Arkansas season awards: Second-half surge, “Hunter Heave” highlight Razorbacks’ 2015
Arkansas brought so much momentum from their late 2014 surge that many analysts had the Hogs potentially winning the SEC in 2015. Three losses in September and an October loss in Tuscaloosa sandwiched around a win at Tennessee left Arkansas with a 2-4 record at the season’s midway point.
The Razorbacks caught fire in the second half of the season and used overtime theatrics, a much-improved offense, a healed receiving corps, a pair of road upsets and some highlight-reel plays to get back into the SEC West mix and qualify for a bowl.
Arkansas finished the season with wins in five of their final six games to finish 7-5, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC.
Team MVP: QB Brandon Allen
Allen put this team on his shoulders and became the unquestionable leader in the second half; this may be due in part to his newly found ability to close out games. He finished the season with 3,125 yards and 29 touchdowns, a 165.2 passer rating and just seven interceptions. His gritty performance in the four-overtime win against Auburn catapulted his stardom in the second half of the season.
Defensive MVP: LB Brooks Ellis
Ellis led the team in tackles with 101, he had seven tackles for loss, one interception, three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery.
Best Freshman: LB Dre Greenlaw
Greenlaw twice earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors. The Fayetteville native was second on the team with 93 tackles and had two forced fumbles. He had 12 tackles against LSU and a strip of Tiger quarterback Brandon Harris inside their own 20-yard line.
Biggest Surprise: WR Drew Morgan
With the Arkansas receiving unit looking more like a MASH unit, decimated with injuries, Morgan stepped in and led the team in catches (55), receiving yards (751) and receiving touchdowns (10).
Best Play: The Hunter Heave, or 4th-and-25, at Ole Miss
The play doesn’t have a distinct name, but folks will talk about it for years as if they were there. Trailing Ole Miss in overtime and facing a fourth-and-25, the Razorbacks needed to get the ball to the Rebels’ 15-yard line to keep the drive alive. Allen connected with Hunter Henry, who realized he was about 5 yards short of the 15. Before he hit ground, Henry threw an underhanded pass backwards that sailed into the air, took a bounce and landed in the arms of running back Alex Collins, who took it and raced for a first down. Arkansas eventually scored a touchdown and converted two points to earn the upset on the road.
Overall Grade: B
Very good grades on big tests at the end of the season help to offset some poor performances on pop quizzes earlier on. Wins over Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU were nice, but losses to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M still hurt.