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Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016

Hog Calls

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE -- From warfare to football, it seems results via air ultimately are determined on the ground.

Last Saturday night some 74,210 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, plus an ESPN audience, got grounded in that lesson at Arkansas' expense.

Despite a combined 773 passing yards and 10 touchdown passes, including school records of 408 passing yards and five touchdown passes by Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, and a Georgia school record five touchdown passes, plus 375 passing yards by quarterback Joe Cox, Georgia's 52-41 victory hinged on the Infantry.

Georgia outrushed Arkansas 155-77 and logged the game's lone rushing touchdown, Richard Samuel's 80-yard romp.

The Bulldogs kept Arkansas' beleaguered defense longer on the field three quarters out of four, especially Georgia's 17-0 second quarter.

"Our inability to run the ball," second-year Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said, "and their ability to run the ball in the second quarter kept us on the sideline."

Despite Arkansas' air show, Petrino knew too well what ran the W to Georgia's column.

"Ryan played really well," Petrino said, "but we didn't run the ball. We didn't block. Guys were angling in. We've got to do a better job running the ball so we can use the clock. I'm very disappointed in our defense. We didn't stop the run well enough."

From recent history, chances are the Hogs will fix their ability to run the ball faster than their ability to stop the run.

Arkansas sports the SEC's best running back, Michael Smith, the SEC 2009 pre-season first-teamer and 2008 1,072-yards rusher.

However, for these 1-1 Hogs, Smith has logged only 12 total carries.

He had that many during some quarters last year in consecutive 35 times-per-carry games.

Circumstances dictated less load so far this year.

In the season-opening 44-10 rout of Missouri State initiated by Dennis Johnson's 91-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff, the Hogs didn't need to overwork Smith.

So he carried only four times, and still effectively logged 43 yards.

Last Saturday night on the game's first play from scrimmage, Smith caught a Mallett pass for an 18-yard gain, then quietly exited nursing an injured shoulder. He didn't return until just before the second quarter.

Smith finished still averaging an impressive 7.4 per carry, eight totes for 59 yards, including a 23-yarder, and three catches for 33 yards.

Unless the shoulder injury proves painfully lingering, look for Smith to be involved early and often in Saturday's 2:30 p.m. CBS televised visit to reigning SEC West champion Alabama.

And look for the line to run-block better. All the line's starters are from the run-blocking Houston Nutt regime.

Nor is it like Petrino and offensive line coach Mike Summers are pass happy. Their four Louisville teams were superbly run-pass balanced.

Under their tutelage, these Hogs obviously blocked well for the run much of last year.

Otherwise Smith couldn't have netted 1,072 yards in 10 games.

As for not stopping the run, nor stopping the pass, too, it was another painful night among painful nights dating before and through this Petrino regime.

Arkansas has for the most part been defensively down since two years after the Houston Nutt regime outset of Danny Ford inherited players.

That thought occurred before last Saturday's coin toss. One of those Ford-Nutt players, retired former NFL safety Kenoy Kennedy, was an honorary Arkansas captain.

Offensive-defensive balance shined in Arkansas' star galaxy back in 1998 and 1999.

Reflect on this Razorbacks' roster current and those of recent past and the star power shines decidedly offensive.

One current defender mentioned in the same breath with offensive stars, third-year sophomore linebacker Jerry Franklin, got ejected in the second quarter from last Saturday's game.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson was observed talking to his linebacker.

I just told him," Robinson said, "this is a hard lesson learned how important it is that he be on that field."

In these days of college football offensively legislated so blockers can grapple as well as block, and offenses blessed with super speed and sophisticated schemes, every defense needs every hand on deck.

Especially this Arkansas defense, it seems.



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