Arkansas Football: Grading All 22 Starting Positions from the Alabama Blowout
Yesterday, the Arkansas Razorbacks suffered their worst defeat since The Beatles were still together.
The Crimson Tide offense had their way with the Hogs defense, scoring a devastating 52 points.
When a team's defense lets an opponent score over 50 points and an offense isn't able to put any points on the board from a touchdown or even a field goal, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Some units have been grouped together, as they share responsibility for their collective performance.
Quarterback: Brandon Allen
Allen has had a rough week. Last Saturday, he was thrown to the Warhawks when Tyler Wilson left the field injured. This week, he was shoved into the starting quarterback position against the No. 1 team in the country.
He did not perform well.
His 10 completions in 18 attempts totaled 60 yards on the night.
He had two interceptions. One during the second quarter was returned for 13 yards. The other in the fourth quarter was returned for 46 yards.
That’s 59 yards, almost as many yards as he produced for his own team.
Running Back: Knile Davis
Knile Davis had another game where he failed to electrify the field with the same caliber of performance that he showed the college football world in 2010.
He was given a few more opportunities to carry the ball this week, 20 as opposed to 16, but he still only managed 59 yards during the game. He also fumbled the ball four times with Alabama recovering it twice.
Davis’ performance cannot be graded without taking into account the performances of the Alabama defense and his own offensive line.
If Davis had the strong support of his offensive line and was not facing a defense posting back to back shutouts the last two weeks, he may have been able to do some damage.
Wide Receivers: Cobi Hamilton, Mekale McCray, Brandon Mitchell
Alabama’s defense had the Hogs wide receivers covered up during the entire game. They also didn’t have their top quarterback to throw them the ball when they were open. Arkansas was held to 79 passing yards all game, with the majority of production coming from tight ends Chris Gragg and Austin Tate.
Cobi Hamilton and Mekale McKay were the only full-time receivers on the field with Brandon Mitchell having to pull double duty as a quarterback.
Is it fair to give Arkansas’ receivers a bad grade when they were wrestling with the Crimson Tide’s defense and couldn’t get a decent pass thrown their way when they did get open?
Grade: C (adjusted for circumstances)
Tight End: Chris Gragg
Gragg makes the most of his opportunities and will be a great prospect should he enter the NFL draft after this, his senior season.
He always seems to be able to make something out of nothing. He had the ball thrown his direction five times during the game, making three catches and averaging 11 yards per reception.
When Tyler Wilson comes back healthy for next week’s game against Rutgers, Gragg will have even more of an opportunity to shine for the Razorbacks.
The offensive line allowed Brandon Allen to be sacked four times during the game, twice on back-to-back plays in the Hogs’ first drive of the fourth quarter.
The offensive line also could not provide enough blocking for Knile Davis to get into a groove and allow the Razorbacks to establish any kind of run game.
Two of the big questions coming into today’s game were whether or not the line could block for their running back and provide protection for their quarterback to throw the ball. Allen had time during the opening minutes of the game to make throws, but after the Tide’s first score, everything began to fall apart.
Guess we have our answers to those questions.
Arkansas fans have been making their opinions known on Facebook, Twitter and various blogs since the final whistle blew yesterday. The consensus among Razorback Nation is that the Hogs gave up, especially the defensive line.
The Hogs shut Eddie Lacy down on Alabama’s first drive, holding him to two yards on his first carry and eventually forcing Alabama to punt. Arkansas’ defense looked sharp.
Then the illegal kicking penalty happened, and it all went downhill from there.
The defense helped blow a 21-7 halftime lead over Louisiana-Monroe during last week’s defeat.
Each game that passes shows that the defensive line is struggling with keeping physically and mentally tough enough to finish games after performing well at the beginning.
If the line has any hopes of improving over yesterday’s performance, they are going to have to figure out how to make plays for an entire 60 minutes of football.
Cornerbacks and Linebackers
When a team suffers a blowout of this magnitude, it’s hard to say what exactly went wrong. Alonzo Highsmith was one of the highlights during the first quarter, making stops and looking like he was going to give the Alabama offense trouble early in the game.
But the disease the defensive line caught after the Tide’s first touchdown seemed to be contagious to the rest of the Razorback defense and spread to the linebackers and cornerbacks.
Once the front line crumbled, the rest followed suit.
I've watched this game twice now, and I can't see one major play from this unit that made an impact in yesterday's game.
Maybe Tevin Mitchell's absence was deeper felt than anyone thought it would be.
Ross Rasner made an amazing stop during the first quarter of the game. He read Alabama’s offensive scheme and stopped what was a potentially huge running play in the first quarter.
Then he vanished, like a lot of other Razorback football players did yesterday.
The only consolation that the safeties can hold onto is that out of the Crimson Tide's seven touchdowns yesterday only one of them was from a passing play.
A.J. McCarron connected with Amari Cooper for 20 yards in the second quarter to make the score 17-0.