Arkansas overcame an 18 point halftime deficit to defeat Texas A&M in a wild showdown between former Southwest Conference rivals and future Southeast Conference foes. Texas A&M did everything they needed to do in order to win the game except score more points. Here are some general observations from the game.
Injury Bug Bit Arkansas
Already missing several key players, Arkansas lost Darius Winston, Robert Thomas and Joe Adams to injuries against the Aggies. The extent of those injuries isn't known at this time but one has to wonder how many injuries this team can endure, particularly on defense where they have now lost both defensive ends, an defensive tackle, and a cornerback.
If the Hogs can survive Auburn next weekend they will get a much needed week off in order to get healthy as well as further develop some of the young talent that is being forced in to action.
Arkansas' Depth at Running Back Is Improving
The unexpected return of Broderick Green provided a boost as the fifth year senior transfer from USC scored two touchdowns including the go ahead touchdown from three yards out with 1:41 remaining in the game. Dennis Johnson also provided a boost accounting for 54 yards on eight carries in addition to 69 yards on four receptions.
Ronnie Wingo helped the Hogs gain momentum in the second half with a hard fought touchdown reception from the 13 yard line. While the Hogs may not have one back who can replace Knile Davis, look for Bobby Petrino to find ways to utilize the strength of the backs he does have in order to help balance the offense.
Tyler Wilson made Hog fans forget about Ryan Mallett for at least one afternoon. Wilson shattered Mallets single game passing record with 510 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson continued to take a beating at the hands of the defense, but stood strong in the pocket throughout the game. Wilson also gets a much needed signature win that should help his confidence going forward.
Jarius Wright is the Man!
Tyler Wilson wasn't the only Razorback player to break records on Saturday. Senior Jarius Wright caught 13 passes for a school record 281 yards and a touchdown as well as recovering a fumble in the end zone for the tying touchdown. At times in his career Wright has been mentioned as an afterthought to Greg Childs and Joe Adams, but has now emerged as a leader on this team and Wilson's most trusted target.
Winning the Turnover Battle.
The Razorback defense had only accounted for two takeaways on the season going into the game with Texas A&M and ranked near the bottom of Football Bowl Subdivision teams in turnover ratio, but on Saturday the offense was able to protect the ball, while the defense accounted for two takeaways.
Trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, Greg Gatson grabbed an interception that led to the Hog's first score and kept the Razorbacks in the game. Freshmen Tevin Mitchell recovered a fumble by A&M running back Christian Michael in the fourth quarter but the Hogs were unable to capitalize.
The Razorbacks move to 4-1, there best start under fourth year head coach Bobby Petrino. For the Hogs right now, one gets the feeling that it's about surviving and buying time while the team tries to overcome injuries and continues to discover their identity.
The Hogs play Auburn next weekend in Fayetteville, then get a bye week, followed by games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Bobby Petrino's teams have finished the second half of the regular season a combined 10-1 over the last two seasons and with a win next week they might just be setting up for a similar run in 2011.