Two interceptions, one an arm-punt, the other a deep ball right before halftime which did little damage, take some of the shine off Patrick Mahomes' statistics, but make no mistake, Mahomes played a heck of a game against Arkansas. He was in complete command of Tech’s offense and Arkansas’ defense. He completed 26 of 30 passes, rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns, and did not take a sack. They don’t come a whole lot better than this.
DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton combined for 120 rushing yards on 14 carries (8.6 yards per tote) and a rushing touchdown. Washington, Stockton and Quinton White also pulled in six passes for 39 yards, and did solid work in pass protection. Stockton’s speed is what got him into the end zone for the clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. He is now a bona fide every-down back rather than a situational one.
Tech receivers dropped eight passes in game one, two in game two and none against Arkansas. This is progress. Reginald Davis, who continues to start in place of an injured Dylan Cantrell, had a career night with five receptions for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including Tech’s initial score. He is in the process of becoming the player people expected him to be after a promising freshman season. Jakeem Grant continued his stellar senior campaign with eight grabs for 75 yards. He also threw a perfect strike to Davis for a 72-yard touchdown on an option pass. Ian Sadler and Cameron Batson quietly did damage in the middle of the field. Devin Lauderdale had a silent night receiving, but contributed with some terrific blocking.
The line pitched its third straight shutout, again preventing the opposition from getting a single sack. Heck, Arkansas managed only one quarterback pressure, as the offensive line utterly dominated. The domination came in the ground game too as backs Washington and Stockton saw frequent daylight through the stingy Arkansas defense. Only a couple of penalties marred an otherwise flawless effort, the best of the season for this unit.
All things considered, this group held its own against Arkansas’ massive offensive line and grinding run game. Pete Robertson signaled that Tech had come to play by dropping Alex Collins for a loss on the game’s first play. Gradually the Razorback rushing attack picked up traction—especially in the second quarter—but the line did a solid job of occupying blockers and allowing the linebackers and safeties to clean up. Still, Arkansas did rush for 228 yards and the Tech pass rush didn’t bother Brandon Allen very much. It seemed as though the defensive linemen held their ground well, and were frequently in position to make plays at the line, but frequently didn’t finish the job.
Dakota Allen, the freshman sensation, had a busy game with 12 tackles from his middle linebacker spot. Malik Jenkins and Micah Awe were heard from considerably less. This group was solid enough, but didn’t contribute any big plays.
The defensive backfield had a very mixed outing. On the one hand, Jah'Shawn Johnson had a huge game with 16 tackles, one tackle for loss, and the forced fumble and recovery that slammed the door on the Hogs. Furthermore, Tevin Madison recorded an interception, and Keenon Ward made a huge hit on big tight end Jeremy Sprinkle that prevented a long gainer for the Razorbacks. On the other, Tech’s pass coverage was poor. J.J. Gaines was a step slow the whole night, and the Arkansas aerial attack played pitch and catch for most of the evening as Brandon Allen completed 16 of 21 passes for 196 yards. There were also more than a few missed tackles by the DBs. Fortunately, however, the secondary, which got little help in the form of a pass rush, didn’t allow the Hogs many explosive plays, and nothing longer than 34 yards.
It wasn’t the best of outings for the special teams. Jakeem Grant was completely bottled up on kick returns, and Michael Barden missed a field goal that was little more than an extra point—to be fair to Barden, the snap was off target. Tech did well in kickoff coverage. Taylor Symmank’s kickoffs were good, but he never got an opportunity to punt.