College Game of the Week: Razorbacks @ Aggies
Without any true primetime matchup this college football weekend, our twitter followers opted for the Southwest Classic in this edition of #PFFGoesToCollege and boy was it a great one.
Arkansas dominated the ground game for the first three quarters, the highlight being a 50-yard run from Alex Collins that was as perfectly blocked as you can get at the point of attack. They then decided to get inexplicably conservative on offense, while overly aggressive on defense. The cardinal sin with a lead in the fourth quarter is giving up a big play, and Arkansas managed to do it twice. Once Texas A&M squared the game up, Arkansas just couldn’t quite restart their engines after completely shutting down their passing attack for much of the second half.
The SEC matchup made for fantastic viewing with the contrasting offensive styles. Arkansas got a combined 179 snaps from tight ends and full backs while Texas A&M received just 33. The Aggies made a living getting the ball out to the edge whether it be through pulling linemen or wide screens. That set up their play action and screen action passing game which led to multiple open receivers in the secondary. Arkansas did some similar things in the run game, but they made their living going North and South as much as possible using power, lead, and draw concepts on the majority of their runs.
Arkansas Razorbacks – Performances of Note
Brandon Allen, QB: +0.2
Breakdown: Head coach Bret Bielema didn’t ask Allen to win the game with a 49/30 run-pass ratio, but Allen certainly left something to be desired as a game manager. Even though he stayed away from the big mistake, the junior quarterback too often threw the ball away (five throways) or threw it to a receiver far short of the sticks when the Razorbacks were in need of a play.
Signature Stat: Allen went 3-of-5 on passes over 20 yards downfield, but just 2-of-7 on targets between 10 and 20 yards.
AJ Derby, TE: (+4.4) and Hunter Henry, TE: (+3.2)
Breakdown: What a game for the Arkansas tight ends. Utterly dominant on the edge in the run game, Derby and Henry had run blocking grades of +3.7 and +2.0, respectively. In the NFL, most tight ends are good for multiple cleanly-beaten blocks a game, but in 77 combined run blocking snaps neither had a single bad beat. To top it off Derby put an absolutely beautiful fake on De’Vante Harris to get wide open for a 44-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Signature Stat: Arkansas runningbacks ran for 131 yards on 22 run that went off tackle Saturday.
Alan Turner, FS: -3.5
Breakdown: Turner wasn’t the only one to completely blow a coverage on Saturday, but he was definitely the most egregious offender. He was caught peeking into the backfield on both the second-quarter touchdown to Ben Compton that was called back and the actual touchdown to Edward Pope two plays later. His slow reactions and -3.9 coverage grade cost Arkansas dearly in this one.
Signature Play: On the Aggies’ overtime touchdown, Turner broke on the fake to a wide screen and completely abandoned his deep zone in the Razorback’s cover four look.
Texas A&M Aggies – Performances of Note
Myles Garrett, DE: +6.7
Breakdown: Something tells me this won’t be the last time you see Garrett’s name on PFF, but we’ll just have to wait a few years for the true freshman to be draft eligible. There was little doubt that he was the best defensive player on the field Saturday as he picked up eight hurries and two stops in 67 snaps.
Signature Play: On third down, with 12:05 left in the third quarter, all Garrett did was dip his shoulder, but with his speed and balance it was enough to blow past left tackle Dan Skipper and force a quick off-target throw from Brandon Allen.
Donnie Baggs (-3.9) and Julien Obioha(-4.9)
Breakdown: If you were looking for a reason why the Texas A&M run defense was a sieve, look no further. Obioha (-3.9 run defense) crumpled under down blocks play after play at the hands of Arkansas’ tight ends. Baggs on the other hand just couldn’t seem to set the edge, as he would either get thrown upfield or widened to the point where he had effectively lost contain. It also didn’t help that Baggs had three of the Aggies’ 13 missed tackles on the day.
Signature Stat: In 91 combined run snaps, Obioha and Baggs managed just two total tackles.
Kenny Hill, QB: +1.0
Breakdown: Plagued by inconsistency for a majority of the game, Hill made just enough big throws to creep into a positive grade. It was tough sledding early for Hill as things just didn’t seem to be clicking and his receivers dropped five passes by midway through the third quarter. The accuracy struggles didn’t really change for Hill late in the game, as he terribly underthrew a post route that was picked midway through the fourth quarter, it’s just that the Razorbacks defense criminally blew some coverages.
Signature Stat: Hill went 5-8 for 116 yards and a touchdown off play action.
PFF Game Ball
With three more pressures than the rest of the A&M defenders combined, the Aggies defense may never have come off the field if it weren’t for the pressure applied by game ball recipient Myles Garrett.
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Texas A&M Offense
Texas A&M Defense
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner