The Texas A&M Aggies and Arkansas Razorbacks played another overtime game, and it had some rather unusual aspects to it. Let's break it down to find the curiosities within.
This is based on the Five Factors of winning. I've left out A&M's two short drives at the ends of each half, as they don't really represent the regular flow of the game, and all sacks count as pass plays.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
If you wanted to see teams gain yards in chunks, this was the game for you. Only the Razorback pass attack didn't have a really high rate of explosive plays.
I'll draw your attention to the fact that only three of the Aggies' runs were explosive, yet they accounted for about 19% of the team's runs. It's because A&M didn't have that many runs. It didn't run that many plays at all, actually. Even if you include those two half-ending drives that I didn't, the team only ran 48 total plays in an overtime game. That's crazy low.
The main measure here is success rate.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
Both teams were highly efficient to go with their high rates of explosive plays. And yet: each team scored just 21 points in regulation. Are we all sure they didn't play this one with a running clock?
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
Arkansas really got things rolling with success rate after the half, but that's not the whole story. Towards the end, the A&M pass defense finally took its toll. On the Hogs' first full drive of the fourth quarter, Brandon Allen ended up scrambling on all three called pass plays. On the only called pass play of the next drive, Myles Garrett got a strip-sack on Allen. The run was still working. The pass, less so.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Kyle had a magnificent day, while Brandon's good day was marred by a pair of turnovers with a pick and the aforementioned lost fumble.
Christian Kirk is what a lot of people expected Speedy Noil to be.
I haven't seen many people call out Morgan's play in this one, so consider this a shout out for a fantastic performance.
When you've got Kyle Allen having the day he had throwing the ball, you don't need to run that many times.
|Rawleigh Williams III||8||5.8||62.5%|
This was far and away the best rushing game the Hogs have had since splattering UTEP. The line would get top marks if not for committing a bunch of penalties.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
|Texas A&M||Own 18||19||48.8%|
The special teams units in this one kept either side from having any golden scoring opportunities. In regulation the Aggies had only one possession following either a punt or kickoff at a spot better than their own 31, and the best starting field position the Razorbacks ever had was their own 25.
A trip inside the 40 means drive with a first down at the 40 or closer or a long TD from beyond the 40, while a red zone trip means a drive with a first down at the 20 or closer.
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
Only seven drives for the Aggies? Nuts. A&M ran 2.4 plays per minute of possession, while the Hogs only ran 1.7 plays per minute of possession. If you used up every second on the play clock every time and never had a fully stopped clock, you'd run 1.5 plays per minute of possession. Plays where the clock is running that are negated by penalty can push that figure even lower, but just know that Arkansas operated at a glacial pace. They also had the ball for 39:28 versus 20:32 for the Aggies.
Anyway, Arkansas blew some chances that don't show up here. Bret Bielema punted on 4th-and-2 from the A&M 48 on his first drive. Late in the second quarter, a 1st-and-10 on the A&M 41 turned into 3rd-and-19 thanks to a hold from Hunter Henry and a sack. Late in the fourth quarter, a 1st-and-10 at the A&M 42 became a doable 4th-and-3 at the Aggie 35, but a false start pushing things back five yards and Bielema punted. Arkansas is still having issues finishing drives.
A&M won this battle 2-0 after picking off Brandon Allen early and collecting his fumble late.
It's encouraging from an Arkansas standpoint to see that the run game got back on track in this one. The line also did a reasonably good job with the A&M pass rushers, allowing nearly five times fewer sacks than Arizona State did. It's also discouraging to see the penalties (11 for 93 yards) and questionable game management decisions. Punting on the plus side of the field with two yards to go and the run game that Arkansas has is not a good look.
For A&M, it's nice to see the team gut out a win in a game they didn't really ever have control over. From an explosiveness and especially efficiency standpoint on offense, it was a better performance than the Aggies' win over ASU. It was considerably worse by those measures on the defensive side though, and that defense just couldn't get off the field. The shortest drive the Hogs had on offense was a fumble-shortened five-play drive, and they had a six-play drive as well. Every other Razorback drive went seven plays or longer. It's amazing the defense wasn't completely exhausted by the end.
Even though it ended up a loss, this was a great response from Arkansas. There isn't much of a practical difference between an overtime win and an overtime loss, since college football's overtime isn't terribly representative of what goes on during games. These teams played to a draw, and that's better than I think a lot of people were expecting from the Hogs after the losses to Toledo and Texas Tech.
For the same reason about overtime not being representative, this game gives me some pause about the Aggies. With Arizona State's nasty loss to USC on the season's ledger now, A&M's opening win is headed towards the same kind of status that last year's big opening win had. We'll see if it gets all the way there, but it's on that road.
The offense was sterling. That's not my problem. Seeing the trouble the defense had getting stops is a real concern, especially since other teams in the division like LSU, Alabama, and even Mississippi State are content to pound the rock up the gut. The middle of the A&M defense just isn't as strong as the edge rushers are.