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Arkansas Razorbacks Football: Toledo Loss Five Factors Review

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What in the world happened?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more mystifying results from Saturday was the Arkansas Razorbacks falling to the Toledo Rockets 16-12. It came despite the fact that Arkansas outgained Toledo 515-318 with Brandon Allen throwing for 412 yards. How could this happen?

I'm using the Five Factors of winning method to try to shine some more light on this result. The only plays taken out below are the "team" rushes that Toledo had along with the intentional safety.

Explosiveness

The Rockets fared a little better in this phase of the game, mostly.

Team Runs 10+ Pct. Passes 20+ Pct. Explosive Pct.
Arkansas 4 12.9% 3 5.7% 8.3%
Toledo 3 13.6% 4 10.5% 11.7%

It's slightly deceiving since Allen completed eight more passes between 15 and 19 yards in length. If you pick 15 yards as your explosiveness threshold, then the percentage of passes that count as explosive goes up to 22.6% and the overall percentage jumps up to 19%.

Anyway, the Hogs gave up more big plays than they probably should have. Allowing a conversion on 3rd-and-15 after Toledo's early punt block was particularly egregious, as it was the difference between the eventual touchdown that the Rockets got and a field goal attempt. During every Toledo scoring drive, Phillip Ely completed a pass of at least 24 yards.

Efficiency

By this measure, things largely don't look so bad for Arkansas.

Team Run SR Pass SR Overall SR Red Zone SR
Arkansas 41.9% 49.1% 46.4% 17.6%
Toledo 36.4% 39.5% 38.3% 30.0%

The Hogs were better everywhere on the field except for the red zone—and even then, holding Toledo to a 30% success rate is not bad. Toledo has a good offense with an Alabama transfer running the show at quarterback. Holding the Rockets to 16 points, 5.6 yards per play, and a below average success rate was good. But, remember the last section. Even though Toledo was subpar on a down-by-down basis, those big plays that the Razorbacks allowed made up for the inefficiency.

As for the red zone, Allen was apparently too hyped up when he got down there. He missed an open Hunter Henry three times in the back of the end zone due to throwing too hard and too high. The first time Henry actually caught it, but he had to jump so high that his momentum took him out the back of the end zone by less than a foot. On the next play, Allen threw his end zone interception. The latter two overthrows were on the final two drives of the game when completing either would've put his team ahead. Allen was sharp overall, but those three overthrows couldn't have come at worse times.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR 3Q SR 4Q SR
Arkansas 56.3% 50.0% 42.1% 41.4%
Toledo 43.5% 33.3% 46.2% 22.2%

The Hogs were fairly hot early on, but so was Toledo. The Arkansas defense really stepped it up late to allow the offense chances to win.

Efficiency by Player

I really want to put in a good word for Allen here.

Player Comp. Pct. Pass Eff. Yards/Att Sacks Pass SR
Brandon Allen 60.4% 121.9 7.8 0 49.1%

His passing efficiency isn't all that high because he had a pick and no touchdowns. However, he still completed a good percentage for a decent average with a pretty good success rate. One of every five of his attempts went for at least 15 yards, and he still did a good job despite not having much help from the run game.

Yes, he was pretty bad in the red zone. But the red zone is supposed to be where Arkansas loads up and pounds the rock with the run game. Plus, Allen isn't supposed to be throwing 53 times in a game. If someone told me that he would throw 53 passes in a single contest, I'd guess that Arkansas lost that game. His job is supposed to be supplementing the run game and not turning it over. One pick in 53 attempts is an interception percentage of 1.9%, which is excellent.

Don't blame Allen for this loss. If not for him having a good overall game, Arkansas would have lost by more. Games aren't supposed to be put on his shoulders.

Player Targets Catches Yards Yards/Target SR
Keon Hatcher 17 7 92 5.4 35.3%
Hunter Henry 11 8 117 10.6 63.6%
Drew Morgan 6 5 77 12.8 83.3%
Jared Cornelius 6 4 41 6.8 50.0%
Cody Hollister 5 4 65 13.0 80.0%
Jeremy Sprinkle 3 1 5 1.7 33.3%
Alex Collins 2 2 9 4.5 0.0%
Rawleigh Williams III 1 1 6 6.0 0.0%

Most of these guys had great days, which again speaks to Allen's mostly good day. Hatcher's yards per target and success rate don't impress, but some of that had to do with him being targeted on several quick screens that didn't go anywhere. He also had a brutal drop on third down that killed a drive in the second half.

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Alex Collins 20 2.7 40.0%
Kody Walker 5 3.4 40.0%
Brandon Allen 3 10.7 66.7%
Damon Mitchell 1 5.0 100.0%
Rawleigh Williams III 1 4.0 0.0%
Keon Hatcher 1 0.0 0.0%

Arkansas really could've used Jonathan Williams. Collins wasn't 100% thanks to spending time in the hospital during the week with an infection, while Bielema held Kody Walker out of the second half after Walker hurt his thumb in the first. Neither Collins nor Walker had a good game, so having a healthy Williams could have been the difference between win and loss.

"Could have been" being the operative words there. Arkansas's offensive line had a terrible day, and it made me wonder if those guys are actually too big. They looked slow, with Toledo defenders running past them or around them throughout the game. When they weren't getting blown past, too frequently they were getting flagged for holding or hands to the face. The tight ends were also awful in run blocking and got flagged, so maybe Toledo's defense is just that awesome (it's not). This bodes poorly for conference play.

The Arkansas defense did a good job with Toledo's primary receiver Corey Jones, limiting him to 4.7 yards per target on 13 targets with a 38.5% success rate. It didn't do as well against primary rusher Damion Jones, who went for 6.2 yards per carry with a 54.5% success rate. Ely's final line doesn't impress much—55.3% completions, 116.3 PE, 6.2 YPA, 39.5% success rate—but he completed several big throws at big times. He also took no sacks and was never really in danger of taking any either. The Razorback defensive line really misses Trey Flowers and Darius Philon.

Field Position

There's not a lot to report here.

Team Avg. Starting Position Plays in Opp. Territory Pct. Of Total
Arkansas Own 28 41 48.8%
Toledo Own 28 32 53.3%

Average starting position was, well, average. The teams ran a similar number of plays in opponent territory. Neither side had a pronounced edge here.

Finishing Drives

This is the big one for Arkansas.

Team Drives Trips Inside 40 Points Red Zone Trips Points
Arkansas 10 7 10 5 3
Toledo 9 5 16 3 14

Getting just ten points on seven trips inside the 40 and only three points on five red zone trips is beyond awful. I realize that Cole Hedlund missed a 41-yarder, but you can argue that Arkansas would have been in better shape if it just ran the field goal unit out the instant it got into the red zone.

This was a Murphy's Law game for the Hogs when it comes to ending drives:

  • A long snap to punter Toby Baker was bad, and Baker's attempt to salvage it got blocked. Toledo got the ball on the 25 and cashed in with a touchdown.
  • Hedlund missed that 41-yard field goal after the Hogs' offense got 1st-and-10 at the 20. Collins got stuffed for a four-yard loss on second down, and on third down a somewhat high Allen pass hit Hatcher in the hands but fell incomplete when it would've been a first down.
  • Collins got stuffed on 4th-and-1 despite running behind the largest O-line in football. He was held up in traffic and got tackled by an unblocked linebacker who went the long way around the line to get to him.
  • On the first half's final drive that began with 1:06 to go, Allen was making easy completions against Toledo's prevent defense. The drive stalled out thanks to a hands to the face penalty and a holding flag on offensive linemen.
  • Hatcher dropped a pass beyond the first down line on third down.
  • Allen nearly had Henry in the back of the end zone before throwing a pick on the next play. The drive shouldn't have happened because the preceding punt went for a touchdown but was called back thanks to a superfluous hold.
  • A 21-play drive ended with a 25-yard field goal thanks to an inability to run block inside the ten yard line.
  • 1st-and-goal at the four yard line gets backed up ten yards thanks to a hold on second down, and Allen missed Henry too high.
  • Allen misses Henry too high in the end zone on the second to last play of the game.

Bad snaps, penalties, drops, bad blocking, bad passes. You name it, and it happened to Arkansas at the end of drives.

Turnovers

Allen's interception was the only one on the game, although Arkansas turned it over on downs twice.

Overall

It's tempting to say this was a really bad sign for Arkansas because it was a loss Toledo. The Rockets are a good MAC team, but SEC squads are still supposed to beat the best of the MAC. It's also tempting to try to write it off as colossal bad luck given that Murphy's Law feel to it. It's unlikely that the Razorbacks will fall victim to all of those circumstances in the same game again.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, I think. Arkansas had better hope this was the worst game its offensive line plays all year. Towards the end of watching the game tape earlier today, I was getting angry at them for blown blocks and penalties without even having a dog in this fight.

It was clear that Arkansas planned to throw it a bunch right from the beginning. Dan Enos didn't call run plays a bunch of times, see it wasn't working well, and pivot to more of a throwing offense. He employed plenty of swing and screen passes right from the start that qualify for what coaches call "the extended run game". With Collins not fully healthy and no one close to his ability available with Williams out, Enos clearly knew he would need to win with the pass. Even against an iffy Toledo defense, that's not where Arkansas wants to be.

The penalties, missed blocking assignments, drops, high passes, and big plays allowed are all things that can be repeated. The law of averages—either its real definition or the popular misunderstanding of it—does not say that those kinds of things won't all happen again in the same game.

The Arkansas team that looked fantastic down the stretch last year is gone. Flowers and Philon anchored that defense, and Williams was there if Collins wasn't having a great day. A couple of key sacks instead of Ely sitting in the pocket for what seemed like forever and completing downfield throws would've changed this game entirely. So would having Williams to pick up Collins's slack.

Bret Bielema is still rebuilding the disaster that Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith left behind, and he's not pulling in the kinds of recruiting classes that get a program entirely turned around in just a couple of seasons. I think Arkansas will look better than this in future weeks, but I am less high on the team now than I was a week ago, and none of it has to do with the word "Toledo".