Arkansas-Kansas State grades: RB Alex Collins stars in Liberty Bowl win
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 45-23 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats in the Liberty Bowl:
– The star of the game was Arkansas running back Alex Collins (+5.5). Collins rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Collins is the beneficiary of a massive offensive line that can open holes for him, but he repeatedly demonstrated his ability to create on his own. Collins used both his strength and his agility to force nine missed tackles against the Wildcats.
– QB Brandon Allen (+4.5) finished the game 20-of-26 for 315 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He threw the ball accurately to the intermediate and deep parts of the field, and completed six-of-eight passes targeted further than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. He also completed six-of-eight passes when he was under pressure for a NFL QB rating of 156.3 when pressured.
– The Arkansas Razorbacks are fortunate to have not one, but two tight ends with NFL potential. Jeremy Sprinkle (+4.8) and Hunter Henry (+3.1) both had excellent games against Kansas State. Henry is the starter, and is often lined up in-line. He can move people in the run game and has the athleticism and body control to get open and make plays in the pass game (+2.4 pass catching grade). Sprinkle was used in a more versatile H-back manner, and was often lined-up in the backfield and used as a lead blocker, earning a +2.0 run blocking grade for the game, in addition to his +2.1 pass catching grade.
RB Alex Collins (+5.5)
TE Jeremy Sprinkle (+4.8)
QB Brandon Allen (+4.5)
TE Hunter Henry (+3.1)
WR Jared Cornelius (+2.8)
Kansas State Wildcats
– Kansas State found (+3.9) itself once again turning to wide receiver Kody Cook to provide a spark for their offense by playing him at quarterback. Cook is a bit limited as a passer and struggled to complete much downfield. He was unable to complete any of his four passes targeted beyond 20 yards, and only completed 3-of-11 passes that were thrown beyond 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Cook finished 12-of-25 for 163 yards and one touchdown. He added 10 carries for 33 yards on the ground. The other quarterback, Joe Hubener, came in to throw one pass for an interception late in the fourth quarter.
– Left tackle and NFL draft prospect Cody Whitehair (+1.8) played another solid game, only allowing two hurries in pass protection. Whitehair graded out positively both as a pass blocker (+1.2) and as a run blocker (+1.4), as he has for most of the season. He was proficient in pass protection all season, only allowing two sacks, one hit, and 13 hurries. He has the attention of talent evaluators.
– Defensive end Jordan Willis (+1.6) was the Wildcats’ highest-graded defensive player of the game. Willis had two sacks and two hurries on his 27 pass rushes. He also added three stops in the run game for a +1.1 run defense grade.
QB Kody Cook (+3.9)
C Dalton Risner (+2.5)
LT Cody Whitehair (+1.8)
DE Jordan Willis (+1.6)
TE Dayton Valentine (+1.6)