5 Thoughts On The Texas Bowl

Recap, 5 Thoughts and what's next for each team in the Texas Bowl

Dec. 29 AdvoCare Texas Bowl
Arkansas 31, Texas 7

And You Care Because … Arkansas came up with a totally dominant performance, allowing just 59 yards of total Texas offense with 44 of them coming on a late second quarter scoring drive, finishing with a nine-yard Tyrone Swooped run. The Hogs were up 17-0 before giving up the points with a defensive fumble recovery for a score and a 36-yard Demetrius Wilson catch. Brandon Allen threw two touchdown passes with a five-yarder to Keon Hatcher late in the second quarter – and then the defense took over. The Hogs closed it out early in the fourth on a one-yard Jonathan Williams run.
What Else? Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams ran 23 times for 105 yards and a score
- Texas ran 18 times for two yards. Arkansas ran 50 times for 193 yards and a score
- Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes completed 13-of-25 passes for 57 yards, and ran five times for -32 yards and a score
- Time of possession: Arkansas 41:10 – Texas 18:50
Game Rating: D

By Pete Fiutak
1. That was the Bret Bielema Arkansas fans wanted.

Of course, Texas isn’t rocking and rolling like it should be, but the defense is still terrific and the coaching staff still had time to gear up for the Hog attack, but it didn’t matter. Texas knew what Arkansas was going to do, and it couldn’t stop it – that’s what Bielema’s teams do. When everything was rocking at Wisconsin, Bielema’s teams ran with power – 193 yards against Texas team loaded with NFL talent on the line – and they don’t commit mistakes – no turnovers and just two penalties. All of it leads to owning the time of possession, and keeping it for over 41 minutes, everything worked perfectly.

It’s hard to make too much noise in the SEC West, but Arkansas is turning into the dangerous niche that no one’s going to want to deal with. The pieces are coming into place, and this win just confirmed it.

By Rich Cirminiello
2. The history books will remember it as the Texas Bowl. But this was the Arkansas Bowl from the opening drive to the final gun.

For all that the Razorbacks have accomplished in Bret Bielema’s second season, they still needed tonight’s game against historical rival Texas to add an appropriate exclamation point to 2014. The Hogs have come a long way this year, doubling their regular season win total and performing in November like a top 15 team. But a stumble in Houston would have meant a losing season, which would have qualified as false advertising considering how much the program has evolved. A game over .500, 7-6, makes so much more sense for a riser that would win 10 games if the season started today.

Bielema and his staff have momentum, a prize more valuable than any garish trophy. Charlie Strong, whose ‘Horns slipped below break-even, on the other hand, will be saddled with a two-game losing streak. While Texas’ season required a Dramamine prescription, there’s cautious optimism that lopsided losses will be less common beginning in 2015.

By Pete Fiutak
3. It’s okay to say it … Texas isn’t a sure thing under Charlie Strong. He was a great coach at Louisville, and he’s known for his impeccable integrity, but the recruiting so far has been just okay compared to the Mack Brown era, and the team didn’t improve like it should’ve. There were little things that didn’t do right here and there – and a big thing on a missed handoff leading to an Arkansas touchdown – but the biggest problem was the inability to come up with anything on offense. Granted, the cupboard is a bit bare by Texas standards, but there weren’t any answers in an ugly, ugly performance. Again, Strong can coach, but there are few programs as pressure-packed as Texas when the results aren’t there. It was great that he got the team to a bowl, but the team didn’t do anything with the opportunity.

4. What’s next for Texas
Is there enough talent in place for Charlie Strong’s second year to be better? Step One is figuring out the quarterback situation, with Tyrone Swoopes looking to keep Jerrod Heard and others on the sidelines – the position has to be better. Johnathan Gray leads a fine group of running backs, but the O line has to be far better. Fortunately, all five starters have to be back – they have to generate more of a push. Getting more out of the receiving weapons is a must, and it’ll have to happen without Jaxon Shipley and John Harris.

The defensive front was great at times, but it’s almost certainly going to lose some key parts. End Cedric Reed is done, and Malcom Brown would be nuts not to take off for the NFL. The key parts of the linebacking corps have to be replaced with Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks gone, but super-recruit Malik Jefferson is on the way. The secondary loses Quandre Diggs and Mykkele Thompson, but there are some decent options returning – the D will be fine in time. P Michael Davidson is gone, but PK Nick Rose is back.

5. What’s next for Arkansas
Expect even more of the same with the rushing tandem of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins combining forces behind the massive offensive line. Brey Cook is the only starter lost off the front five, and all of the top targets are back. Cook and TE A.J. Derby are the only two starters gone.

The defense loses tackle-for-loss machine Trey Flowers, and the linebacking corps loses Martrell Spaight and Braylon Mitchell, but the front seven will be tough around the tackle combination of Taiwan Jones and Darius Philon and MLB Brooks Ellis. The secondary has to replace Alan Turner at free safety and nickel Tevin Mitchell. The O might be strong, but the D could be every bit as good with a little bit of time. PK Adam McFain is okay, but P Sam Irwin-Hill is gone.


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