Ash: Defense Didn't Play Very Well

Arkansas wasn't surprised by the Texas A&M running game. Defensive coordinator Chris Ash said the Hogs practiced against "those plays" all week.

There were no surprises with what Texas A&M turned to in the second half of a 45-33 victory over Arkansas. Chris Ash said it was exactly the run package that the Razorbacks worked against for one week of practice.

"We didn't play very well and that's as plain as I can put it," said Ash, the Arkansas defensive coordinator. "We had good preparation. We were clean in practice, but we weren't in the game."

The Aggies hammered the Hogs in the second half with two touchdown drives that were all running plays.

"We had repetitions against all of those plays," Ash said. "We didn't align right, we didn't fit and we didn't tackle. Credit them, but it was more because of our mishaps than anything else.

"You have to account for the quarterback in those sets, but it was our mistakes in not making the plays against their running backs."

Line coach Charlie Partridge was upset with the way his group played against the Aggies, against those two drives in particular.

"Honestly, it was more run fits than anything," Partridge said. "It had to do with who was assigned to gaps. Too many were trying to do more than their responsibility and that's when you have problems. There is a ton of respect for Johnny Manziel's ability to elude and that may have figured into it. But you have to play your gaps."

Linebacker coach Randy Shannon said it was a little bit of everything.

"I'd call it team defense," Shannon said. "Sometimes it was on the line, sometimes on the linebackers and sometimes on the secondary. We each had mistakes in those two drives."

Middle linebacker Austin Jones did not play because of a hip flexor injury. But the spread may have taken him off the field, too.

"Going into the game, we knew it was going to be spread so we didn't expect him to play," Ash said. "But he was nicked up with a hip flexor issue and his ability to cover would be a problem."

Shannon said the Hogs rotated Jarrett Lake and Otha Peters at middle linebacker.

"We'd prepared for that situation in camp, moving guys around," Shannon said. "We were prepared for it. Our guys are flexible in that way. We've taught them several positions each."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was pleased with the performance of quarterback Brandon Allen, coming back from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Rutgers game.

"Brandon had some rust, but what he did was compete," Chaney said. "What showed was his competitive spirit. I probably gave him too much. There were some calls that he struggled with that he had not really had a chance to rep. So some of the things that didn't work were on me. He did well for the amount of time he'd practiced, which was not very much."

Line coach Sam Pittman said it was the first time he'd started two true freshmen. He said both Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, the two guards, performed well.

"They hadn't played guard except starting Tuesday," he said. "They are really talented, big and smart.

"You'd have to say they did well because our quarterback didn't get touched. I hate to be critical at all because they did well. I'm very proud of the way they played.

"There were times that we ran into a sonic blitz and then some other times that we hit plays against it. I would say that Travis Swanson, our center, did a great job of helping them along through the game."

Chaney said he's not afraid of playing freshmen.

"Maybe Sam only started one before, but four years ago at Tennessee, we put three freshmen linemen out there," Chaney said. "Sam only had one start before, so I'm ahead of him.

"I thought they played good. They are big young men. They have the stature you are looking for inside. It's only three feet across right there and they cover a lot of that as big as they are. I like big guys in there."

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