Tyler Wilson had to be horrified.
His first play from scrimmage since suffering what we believe was a concussion two weeks ago and he gets leveled by not one, but two unblocked Scarlet Knights who had a clear path to the most important person in the football program. Let's face it, Tyler Wilson IS the franchise.
This was no sneak attack by these Rutgers defenders. No, they showed their cards early. They lined up just outside our right tackle prior to the snap. After watching our tackle block the man to his left and allow the defenders an unimpeded path to smack Tyler, the only explanation I have is that he must have been equipped with blinders.
On this night, there was no need to load the box against the Hogs. At times, the Scarlet Knights elected to rush only three and keep eight in coverage and they still managed to hassle Tyler. The best word to describe the offensive line on this night is confused. They didn't block well for the run or the pass. Line play is a big reason that the vaunted Hog offense is ranked 75th in the nation.
What was Paul Petrino thinking? It's early in the first quarter, it's momentum Hogs. The Razorbacks lead 3-0 and have a 3rd and two at the Rutgers 24. They come out in a power formation. This Razorback team, which is 0 for 3 this season in blowing opponents off the ball, is gonna show these kids from the Big East how the big boys in the SEC do it. Dennis Johnson got stuffed for no gain on third down. What did the Hogs do? They took a time out and pounded it at the Scarlet Knights again. Knile Davis gained one yard. No first down, no points.
The national defensive rankings are scary. I'm not going to list the numbers but the rankings are a lot like our high temperatures in July. This defense specializes in one thing: career highs for opposing quarterbacks. On Saturday, Rutgers QB Gary Nova looked like Steve Young. He went places he's never been - 397 passing yards and five touchdown passes. If this trend continues, Connor Shaw may complete 21 straight passes when the Hogs face South Carolina.
A true freshman was left to fend for himself at one cornerback position. You think they would try to protect him with a little safety help from time to time. That didn't happen and our freshman got taught more than a few lessons from the most talented receiving corp on the field. The school that some used to call "Receiver U" is officially "receiver who?" Last night, it was Cobi Hamilton or bust!!!
I can't fault Tyler Wilson. At times, it looked like Tyler was competing at the State Fair. Drop the football between the linebacker and the safety with a guy in your face and you win the big prize - a 20 yard gain. Nothing comes easy for these Razorbacks. Five and six yard passes that used to be gimmees for the Hog offense are now contested plays.
The Hogs are now going through what appears to be a rebuilding year with a transitional staff that includes two new coordinators. Bobby P. had his hands all over last year's team. This was supposed to be a great opportunity for the Paul's (Petrino and Haynes). Every day after the early newscast at Channel 7, our news director tells us what he liked and didn't like in the shows. I wish the Paul's would be a little more honest in their press events. I don't think anyone was prepared to see what we are witnessing on both sides of the ball.
What happened to all the players Bobby P. recruited over the past four years? They are asking freshman - true freshman - to catch passes and punts, defend receivers and make tackles for a team that was supposed to contend for the SEC title. I can't fault these players. How many real freshman success stories are there in the SEC each year? Not many.
One thing we have to remember is that we are still early in the season. The Hogs just finished game four of a 12 game schedule. I was taught early in life that "where there's life, there's hope." If - and this is a big if - the Hogs can protect "the franchise," I still think there's hope for the 2012 Razorbacks.
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