State of the Hogs: Tennessee Review

Arkansas had too much speed for the Volunteers. The big plays came in exciting fashion led by the 60-yard punt return by Joe Adams.

The numbers were all fun Saturday night because the main one on the scoreboard looked about right: Arkansas 44 Tennessee 7.

Then there were all of those big plays. There was the 60-yard punt return by Joe Adams that was a human highlight reel. There was a 71-yard TD romp by Dennis Johnson. There were two grand passes by Tyler Wilson, one of them a 40-yard TD pass to Adams and then the amazing off-his-facemask grab by Jarius Wright for 40 yards.

It was delicious to roll through the stat sheet, mainly because the Hogs improved to 9-1 and clinched back-to-back winning seasons in the SEC for the first time since they came to the league in 1992. The Hogs are 5-1 with two league games left.

There are other statistical nuggets. Jarius Wright caught five passes to give him 155, two more than the previous school record of 153 set by Anthony Eubanks in 1994-97. Joe Adams, who caught two passes, is now tied with Eubanks for second.

Quarterback Tyler Wilson said afterwards that he'll try to help Adams catch Wright this week when the Hogs play host to Mississippi State in Little Rock. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee didn't know the exact numbers until after the game. He said, "That means Joe and Jarius will be in my office asking for the ball this week."

The Hogs could have hurt the Tennessee secondary more, but the lead was big enough that the ground game got more chances in the second half. And the Hogs responded by toasting the UT defensive backs there, too. The Hogs amassed 254 yards on the ground with Johnson making 97 on 11 tries.

We'll start the look back at the Top 10 from Friday at that point, the lack of speed by the Vols in the back end of their defense.

1. Tennessee secondary
The difference in team speed was obvious. Tennessee played five defensive backs and kept their safeties deep. But they didn't have the closing speed to impact what was happening after the Hogs popped the line of scrimmage. Adams, Johnson and Wright were too fast for the Vols. They sometimes had the angles, but not enough closing speed. Johnson squirted through them several times.

2. Pass protection
This wasn't really a major problem for either side -- thanks to a large dose of holding by the UT offensive line. The Vols all but tackled the Arkansas ends on some plays. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino went on the field to beg for a call or two from SEC ref Ken Williamson, but that was ignored. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was sacked once and UT's Justin Worley was sacked once. It did seem like UA end Jake Bequette chased Worley for most of the night and induced some throw aways.

3. Senior day
Arkansas made it a special night for its seniors with the big victory. There were 17 introduced before the game and all got big ovations. Players and coaches said the seniors were the focus from the time they turned their focus away from South Carolina and towards Tennessee. That's a good thing because the Vols lacked in many areas.

4. Steve Caldwell
The Arkansas defensive end coach was treated to a celebration ice bath after the game by two of his players, Jake Bequette and Tenarius "Tank" Wright. The interesting twist is that it was the first time both of those playmakers had been able to start together since the first Little Rock game in early September. Caldwell declined interview requests early in the week. And he wasn't available after the game, either. He was playing against Tennessee for the first time since the staff there was axed three years ago. Caldwell, a native of Thayer, Mo., near Mammoth Springs, Ark., was a member of the UT staff from 1995-2008. Caldwell posed for pictures in the north end zone with family members.

5. Brandon Mitchell
The Arkansas backup quarterback got to play most of the fourth quarter. But there weren't a lot of goal line sequences to see if there are any new tricks for him in short yardage formations. Mitchell did throw a 21-yard strike to Jevontee Herndon in the fourth quarter.

6. Tyler Wilson
It wasn't the best game for the Arkansas quarterback. He was rocky in the first half when he was just 7 of 14. He missed Joe Adams when the receiver worked free on a play-action bootleg. But Wilson was solid in the second half when the Hogs rolled by a 28-0 count. Wilson was 9 of 12 in the second half. He said he took a hit that left him a little woozy during parts ot the first half.

7. Justin Worley
The freshman UT quarterback had some solid moments, but did throw a key interception to close the first half after the Vols had driven to the UA 5-yard line with a chance to close within 21-14. From there it was all downhill. He looked flustered in the second half when there were delay of game penalties and erratic throws. To his defense, the Vols had no running game. They made just 138 yards on 42 carries, most of them on "Wildcat" draws when Worley was not at quarterback.

8. Turnovers and penalties
This was a non factor in the game. The Hogs forced only one turnover. They had only one when the game was on the line, a long pass that Wilson had sail possibly beause of the gusty wind that was over 30 mph at times. There was a blown replay decision when Tennessee fumbled on the game's opening possession. Perhaps it was the ghost of Preston Watts returning in the booth. Watts was the SEC referee who cheated the Hogs out of the Liberty Bowl in 1971, gift wrapping a UT victory just before Christmas. Arkansas had seven penalties for 58 yards. That is one of their better efforts in SEC games over the last couple of seasons.

9. Physicality
The Hogs did fine in this area. Petrino thought the running game blocking was decent. The defensive front won its share of battles, too, although the lack of a serious pass rush was sometimes obvious. The Hogs had such a key advantage in speed among the skill positions that it didn't matter how many times anyone got whipped up front.

10. Atmosphere
The Arkansas crowd was good. The noise level was a factor in UT's execution, said Arkansas players afterwards. For certain, it was among the best crowds in Fayetteville, but perhaps not as raucous as last week when the home fans were at their best. A big crowd turned out north of the stadium for the highly popular "Hog Walk" when the team comes through the tailgate area to enter the stadium.

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