a lot faster than people think when he’s out there running,” Bielema said.

Austin Allen and the Razorback offense kept fighting in the second half, though could only score once and failed to keep up with the rampaging Aggies. At 38-17, Allen passed the Hogs in close again, and this time Arkansas used the pass to get it in. Allen, who was

Allen’s solid 2-minute work late in the first half put the Razorbacks in front 17-10, and it seemed that the worst the Arkansas defense might allow would be a field goal before halftime.

Knight had burned the defense once with a 42-yard sprint though a vacated middle – the Hogs’ two linebackers covered each flat and the safeties went to help on coverage near the sideline, leaving nothing but green behind the defensive line when Knight broke through.

It couldn’t happen again, could it?

Unfortunately for the Hogs, the answer was yes, even with senior linebacker Brooks Ellis a little more wary for it and safety Santos Ramirez not as out of position. Still, reactions were slow to Knight on a 48-yard race through the middle again, and it shook the Hogs’ defense for the rest of the game.

Before that run, A&M had 150 yards total offense. The Aggies would finish with about 600 total yards.

Bielema said, “A&M did everything they needed to do to pull it out. We didn’t do the things we needed to do. We were a little loose with the football, gave up some turnovers. We had some penalties that, when they hit, were costly.”

And this: “We had some guys in the fourth quarter who took the field with a poor demeanor. We’ll address that.”

The positives

Arkansas protected Austin Allen better than maybe anyone would have expected, until the game got away in the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said the protection scheme the Hogs ran was the best they’d seen, particularly against a pair of defensive ends, Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall, who “are the best in college football.”

Allen was 28 of 42 for 371 yards with no interceptions and 2 touchdowns.

Jared Cornelius had 7 catches for 126 yards and a score. Drew Morgan kept countless drives alive and had a team-high 9 catches for 86 yards. Keon Hatcher had three catches for 77 yards, including an outstanding 44-yard catch while being mugged by the frequently flagged Nick Harvey.

Rawleigh Williams had a long run of 55 yards that set up the possession at the 2 in the first half that only resulted in a field goal. A&M lined 10 men up close and Arkansas simply could not move them. RWIII had 79 total rushing yards on 17 carries. Devwah Whaley, the freshman, showed more promise (though not like his counterpart for A&M, Trayveon Williams), having a 16-yard burst and 29 total yards on nine carries

A&M’s front seven defensively was more physical than they have been the past two years here. Arkansas averaged just 3 yards per rush.

trevor knight bielema


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