Hogs can't run to victory
Posted: September 21, 2013 at 9:15 p.m.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema once said "people don’t want to play football for four quarters."
The Razorbacks seemed to be that team in their 28-24 loss to Rutgers Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium.
The Razorbacks were able to use the running game in the fourth quarter to overcome a 21-17 deficit against Samford and solidify a win against Southern Miss in their two previous nonconference games. But against Rutgers, Arkansas could not establish the running game in the final period and blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"Going back to last spring and early fall camp, I told our guys that every Saturday there is a team that comes out a winner and a team that comes out a loser," Bielema said. "And sometimes, a team does some things to give the ballgame away before the other team in part, wins it. I'm not taking anything from Rutgers. They're a tremendous football team that played a four-quarter game and did a really nice job of executing in the fourth quarter when we didn't."
Arkansas rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the final period against Samford to beat the Bulldogs 31-21. Against Southern Miss, the Razorbacks held the ball for 13 minutes, 7 seconds in the fourth quarter, running the ball 19 out of 20 plays.
The Razorbacks produced just three yards on the ground in six attempts Saturday during the fourth quarter, however.
“Not being able to run the ball hurt us,” Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams said. "They’re a good football team, they have a good defense and they fly to the ball. That’s what they do.”
Without starting quarterback Brandon Allen, the Razorbacks attempted a season-high 28 passes against the Scarlet Knights. AJ Derby completed 14 of 26 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.
“I think he had a good understanding of what we were trying to get done today," Bielema said of Derby. "I just wish we ran the ball a little bit better for him. That comes into everybody up front. I thought the fourth quarter was playing right into our hands, but we missed a couple of critical blocks on two runs that I think could have had big yardage for us.
"He did a nice job at other points. I think we have to catch the ball and protect him a little bit better to be able to put him in a winning situation.”
The other two Arkansas pass attempts came on trick plays. Punter Sam Irwin-Hill completed a 24-yard pass to long snapper Alan D'Appollonio to convert a fourth down and Williams threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry.
"I think the fake punt and the halfback pass, those were things that kind of have been in our system, but we knew we would have to kind of steal some first downs today in order to be productive," Bielema said. "It just wore down in the fourth quarter and we weren't able to maximize the game."
Williams and Alex Collins each rushed for at least 100 yards in the first three contests, but as a team, Arkansas combined for just 101 rushing yards Saturday. The Razorbacks gained just three yards on the ground in both the second and fourth quarter.
Collins finished the game with 63 yards rushing on 16 carries (3.9 yards per carry) and Williams was held to 25 yards on 12 attempts (2.1 yards per carry). The tandem entered the game ranked fourth and seventh, respectively, in rushing yards nationally.
Rutgers entered the game ranked fifth in the country in run defense, allowing just 59 yards per game. Arkansas ranked 11th in rush offense prior to the loss.