Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel made one wrong read all day, a pass into the flats to running back Ben Malena. Senior cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew exploded to the play and blasted Malena for a 5-yard loss to mess up A&M's second possession.
That was five minutes into the game. Unfortunately, it was the first and only real big hit the Hogs delivered on the day. And it also left Kelleybrew throwing up and finished for the afternoon.
With that, the Hogs were down to a pair of freshmen at cornerbacks against a red-hot quarterback. The Hogs would come up with only one more tackle for lost yardage against the Aggies as Manziel produced 557 yards in a 58-10 rout.
It was turn about. The Aggies jump started Tyler Wilson's year to All-SEC honors. Wilson threw for 510 against the Aggies last year. The Arkansas defense tried to do that for Manziel on Saturday.
Manziel threw for 453 and ran for another 104. Defensive end Chris Smith chased him down for a 1-yard loss on a second-and-3 play near the goal line. That was about it for the UA defense that appeared more intent in building a picket fence around Manziel than rushing the redshirt freshman.
Manziel was so effective that it ultimately led to extra chances for the UA offense. The Aggies poured it on to the tune of 716 total yards of offense, 9.1 per snap. The average per run was 6.8, mainly because of Manziel's 52-yard scamper.
The Arkansas numbers weren't bad on offense, but they didn't reflect on the scoreboard because of turnovers and key penalties. The Hogs snapped it 98 times for 515 yards.
Wilson completed 29 of a school record 59 attempts for 373 yards, but he had only one touchdown pass. Most of it was to Cobi Hamilton, but none of it was easy like last year when Jarius Wright found open spaces in the middle of the field.
Hamilton caught 11 passes for 162 yards, but he had to pay for those yards with some tough hits. The Aggies were mainly step for step with the big, rangy wide receiver.
"We had a lot of total yards and first downs (25) in this game, but unfortunately they don't count for points," Wilson said. "In football, you get points for touchdowns and we didn't get many. We moved it between the 20s but we struggled in the red zone.
Indeed, A&M converted seven times on eight trips inside the 20-yard line. The Hogs got their five times and scored just once.
Wilson bemoaned a lost scoring chance late in the second quarter when the Aggies led only 13-10. Hamilton caught a pass for 28 yards and Knile Davis rambled 28 on back-to-back plays to get to the A&M 19-yard line.
From there, it got ugly. The Hogs lost 7 yards while recovering a Davis fumble. Then, the Hogs had a procedure penalty for not enough on the line of scrimmage, erasing a nice gain. Wilson was incomplete off Brandon Mitchell's hands then, was intercepted on third-and-21.
The next Arkansas possession ended at midfield when coaches elected to pass on a fourth-and-2 chance after Demetrius Wilson hauled in a 17-yard pass that was ruled good after a review. The quarterback said he understood the reason a punt was ordered.
"We went for it on a similar situation the last week and it hurt us," Wilson said. "I think we learned from that."
No, they just learned that they couldn't turn it over to the defense in favorable field position. After the punt, the Aggies took one play to cover the 80 yards. Manziel hit the bomb when both corner and safety bit on a play-action fake.
In going from 13-10 to 27-10 with three offensive plays -- 29, 10, 11 and 80 yards. There was nothing good that happened other than yards in the stat book the rest of the way for the Hogs.
It was much like the 52-0 loss to Alabama that Wilson sat out with an injury. He talked about a "give up" attitude afterwards in an unusual post-game talk for someone who didn't play. He challenged his teammates and said they fought back despite losing against Rutgers last week. He talked then about liking "the look" on the sidelines. What did he think the look on the sidelines this time?
"It was a step back," Wilson said. "It was back where it was against Alabama. We made progress last week. Early, we moved the ball today. But we were back to the way we were, myself included."
Where do the Hogs turn?
"We just keep fighting," Davis said. "We'll never quit. I am not surrounded by quitters. I thought the offensive line fought for us today."
However, Davis called it "another bad game" in his opening remarks.
"We've got to play better," he said. "Our season is going south, but we have to resurrect it."
Defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said the 716 total yards "can't happen. It's very disappointing. It just can't happen. I give them credit because they do what they do very well. But we have to be better than that. All we can do is continue to push our players and we will."
Haynes said the plan was to maintain rush lanes to keep Manziel bottled up.
"You have to maintain leverage, that's what football is," he said. "He's very good, but we let him run around too much."
Can the Hogs stay together?
"I truly don't worry about that," Haynes said. "We have a tight group. We just have to stay away from the newspapers. We will close ranks and we will get better."
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated