Arkansas held on to the football for two thirds of the game. They tried to slowly beat A&M to death with a rolling pin and just let the hemorrhaging commence. I was sore watching Arkansas execute on offense. They maul. They seek collisions. They thorougly dictated the pace of Saturday night.
Do you feel like you hardly saw the A&M offense Saturday night? That's because they only ran 49 plays - 17 of which were in the first half. For comparison, we ran 80 against Arizona State -- 60% more. 80+ plays per game is the goal and norm for a Sumlin offense.
For further comparison, Alabama ran 101 plays against Ole Miss last week. Alabama. A team wired much more like Arkansas than A&M had more than double the opportunities from scrimmage.
Point is, Saturday night was a shockingly small sample size.
Here's the incredible:
Texas A&M averaged 8.6 yards per play against the Hogs. I don't care how you slice it - that is doing a lot right on offense and capitalizing on an arsenal of super-gifted playmakers.
Only three teams had more yardage per play than the Ags on Saturday - Baylor, Georgia, and Houston. Their opponents? Rice, Southern, and Texas State (hi, Fran!) respectively.
Arkansas has issues on defense, but they are in a different stratosphere than the aforementioned teams.
The lingering issues:
- Short yardage. The A&M offense can rip off 20+ yard plays in a way that almost no one in the country can. This is the result of scheme, exceptional athletes everywhere, and yes - play calling. Where things get dicey is when every damn person in the stadium knows A&M needs to gain one or two yards. Crucial third downs, goal-to-go, etc. It's like asking a Ferrari to plow the snow in your driveway. Not an apt analogy for Texans, but you get the point.
- Offensive line cohesion. This is obviously tied to the previous bullet. I believe there are at least a couple NFL-bound guys in this unit. Dave Christensen was hired for a very specific purpose - fix o-line issues and develop a running game between the tackles. Against non-shit defenses, we're still figuring it out. Annoyingly, there is very little edge or nastiness. Where are the killers?
- The A&M offense is comically good. It's efficient, electric, and can run good defenses out of the stadium in a hurry. Watch some Auburn tape if you need a dose of gratitude in your life.
- Short yardage needs work. The Ags left eight points on the table in regulation because they couldn't punch it in inside the Arkansas 10.
- Arkansas just laid out the blue print on how to beat Texas A&M. Mississippi State is going to attempt to duplicate. Alabama and LSU can take Bert strategies and execute with better athletes.
- Stop clamoring for everyone to get fired when there's a hiccup on offense. This unit is one of the very best in the country. Jake Spavital is supervised by a man who forgets more about a football offense in a day than most of us will know in a lifetime. If Spav isn't the man for the job, Sumlin will make a move after the regular season.