State of the Hogs: Too Much Speed

The old saying is still correct. Speed kills and that's exactly what Georgia did to Arkansas, a 45-32 thumping that many did not see coming after two near misses for the Razorbacks.

LITTLE ROCK -- Bret Bielema has said it after almost every loss. It's repeated by players now. They know the mantra of their coach.

Don't let a team beat you twice. And, perhaps no time does it make more sense than after Georgia scored 31 points in the second quarter on the way to a 45-32 victory at War Memorial Stadium.

Perhaps Alabama did beat the Razorbacks twice. Or, maybe it was a combination of losing leads in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M and Alabama that did them in. But for whatever reason, the Hogs were a no show in that first half, losing focus and their defense to dig a huge hole that not even their first decent fourth quarter could fill.

Bielema was asked if the Alabama loss was the reason for the no-show against Georgia? He didn't sense any issues during solid practices during the week, but it was a Razorback team that he didn't recognize in the first half against the Bulldogs.

"The biggest thing, when you work very hard, they have gone a very long time without feeling the reward," he said. "When you are losing, it seems like every bounce, everything goes against you."

For sure, he didn't see a letdown coming after the 14-13 Alabama loss, but "looking back, you'd say probably. We had a good Tuesday practice and all the way through the week on Wednesday and Thursday. But it was very disappointing (play), the response all the way through that half."

With tough games still looming, Bielema was asked if there could still be a turnaround to get three more wins for the needed six to become bowl eligible? He would only look to this week's game against Alabama-Birmingham.

“We're going to try to get to four (wins),” Bielema said. “And that's this week. It's a 1-0 mentality. … That mentality came more out of when I was on a losing streak as a coordinator then when we were on a winning streak.

“Because it's the feeling of that loss and all that work and you get no reward out of it except for a loss. Then it can kind of compound on you. You've got to get them to forget those things. We definitely can't let Georgia beat us twice.”

They've heard that before, but it rang true late Saturday afternoon when Bielema tried to explain how the Hogs came up empty in that first half against Georgia.

Arkansas had looked like a physical, strong SEC team until Georgia came to town. The Bulldogs -- plenty physical -- were so fast that size was of no consequence.

That old coaching adage that speed kills looked on target as Georgia rolled to a 38-6 halftime lead. The Bulldogs had too much quickness on the outside for the Arkansas offensive tackles.

“They have such a fast defense,” Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen said. “They had our number on a lot of things and they have a lot of speed.”

Bielema said, “They have speed (at outside linebacker) and they got us on some quick pressures. We wanted Brandon to step up and he did on some of those, but they beat our tackles with some inside pressures.”

It was not what anyone had expected after Arkansas lost close games the previous two outings against Texas A&M and Alabama. This one was more akin to what the Razorbacks looked like last year in back-to-back losses to South Carolina (52-7) and Alabama (52-0).

There was one brief glimpse of the Arkansas of recent weeks, a 13-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. The Hogs had the extra point blocked, perhaps a turning point if you could name one. It was all Georgia until it was too late.

The Bulldogs answered with a 5-play touchdown march with Hutson Mason passing plays of 48 and 18 that seemed to eventually set up Nick Chubb's off-tackle running. The backup to suspended star Todd Gurley -- not on the trip -- made 127 in 12 first-half runs, including touchdown dashes of 43 and 3 yards. He would finish with 202 as the Bulldogs outrushed the Hogs, 207 to 126.

Arkansas could not protect Allen and the defense seemed to miss injured middle linebacker Brooks Ellis in the middle. He didn't suit up after sustaining a bone bruise in the knee area against Alabama. The Hogs had not allowed a run of over 32 in their first six games.

Josh Williams stepped in for Ellis and was credited with 14 tackles, but they weren't all near the line of scrimmage and he was caught diving in the hole on the 43-yard dash by Chubb.

“It was exciting to see Josh,” said Bret Bielema, the Arkansas coach. “I can't say specifically if it was the case, but it looked like they ran right at him. It was a learning experience to get another mike linebacker in there.”

Williams may not have been perfect, but he didn't draw any penalties, like several of his defensive teammates. Tevin Mitchel had an unsportsmanlike penalty after a third-down stop, Braylon Mitchell was ejected for targeting, Dwayne Eugene had a face mask in a tangle away from the play on a kickoff return and Dan Skipper had a chop block personal foul.

Just as devastating were the four turnovers. Brandon Allen threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a strip from behind trying to pass. Alex Collins had a toss pitch go through his hands and for a fumble at the Arkansas 7-yard line.

Georgia padded its stats on turnover ratio with an antiseptic performance. Quarterback Hutson Mason spent most of the day handing to 230-pound Nick Chubb on power plays and sweeps. The Bulldogs improved to plus 13 on the season, tops in the SEC.

The undisciplined play frustrated Bielema, noting that he lectured Tevin Mitchel at halftime and didn't like the reaction.

“That was stupid,” Bielema said. “I will not coach that or tolerate it. Until that play, he was having a special senior season. I talked to him about it and I didn't like the response and benched him.”

He had seen a targeting call against Oklahoma on a TV game earlier in the day and had planned to use that as a coaching point, but not has his own tape to utilize. Braylon Mitchell was ejected after the review.

“Braylon was playing well,” Bielema said. “I didn't see it, but unfortunately he went high. It was reviewed, so obviously it was the correct call.”

It was the first targeting penalty called against a Bielema team.

“I take pride that we hadn't had one of those called,” he said. “I saw the Oklahoma call against Kansas State earlier in the day. I was going to take that clip and show our players. Braylon, I know he's coming hard and they both try to get lower. And that's what happens.”

Senior defensive end Trey Flowers said he felt responsible undisciplined play, too.

“We came out and didn't show up,” Flowers said. “Penalties are a big thing. Turnovers are important and we had no takeaways. You can have one of those, but you can't have all three.

“You get a stop on third down, you are supposed to be off the field. That's undisciplined play and we have to fix that. As a captain, it's on me. Coach Bielema is frustrated because he doesn't coach that way. It's uncharacteristic for us. We can't have that and be successful.”

Tight end Hunter Henry led the way with five catches for 92 yards, slipping into seams for nice gainers. He had a 4-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter after Allen floated to the right and found him all alone on a delayed release.

“That was a terrific play by Brandon,” Henry said. “We had the middle of the field open some today and we tried to split some seams.

“But we got too far behind because of a lack of discipline. We can't have that kind of stuff. You can't give the other team those kinds of mistakes.”

The losing streak goes on for the Hogs, but at least they ended one terrible drought. They scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the first since Ole Miss last November.

"We got gut checked and a lot of guys kept up the fight," Flowers said. "We just were too far back."

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