Arkansas Three Keys: North Texas

Three-keys-Arkansas

That was a disaster. The Arkansas Razorbacks didn’t even play particularly well on offense, and yet they still led Colorado State by a 27-9 score in the third quarter of this past Saturday’s game in Fort Collins.

By Matt Zemek

Winning comfortably despite playing a deficient game with multiple mistakes is a great thing for a team and coaching staff to witness early in the season. A team can get the scoreboard result yet learn all sorts of lessons which can be applied in the future, enabling a group to achieve tangible goals while also developing in the course of games, practices, and film sessions. Everything was coming together for Arkansas…

… and then everything fell apart.

Colorado State began to pass the ball successfully. Arkansas’ offense didn’t have any meaningful answers. A game Arkansas had led by 18 abruptly got away from the Hogs. The lessons are still there to be learned, but they are now even more painful without the positive notch in the win column. Arkansas has to completely regroup and identify why this game unraveled while not taking on additional emotional baggage. That is much easier said than done, especially under a first-year coach, but the Razorbacks have to find a way to do just that.

1 – QUARTERBACK ANSWERS

Neither Cole Kelley nor Ty Storey were consistently good against Colorado State. Kelley briefly sparkled in the second half but could not sustain a high level of play. Chad Morris came to Fayetteville with a reputation for improving quarterbacks. He needs to live up to that reputation, but he also needs to select the quarterback who is better for the team. Developing players is one facet of coaching; playing the right ones is another. Morris needs to make the right calls on those fronts.

2 – PLUG THE LEAKS

The Arkansas secondary allowed nearly 300 passing yards in the second half of last week’s game, utterly failing in pass-defense situations. The lack of a pass rush has something to do with that, but these were Mountain West receivers, not University of Oklahoma receivers, who got free against Arkansas’ back line. The Hogs have to display more resilience in this part of their defense. North Texas is likely to be fearless in attacking the Arkansas defense down the field. UNT head coach Seth Littrell is one of the rising young coaches in the country. Arkansas’ corners and safeties will need to hold up under considerable pressure and show that they can handle the Mean Green in Week 3.

3 – HOGS NEED TO GET DOWN AND DIRTY

Part of why a 27-9 lead did not hold up was that Arkansas’ offensive line couldn’t pile-drive Colorado State’s defensive front. Teams which cannot demonstrate ball control cannot put away games they should be able to finish. For all the defense did wrong in the final 20 minutes against Colorado State, it received no help from the offense. This was a team loss and not the fault of any one position group. The offensive line has to take this personally and bring a sledgehammer to the North Texas defensive line. An authoritative performance by the offensive line will do something to reduce (but not eliminate) the bad taste left by the loss to Colorado State.

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