FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Wide receiver Keon Hatcher and running back Rawleigh Williams III both made big plays and looked good coming off season-ending injuries.
Arkansas won the game.
And that ends the list of positives to take out of the Razorbacks’ 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
The Bulldogs defense featured eight new starters, and LA Tech played a freshman quarterback — J’Mar Smith — who wasn’t supposed to be his team’s starter.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen threw two interceptions, both of which resulted in Bulldogs touchdowns.
Arkansas went for it on fourth-and-goal with a little less than seven minutes to go. Quarterback Austin Allen, under pressure, drifted back and tossed a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Cole Hedlund’s extra point gave Arkansas a 21-20 lead and, ultimately, the victory.
The Hogs were dreadful on offense for much of the second half before that scoring drive, but found their groove after Louisiana Tech’s Jonathan Barnes had his 39-yard field goal attempt with 14:14 to play clank off the left upright.
Arkansas responded with a 13-play, 77-yard, 7:37 drive, capped by the Allen-to-Sprinkle touchdown.
It’s now obvious that — at least for now — sophomore Rawleigh Williams III will be Arkansas’ main ball carrier. And that’s probably a good thing. He carried 24 times for 96 yards and looked fearless, impressive considering the frightening injury he is returning from.
Williams was especially impressive on the game-winning drive (mentioned above). He carried on four straight plays for 37 yards to open the drive.
It was interesting, though, that highly touted true freshman Devwah Whaley received only two carries for 1 yard. I know I’m not the only one who expected Whaley to be much more involved in Saturday’s game plan.
What is the offensive line going to look like next week? The Hogs’ starting unit — which was only settled following a couple weeks of tinkering by coaches — didn’t look great Saturday.
Quarterback Austin Allen was under a lot of pressure.
It was the first career start for three players, and offensive line coach Kurt Anderson has been blunt about the fact that he’ll have no problem switching things up as the season goes on.
I would expect that to happen next week.
Arkansas netted negative-4 yards of total offense in the third quarter.
What it means
This all means that unless Arkansas gets a lot better really, really quickly, TCU might win next weekend’s game in Fort Worth by three touchdowns. The Horned Frogs have an excellent defensive front — something that will probably make things quite difficult for Arkansas’ offensive line — and run the same type of offense that Louisiana Tech does.
Only they do it with Big 12 athletes.