It’s easy to immediately go to things that we need to fix in this game, but let’s talk about a few things before we get going to set the scene. Good things:
- This is our first win at Starkville since 2012.
- We hadnt beaten the Bulldogs in back to back years since 2012/2013
- We went on the road and beat an SEC team by two touchdowns
So before we get going with the stuff that needs to be fixed and corrected and what not, take a second to realize that this was a good win. Be happy.
Side note, HOW IN THE HELL DID LSU LOSE TO THIS TEAM
This game was a good/bad/ugly kind of thing so that’s how I’m going to break it down.
The defensive line was monstrous today. Rushing 3 guys for most of the game and we ended up with 6 sacks. That’s tremendous. Clemons, Leal, and Peevy were phenomenal all game. Elko called a helluva game and really maximized his talent advantage.
And how about the linebackers? Buddy Johnson has now strung together two straight weeks of excellent play marked by forced fumbles and big hits. Aaron Hansford and Chris Russell looked damn solid throughout. That bodes well. Tackling was much improved as well. We held Miss State to -2 rushing yards. That seems pretty good, no?
The rushing game was solid. We win games when we run the ball. and today we had 34 carries for 186 yards against a defense that averaged giving up 75 yards a game.
Last but not least, the OL has now put together two straight dominating performances. Josh Henson has taken a group that struggled most of the year last year and made them into one of the best groups in the conference. Tremendous work.
AND HOW ABOUT US GETTING A PUNT BLOCK? Man it feels good to have good play on special teams!
After dominating on third down last week, we regressed to the mean and were 4/10 this week.
We had several dumb penalties that kept this game from being a total blow out. Whether it’s an errant hold on a big pass play to Ainias, or Leon giving the Bulldogs new life on a punt...we’re just not good enough to play sloppy. That has to get cleaned up.
The last bad is a big one. We dont have a killer instinct yet. We were up 14-0 in the first half, and one more score takes the wind out of the bulldogs and we go on to win huge, get our backups some playing time and get our starters some rest. But instead we couldnt get points, gave up a pick 6, and just couldnt put the final nail in the coffin. This is an issue with a scrappy Arkansas team coming up.
Jimbo’s offensive game plan...I mean we won? And maybe this team just wins ugly? But the offensive scheme was frustrating to watch. I dont know how to explain it. It wasnt just a lack of execution, it was scheme and play calling, but that’s just who he is.
Similarly Kellen played an ugly game. He was road mond today and finished 13/23 for 139 with two TDs and 1 INT. He’s a 57% passer on the road. He was a 57% passer against Alabama. He was a 57% passer on the road last year. Much like Jimbo this is who he is. He threw some nice balls today and had a couple that could have been grabbed...I dont think the pick 6 was on him because it hit Smith in the shoulder and just got a bad bounce, but yeah. It was ugly but it got the job done. So...yeah. We can be frustrated that he followed up an exceptional showing against Florida with this game, or we can say that’s the Kellen we know, and be thankful that we get Arkansas at home.
We are 3-1 going into the break, which is about as good of a scenario as we could have expected. It hasnt been perfect, but all three phases of the game have flashed at one point or another over the past few weeks.
This is a strange statement to make but Arkansas is the best team left on on our schedule. Sam Pittman has his players believing in his system, Barry Odom is a DAMN good DC and little Briles is making stuff happen. The game on the 31st is a big big big game for us—and one that wont be easy by any stroke of the imagination because you KNOW Arkansas wants to end this losing streak.
So we’ve got two weeks to clean up a bunch of stuff and get ready for a fight. Always feels good to be doing that after a solid win. Good day overall.