Commentary: Predictable Struggle

Arkansas' 10-3 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl wasn't that much of a surprise ... at least the way the two defenses dominated. That's the way this writer expected it to play out. The Hogs were close to the point total I figured was possible. Here's a commentary from HI.com Publisher Clay Henry on the Cotton Bowl.

I know everyone is frustrated with 50 yards of total offense ... and that's not acceptable no matter who you might play in a bowl game.

But this writer expected that kind of a game ... no real offense from either side. I thought we might get another turnover or two, and might even score with our defense ... the Hogs almost did.

I thought maybe we could get 17 points, and I guess we were close to doing that ... the pass to George Wilson to set up one TD, and Carlos Hall's scoop for a defensive TD for another. So, the game went about the way I thought.

Never did I think we could drive it on them without some help. And, they didn't give us much.

We did not play quite as well as I had hoped in a couple of areas. I thought we might do better in the passing game. I knew ... absolutely knew ... we wouldn't run it on them much.

The problems at tailback did cause some problems. Cobbs missed over one week of practice, and all of the polish work on the offense. He told me he knew he wouldn't start because he hadn't prepared in the new plays they had in with Matt Jones. I don't know if they were frustrated with Cobbs or what, but it was obvious they had no confidence in putting him in the game.

I had hoped we would see more of Talley, but maybe Houston Nutt didn't want to send that kind of message that he was going to just step right back into the lineup like nothing had happened. They did block a few plays for Brandon Holmes, especially the stretch play. Holmes got through the front line, but looked like he tried to run over the safety. He'd make 7 or 10, but didn't have the wiggle to get the home run. I think Talley might have done something special on a few of those runs.

Oklahoma's defense is one of the great ones. I talked to Merv Johnson after the game. He coached OU's offensive lines for a long, long time. He's in the radio booth now, but he watches a lot of film and sees what everyone is doing defensively. No one is playing defense as well as Oklahoma right now. He said he wouldn't want to try to block them. He said almost never do you block more than 2-3 in OU's front seven. They get off blocks so well. And, that's what I saw. I thought we had a hat on a hat to start many of the plays, and they would defeat the blocks to make plays. You just don't ever get to their linebackers.

We knew where they were, and tried to block them, but it didn't happen. They whipped us.

Do we need some work in the strength program? I don't know. I'd think it's more a case of needing better athletes. The better the genes, the better the athlete ... the better they do in the weight program. Those that think lifting more to get stronger is the answer may be right, but that's not it to me. I think you better get better athletes and better players. Then, they tend to do pretty well in the weight room.


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