Howdy, friends. The dust has settled a bit and the legions of Jerryworld maintenance crews have re-sanitized the giant structure to prepare for the next corporate event. The people are gone, but shades of the wild ending may still linger in the air like tiny motes of dust. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the hard digits and pretend they make some sort of sense.
(All stats gleaned from ESPN and 12thMan.com.)
The Aggies’ 285 yards rushing and 216 yards passing marked the first time this season they’ve broken the 500 yard barrier. Progress! Maybe?
50 plus club.
Veteran Arkansas DC Paul Rhoads had prided his crew on not giving up any huge plays in their first two games. The Ags had three offensive plays of 50+ yards: the 81-yard TD to Christian Kirk on broken covrage, a 50-yard bomb to Ratley, and Mond’s 79-yard scamper (for lack of a better word...on the zone read keep that should have been a touchdown and a few more yards but it wasn’t and that’s really shitty but you know what, shit happens, and this team somehow managed to overcome it, which is a bit surprising tbh.) If you wanted you could take away those three huge plays worth 200+ yards and average out the yardage from all the other plays and hey, it wouldn’t look super-impressive. If that’s how you choose to live your life, that’s your business. We enjoy big plays though.
No negatives late
This may seem rudimentary and silly to celebrate, but on the final drive that tied the game, the offense did not get any negative plays. We should celebrate this, because an offense from even last week was not a guarantee in this regard. Mond was running the hurry-up crisply and confidently: incomplete pass, 4-yard run, 3-yard run, 7-yard completion, 3-yard run, 10-yard run, 1-yard run, 6-yard run, 5-yard run, 1-yard run, field goal. Should we have gone for the win a instead of playing for overtime, taken at least one shot into the end zone? Everyone thinks so, including us. With the way this team has played lately, there’s no guarantee that OT will go well at all. It was symptomatic of a coach who is coaching scared for his job, and that’s saddening, and will not serve us well against stiffer competition. But it somehow worked this time.
The Aggies had two players with 100-yard rushing games yesterday: Keith Ford and Kellen Mond. It was Ford’s second 100-yard game this season, and now four players have had at least one 100-yard rushing game this season through the first four games. Despite some hesitant starts, we are still managing to #RTDB.
0. Even, on turnovers. The team didn’t build on their healthy turnover margin for the year, but they didn’t chip away at it either. Thanks, Watts!
1. Interception, bad throw. This was another case of Mond staring down his receiver and forcing it. The bad news: all that was just said. The good news: it only happened once.
2. Touchdowns from Ford. We needed his senior leadership, and he provided it. Ford got into a great rhythm in the second half and carried this offense when it needed considerable help. Great game.
3/3. Field goals. LaCamera was perfect, including sending this sucker into OT.
5. Catches for Ausbon. #2 is developing a great chemistry with Mond as a go-to receiver, which is fantastic because the more DBs pay attention to him, the more likely Mond is to find a streaking Ratley or Christian Kirk just wandering loose forgotten in the back of zone coverage. Both happened yesterday.
6. Sacks, by the defense. They were all over Austin Allen yesterday. Then team had combined for seven all year before yesterday so this was a pleasant awakening.
8. QB Hurries, (per ESPN). The defensive line was getting an excellent push all night. Bringing just a fifth rusher was causing pandemonium on the Arkansas line. This front seven looked more like last season’s than they have all year.
36. Penalty yardage, on 6 penalties. Why does it always seem like so much more?
100%. The team was 2/2 on fourth down conversions. Surprisingly gutsy when it counted.
100. Yard. Kick. Return. Words are not needed here.
Do. Not. Kick. To. CHRISTIAN. KIRK. pic.twitter.com/vS3iyCOg1G— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 23, 2017
110. Yards receiving for Christian Kirk. Plus 2 touchdowns, including the game-winner in OT. Enjoy every last bit of this phenomenal player this season, folks.
The Aggies will follow up this breathtaker with a matchup Saturday against a South Carolina team who beat Louisiana Tech on a last-second field goal yesterday. Bring on the drama.