Upon Further Review: Arkansas Analysis

Rutgers won a huge non-conference game at Arkansas, leaving Fayetteville with a 35-26 victory. The offense was sensational and the defense played hot-and-cold. As it will do after every game this season, ScarletReport.com took a long look at the game and offers an in-depth analysis of what worked, and what needs to get better.

Watching the game live is one thing, and presents a real-time look at what is happening on the field.

However, pop on the game tape and you may see something different, or further validation of what your eye thought it saw while watching live.

After each Rutgers game, ScarletReport.com will take a look at a slowed-down, rewound version of what took place on the field.

Rutgers won at Arkansas, leaving town with a 35-26 win as quarterback Gary Nova and the offense put up huge numbers and the defense made a few timely stops, but so much more took place in the game.

What To Like

  • This has been a recurring theme, and again deserves high billing. It is the game-planning play-calling of offensive coordinator Dave Brock, who continued to do a stellar job. He was able to get Rutgers' receivers matched up 1-on-1 against Arkansas inferior defensive backs, and gave the offense a chance to make big plays down the field because of the matchup advantages.

    He also moved the pocket with Nova, decided to let running back Jawan Jamison run "delays" out of shotgun sets, which was a new wrinkle, and basically called a perfect game.

    Play design is huge, and on Jamison's touchdown catch in the first half it was textbook. Mark Harrison was lined up wide right and ran his route across the middle to clear the cornerback from the side. That allowed Jamison to be matched in open space with a linebacker who was late to recognize the play.

  • In-game coaching is superb, including the fake punt. Perfect execution as Rutgers had six players to block six Arkansas defenders.

  • The play of Nova was spectacular. He connected on balls down the field, but also showed arm strength in placing several passes – two to Tim Wright on 8- to 12-yard passes over the middle – into a small window.

    There also was not one throw Arkansas had a chance to intercept, he made adjustments at the line of scrimmage and he felt pressure.

    Jawan Jamison
  • Jamison was valuable in running the ball, but he was also huge in blitz pickup. The backs picking up the blitz the last two years was an issue, but Jamison was stellar. His pre-snap reads of where the blitz was coming from made a huge difference, and there were times he was in position to block the blitzing defender before said defender made his move toward the quarterback.

  • The defensive game plan made plenty of sense, and was varied and adjusted. The issue for coordinator Robb Smith's unit was poor tackling and poor execution many times.

    Focusing on the good part here, Smith kept changing looks and pressure points, which was needed against a veteran quarterback like Kyle Wilson.

    Rutgers opened the game with three defensive linemen and blizted two linebackers off the same edge. On the third play of the game, Rutgers went with two defensive linemen (Scott Vallone and Jamil Merrell).

    As the game wore on Smith mixed between three and four defensive linemen, and more times than usual dropped eight players into coverage.

    Another big adjustment was moving from man-to-man to zone, which is why safety Duron Harmon was in position to catch the fortuitous deflection and intercept the pass to clinch the win.

  • The defensive line was stout against the run, which allowed for the linebacker to fill gaps. Arkansas didn't run the ball well because Vallone was such a disruptive force. On numerous occasions he got penetration in the run game and forced the running back to alter the direction of the play.

  • The swarming defense. It wasn't often an Arkansas ball carrier was brought down by one player, but the philosophy of having speed on defense showed big against an SEC team as Rutgers' defense was ever-pursuing.

  • The hours and hours of film study paid off on Brandon Coleman's first touchdown catch, a corner post in which he was wide open. Rutgers went hurry-up after Tim Wright's catch resulted in a first down.

    Arkansas was slow in setting for the next play, and it showed as the cornerback was late getting set. As a result, he was playing catch-up from the snap, and when Coleman feigned a most toward the middle of the field, the cornerback was quick to move in that direction. It allowed Coleman a free path to the corner of the end zone and an easy touchdown.

    What To Work On

  • Penalties earned a permanent spot in film review. Four false starts are inexcusable. Ten more penalties is not a good path to take, either.

    Logan Ryan
  • The Rutgers secondary was not good as Lorenzo Waters and Logan Ryan both struggled.

    Waters had to be replaced by Wayne Warren, and then Mason Robison has he struggled with coverage and angles all game. It was a tough matchup for Khaseem Greene to cover Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton in the slot in the fourth quarter on the 80-yard touchdown play, but it would have been a 20-yard gain had Waters taken the proper angle and made what should have been a routine play.

    Instead, Waters ran to where the ball would have landed at Hamilton missed, and by doing so he took himself out of the play.

    There was also a play on Arkansas' first drive in which Waters took a bad angle and it resulted in a long completion.

  • Ryan had trouble defending Arkansas size and speed. Several times he was beaten by a few steps, and there was also an instance in which he used poor technique and it resulted in a Hamilton's 57-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.

    On the play, safety Duron Harmon was blitzing. Ryan was matched up on Hamilton on the outside, and played soft coverage. When Hamilton cut across the middle, Ryan did not have the closing speed to defend the pass or make the tackle. With Harmon blitzing, there was no one in the back to clean up the play.

  • Run-game execution. This was a back-and-forth one since Rutgers did run for 128 yards and Jamison topped the 100-yard mark and finished with 118.

    However, the running game struggled against a strong and quick defensive line. The tipping point in putting this in the "What to Work On" category was Jamison's 24-yard run in the fourth quarter coming out of his own end zone. It was a phenomenal run, but one needed because of a missed block that could have resulted in a safety and changed the outcome of the game.

    The play was designed to go off right tackle, but right guard Andre Civil missed his block on the linebacker, who was there to fill the hole as Jamison stared at a safety. Jamison's ability to alter the direction of the play saved Rutgers in a huge way since it would have made it a one-score game and given the Razorbacks the ball.

  • Field goal kicker Kyle Federico needs to get back on track. He looked like a freshman on his first-quarter miss, when the ball never had a chance, and his fourth quarter miss was a bad push.

    Rutgers played for a field goal on the latter play, and came away empty in what could have turned a one-possession game into a two-possession game.

    Lorenzo Waters
    Not To Worry

  • Rutgers allowed 492 yards of offense, but part of it is the style of play both teams used on offense. Arkansas ran a hurry-up with a senior, future NFL quarterback. The Scarlet Knights may not see as an explosive offense the rest of the season.

    Keeping Perspective

    Gary Nova
  • Nova was sensational, and now has put together back-to-back strong performances on the road. He is also a sophomore, and it is unrealistic to think his level of play will remain at this level. It would be great for Rutgers if it did, but that rarely happens for sophomores. He is playing great, but to think there won't be a bump or two in the next eight games is unrealistic.


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