Whoa!! How did this happen? This is the fourth time today...
So we got exposed on Saturday. We shot ourselves in the foot. We finally got what was coming to us. We rode that ride to the end. The Cheez-it bandwagon lost a wheel. Pick your poison, and your blame. There's plenty to go around. We learned a lot not just about ourselves this past weekend, but about the SEC in general. Florida showed that that chink in their armor probably really wasn't ever there. Georgia showed that even solid teams with first year QB starters still struggle. Tennessee showed that reports of their premature demise have been greatly exaggerated. Aren't you glad that Crompton saved his How I Got My Groove Back party for one more week? Yea, me too.
In our own division, we learned that Alabama knows how to kick field goals--even better than we did against Tennessee. We also learned that Ole Miss knows how to create fun new ways to blow opportunities handed to them. We should have more sympathy for the Rebels though, being that they seem to have blown their chances for a trip to Atlanta in half the time it normally takes us to do. We know that LSU also suffers from rookie QB syndrome, as talented as they may be, and we learned that no matter how hard we all hope that Mississippi State will beat OOC foes, especially those mid-majors who have beaten other BCS teams, that wishing it don't make it so.
And what did we learn about the Razorbacks, other than they may be the most schizophrenic team in the conference? They get into a shootout with Georgia and ATM, but they lay an egg against Alabama? Their offense looked pretty good to me. Is Alabama's defense that wickedly good? It must be to have shut these guys down. Or worse, is our defense that bad? Ryan Mallett looked like a pro out there. I didn't know he had played at Michigan under Lloyd Carr. I didn't know he was 6'7", either, until I saw him standing on the sidelines, dwarfing Petrino the way that Nick Saban gets dwarfed by, well, everybody. He must be the second coming of Matt Jones or something.
My hat's off to the Pigs and the way they executed their game plan. They did hit us in the mouth early and never looked back. They took advantage of everything we gave them and they figured out how to stop our offense for a half, which as it turns out, was all they needed. Maybe we needed this wake up call early, and from a team we could afford a loss from. We have our toughest games ahead, and we should be able to build on this loss, even if it is bitter going down. So for Arkansas, they get the game ball. And the following get the post game acclaim and blame.
At least we still have our stats: We're still #5 in the nation in total yards per game, with just under 490, including 4th in rushing yards, with almost 252 per game. Hey! We need this. We'll take our accolades where we can. Any of this is gravy over last year. And let's hear it for Ben Tate, who's 6th in the nation in rushing, and the leader in the SEC, ahead of notables Montario Hardesty and Mark Ingram.
Down Right There! Is Tommy Trott capable for gaining one yard after he catches the ball, or is he fair-catching it? I'll settle for one foot. How many times did he make a reception Saturday, only to be tackled immediately by the defender, always well-short of the first down? Look, get the legs moving OR run your route beyond the chains. I know you can't see the little yellow line, but I can, and you have ZERO yards after the catch.
Most hocus-pocus, voodoo, superstitious thing you'll hear all week: The one about us not being able to play a game at 11am. Yea, I know it sucks, but just like the old adage about the other team having to play in the same crappy weather you do, the other team DOES have to play at the same time we do. Look, it's just a coinky dink, but disregard the fact that we suck at 11am kickoffs on the road or at the house. Just be thankful that we don't have that many. We don't really have a choice if we want to be televised during a game that's not the most attractive match up. Arkansas is also on central time, so they had no advantage. Yes, I remember 2006 and that 11am loss to the Pigs in JHS, but unless you want to petition Lee County moving over into God's time, you're just going to have to suck it up and be content that you can watch the evening news and still be asleep by 10:30.
Okay, maybe there's something to this hocus-pocus voodoo: Midget running backs. Can't stand them. And we can't tackle them either. What gives? Michael Smith ran wild against us. He was like another Noel Devine. Of course, Montario Hardesty isn't really a small guy, and he only really had one good half. Darren McFadden was a big guy, but he killed us in 2006. We neutralized him one year later, so I guess that balances out. I still hate people being able to run against us, though. I take it hard when one man beats us.
Worst Trend: Tie--1) Being 0-2 against the turncoat Petrino since he came back to the SEC, and 2) Being 5-5 against Arkansas this decade. We may end up being .500 with LSU the last 10 years, too. That's manageable, but this? Arky seems to always have something waiting for us. Maybe they've got us spooked, kinda of like Florida thinks we have their number all of a sudden since we won the last two games against them on Superman's watch.
Allstate Good Hands: To our secondary, who couldn't keep their hands off Arkansas receivers all day long, and were flagged appropriately. Okay, some of those were pretty weak calls, and some of those catches made by the opposition were just spectacular. Once again our receivers were neutralized, and the throws to the backs were pounced on immediately by the defenders.
It rains, it pours: Turnovers, sacks, and penalties hadn't been a problem for this young team, right up until Saturday, but three out of three ain't bad--unless you're besieged all at once, which we were. Foot, meet bullet.
Can't believe it's not butter: A lone chop block call. I still thought it was us and we were on defense. The refs got the number of the offender wrong, so I missed the replay and was afraid of rewinding it lest the umps changed their mind and flagged Lee Ziemba on the sidelines...
Most Embarrassing: Watching the Florida-LSU game later that evening and being reminded that SEC schools are supposed to play DEFENSE. The 9-7 victory in Fayetteville our last trip there should remind you, lest you forgot. Sixty-seven points in an Auburn-Arkansas game? I don't even know you anymore...
So did we deserve to get our clocks cleaned by Arkansas? Damn right we did. We earned it. Does that mean we have a worse team? Hard to say, but I will say this. Every team is going to match up differently with every other one. We suspected that Arkansas might give us more than we bargained for, but they could fizzle against the rest of their schedule. They had all the answers for us. By the time we figured it out, it was almost too late. We did make a valiant comeback. That's something I dare say you wouldn't have seen in a Tuberville team. They would have folded easier than a bingo hall chair. I was proud the way our guys didn't say die, even as they tempered their run with a few more missteps. Just wasn't our day. Maybe this was the game we were supposed to win but wouldn't. I think our signature win is yet to come and we may have just earned it this past weekend.