Photographs by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema (right) and offensive coordinator Dan Enos react during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE -- There's good and bad news for the Arkansas Razorbacks this week.
On the good side, the Razorbacks have two weeks to prepare for their next opponent, Texas A&M, on Sept. 23 in Arlington, Texas.
The bad news: The Razorbacks have many issues to correct after last week's 28-7 home loss to No. 23 TCU and two weeks to hear and read about the failings in that game.
Coach Bret Bielema threw a bye week curveball. He asked coordinators Dan Enos and Paul Rhoads to watch the entire game video with their units Sunday, rather than just a few select plays as usual. Then after Monday's off day, the players watched the full game again Tuesday with their position coaches, a session that is usually held Sundays after the shorter offensive and defensive studies.
"We watched it again because I wanted to drive through the points that existed on film," Bielema said at his Wednesday news conference. "This time they watched it with their positional coaches, so kind of a double-dip effect to try and get across how important this game was and what we had an opportunity to learn from. We definitely couldn't leave it on Saturday. We had to go back and revisit it."
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said it was good to hear the corrections coming from one voice, and also a reinforcement of the positive plays that were made.
"It was a good session with everyone in there," Enos said. "We watched the entire game and [Bielema] pointed out some positive things and some areas we can continue to get better at."
Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said the bye week afforded the Razorbacks the luxury of watching the video as an entire defense.
"Like anything else that you really, thoroughly evaluate, the more you watch it the ... more you are going to be exposed to," Rhoads said. "So I think we got a lot of great teaching done in those two days of meetings, and I'm equally confident that we got a lot of great learning done at the same time."
The overarching issues for the offense focused on leakage in the running game that blew up several plays, including all three runs from the 5 or closer, as well as timing and mechanical problems in the passing game that led to a subpar showing by Austin Allen. The senior completed 9 of 23 passes for 138 yards, with 1 touchdown and no interceptions.
Allen did not connect with his receivers on several deep throws, and he underthrew an open Deon Stewart on a deep shot in the third quarter with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville trailing 14-7.
"He was real disappointed with how he played on Saturday," Enos said. "When you're the quarterback, I think it gets magnified. Also, he's played at such a high level, he's created big expectations for himself."
Enos said Allen is thinking too much about the process and needs to play faster.
"I know that sounds weird to say he's thinking too much, but when you overthink you play slower, and we've got to get him to play instinctive," Enos said. "We need him to play faster. He did miss some uncharacteristic things on Saturday. He missed a couple of throws that he doesn't miss."
Enos said Allen also made good plays and kept the Razorbacks in the game.
"We need him to play better, the guys around him to play better, and we need to coach better," Enos said.
Bielema said the Razorbacks practiced efficiently last week, with less than 3 percent of their snaps being affected by penalties, dropped passes, turnovers or other key mistakes. In the loss to TCU, Bielema said that number -- which the Razorbacks have deemed "the 12 percent rule" -- was at 17 percent.
Bielema mentioned after the game that the Razorbacks might cut down on the number of receivers who work with Allen and the first-team offense, and he gave more details Wednesday, saying Jared Cornelius, Jordan Jones, Jonathan Nance and Deon Stewart would get the bulk of the reps with the ones. T.J. Hammonds, DeVion Warren, Jarrod Barnes, LaMichael Pettway, Tobias Enlow and others would take mostly second-team reps.
The same logic applies to the tight ends, where he said Austin Cantrell, Cheyenne O'Grady and Jeremy Patton would run most often with the starters.
Rhoads said his unit played well, but missed tackles prevented it from reaching another level.
"We want to be a great defense, and I thought we played good and even possibly good enough to keep us in the ballgame ... but we want to play great," Rhoads said. "We want to play at a level that secures victory for our football team."
Bielema said the team doesn't need any wholesale changes, as he executed last year during an open date after a 56-3 loss at Auburn.
"I definitely don't feel that way," he said. "I mean, it's a 14-7 game with about two minutes left. I get the end. I get they scored two touchdowns and it ends up being 28-7. I totally get it.
"But that was a team that I think is going to win some games that's a good crossover game for us that we were toe-to-toe on, and we didn't sufficiently do what we needed to in all three phases. And every phase could have won the game.
"It was right there knocking on the door, so it tells me we're not that far off, but we've got to clean up those issues and we can't ignore them."
ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS A&M WHEN 11 a.m., Sept. 23 WHERE AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas RECORDS Arkansas 1-1, 0-0 SEC; Texas A&M 1-1, 0-0 TV ESPN
Sports on 09/14/2017
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