Football and sloppy: It's never a good combination and the Arkansas Razorbacks were all kinds of messy Saturday against the Florida Gators. The offense was off all night and the secondary continued its downward spiral in a 30-10 loss in Gainesville.
John Brummett, who runs the ArkansasOnline blog for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, gave his take on it:
This is wild sloppy game coming down to Florida having very good defense and Arkansas not, at least at linebacker and secondary. Fear 31-10— johnbrummett (@johnbrummett) October 6, 2013
There wasn't much positive to take away from a game where the Razorbacks failed to establish any sort of rhythm or consistency.
Where to even begin?
QB and the Offense
Head coach Bret Bielema needed quarterback Brandon Allen to have a good game for the Hogs to have a chance in the Swamp and he simply didn't. The sophomore went 17-of-41 (41.4 percent) with no touchdowns and a crucial interception.
The Arkansas offense actually wasn't too bad early on, scoring the game's first touchdown. There was sloppy play before that, though, with a fumble by Allen that the Gators recovered. Luckily for the Razorbacks, the defense held and blocked a 48-yard field goal attempt.
It was all downhill after that.
Allen and the offense struggled mightily for much of the remainder of the game.
Excluding the last drive of the half, which was a kneel down, three of the offense's six drives went for five plays or less. Allen threw a crucial interception in the second quarter that was returned for a touchdown, giving the Gators a 10-7.
The pick six was a momentum changer that gave Florida a lead it didn't relinquish.
The Gators had the No. 2 ranked defense in the country coming in and looked the part. A big problem on offense for the Hogs was that they deviated from their game plan. It's understandable wanting to throw the ball around on the road to try and make some big plays, but throwing the ball a total of 43 times?
That's not what this Razorbacks team is.
They allowed the frustration of a stingy Florida defense to get to them. Bielema and the coaching staff have two All-SEC caliber backs in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, so naturally the way to win on the road is to give them 21 combined carries.
What a joke.
Collins got the ball 13 times for 54 yards and Williams eight for 32 and a touchdown.
Why on earth offensive coordinator Jim Chaney would throw the ball 43 times and only give it to the two best players on the team 21 times, we may never know (Case status is pending for anyone who would like to investigate this matter).
Collins and Williams each averaged four yards or more a carry. While that may not be a ton, it's very good against a Gator rush defense that gave up just 2.43 YPC.
Once it became clear Allen wasn't going to beat Florida with his arm, Arkansas should have given Collins and Williams more touches. The Razorbacks are a running team, thus passing 14 more times than running is not the formula for success.
Allen still has a lot to work on as far as timing and accuracy. Granted, the receivers dropped a ton of balls, but he struggled against a superior defense, a sign he still has a ways to go before competing with the best.
He has to show more poise and make better throws going forward. It's that simple.
The scariest takeaway wasn't the offense and their continued struggles against good defenses. It was the downward spiral of the secondary.
It was a problem last year and it is still a glaring one this year. Before this week, Gators' quarterback Tyler Murphy had made one start and never completed a collegiate pass entering the year as a junior.
There is absolutely no excuse for the secondary to give up 240 passing yards and three touchdowns to a guy that spent most of his career on the scout team. It also allowed Murphy to complete 73 percent (16-22) of his passes.
His throws weren't for short completions either. The Hogs allowed 10.9 yards per completion—a first down every time he found a receiver. The secondary has allowed 847 yards through the air the last three games, along with eight touchdowns and just one pick.
Once the level of competition rose, the secondary didn't and it's still not showing improvements. With South Carolina next week followed by Alabama, improving the unit should be Bielema and the coaching staff's top priority.
It's not looking like a quick fix. But, if there isn't some serious improvements in the next week, Bielema needs to up the ante and have an open competition for spots because the team needs guys who aren't going to sit 20 yards off their man.
You can watch some off the secondary's porous coverage and Allen's pick six here:
The defensive line is good. Another solid outing makes it one of the few good takeaways from Saturday's manhandling. It allowed just 115 yards to Florida. They can thank the secondary for overshadowing that performance.
It's a tough life in the SEC and Bielema is finding that out very quickly.
He must get more consistent performances from Allen, the leader of the offense. If he's not getting it done, it makes it hard for the rest of the guys to do anything. The same goes for the defense. It matters not if the D-line is shutting down the run if the opponent can just throw it anywhere they want.
Many brutal matchups remain ahead. The Razorbacks need a good week of practice prior to hosting South Carolina or a similar fate could be in store.