State of the Hogs: UK Wins With The Run

Kentucky finds the running game in the second half, Arkansas can't find the passing game.

Well after practice Wednesday, when everyone in the media was talking to Arkansas players and coaches about stopping the pass, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker shook his head from side to side about the developing theme.

"It will come down to stopping the run," Rocker said. "It always will, it always does. Somehow, some way, you have to get the run stopped. That's what we have to do first and then throughout the game. It's all that matters."

Bingo.

That was the deal in the second half, the running game. Kentucky found it, hammering the Hogs on the ground after intermission. And, just as important, the Wildcats took away the Hogs' vaunted ground game.

Who would have thought it, that Kentucky could out gain Arkansas, 162 to 83, on the ground in the second half? And, with the Hogs still sputtering with the passing game, that was the difference in a 42-29 Kentucky victory.

There were big plays on both sides in the kicking game and the turnovers were even at three. What it came down to in the second half was dominance at the line of scrimmage by the Wildcats. In the final 11:40, the UK lead in total yards was a staggering, 172 to 33.

"We got our tail kicked, simple as that," said Reggie Herring, the Arkansas defensive coordinator. "The disappointing thing in the second half was our inability to stop the run.

That's what we came in thinking we could do, stop the run and they ran it down our throat.

"They came out in the opening drive of the second half, ran it down our throat and we never recovered. And, we did just enough to screw it up.

It was mind boggling the way we played so poorly in spots. We'd do all right and then look like we never played. We could do all right it seemed if we could get ‘em in a passing situation, but we couldn't do that because of the way they ran it.

"When you give up the run like that it's not a sign of a good team and not a sign of a good coach. That's all on me."

The guys up front saw a lot of double teams in the second half and the Kentucky backs were slicing through into the secondary on draws and straight hand-offs.

"They baited us up the field on the pass rush," said defensive end Antwain Robinson. "Then, they started to double team the edge on some wide stuff. The draws tied us down in the second half after awhile."

Senior linebacker Weston Dacus, sidelined with a concussion for much of the second half, agreed with Herring.

"They just came out in the second half and ran it all over us," he said. "They flat out out-physicalled us."

Offensive coordinator David Lee was just as disappointed. He said the Hogs "couldn't make plays" in the passing game.

"Our passing game is inconsistent," Lee said. "We couldn't move the chains because of that. The run game was good, but we couldn't convert with the pass. We really miss Marcus Monk.

"We have to go back and regroup. We made some mistakes to let Kentucky back in, then we overcame it. You just couldn't ever get totally in control."

Lee said the lack of execution in the passing game was on both ends. Quarterback Casey Dick made some poor throws, but the wideouts didn't give him much help.

"We had one ball taken out of our hands and dropped some others, but Casey was behind some receivers," Lee said. "That's all disappointing."

Dick was pointing at himself in the locker room, but teammates didn't want to hear about that.

Seconds after a group of reporters left his locker, teammates came to Dick's side. Senior receiver Robert Johnson and junior tailback Darren McFadden were quick with encouragement in the quarterback's ear. McFadden slapped the quarterback on the tail before his talk.

"We were both telling him that we believe in him and he's our quarterback," Johnson said. "I told him I was going to call him tonight and tomorrow. I've been through this stuff. He made some good throws and (the wideouts) didn't put them away. We have to help him.

"I know what Casey is feeling. He wants to take the blame. It's not what happened. We all played in this one."

Still, Dick knows what is coming this week. He expects to hear plenty about his performance. "It comes with the territory," he said. "The quarterback is going to get that. You have to be able to throw and catch the ball. It's on me.

"If people want to talk bad about me or the team, it doesn't matter. We know and I know that all we have right now is the players on this team. We are not going to let go of the rope. I know what it's going to be like and it comes down to blocking out everything but each other."

Perhaps it comes down to blocking and getting off blocks, or simply just catching the football.

"Whatever, we have to finish," offensive guard Robert Felton said. "Two straight weeks, we didn't finish. We had ‘em by the throat. It was there for us. We didn't finish. It comes down to finishing what you start."



Reggie Herring





Fred Bledsoe and Patrick Jones combine to tackle Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson for a safety in the fourth quarter.





Matt Hewitt





Darren McFadden





Felix Jones


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