Monday, October 10, 2011
Arkansas Review (AU 14 Arkansas 38)
For every positive step the defense has taken as this season has progressed, the offense has countered with an equal yet opposite reaction. Watching our offense Saturday night was painful. It reminded me of Navy or Georgia Tech or Delaware. Teams that throw the ball as a last resort only...and look horrible when they do. Quite honestly, I'm amazed we were as successful rushing the football as we were when the passing game was completely abandoned. Kudos to the offensive line for putting up great rushing stats despite Arkansas loading up the box expecting run every play.
I was extremely underwhelmed with the offensive playcalling. There's no question Coach Malzahn is running the ball nearly exclusively at the command of Coach Chizik. It's keeping us in the ball game, allowing us to win the time of possession two weeks in a row, and is a major reason in the new found success of our defense. At the same time...it's making us painfully predictable, preventing a quarterback from establishing any sort of rhythm, and apparently causing receivers to forget how to catch because all they do is block.
I really feel for Barrett Trotter. He would be the first to tell you his play has been anything remotely acceptable. But the offensive playcalling has done little to breed confidence or put Barrett in manageable situations to convert through the air. Here's a typical drive in which Barrett throws a pass...1st and 10-->Dyer up the middle for no gain. 2nd and 10-->Dyer up the middle for loss of 1. 3rd and 11-->okay Barrett, we need you now...convert 3rd and 11 for us as Arkansas throws the kitchen sink at you! He never throws on 1st down. Rarely on second. The play action pass is non-existent. Of course Gus Malzahn has forgotten more football than I have ever known, but I do know Barrett Trotter has been asked to deliver only in tremendously difficult situations when the success rate of doing so is drastically reduced.
At the same time...if we've decided to totally abandon the passing game, then Kiehl Frazier should be our QB. At least he is a threat to run the football. I guess you could continue to bring in Trotter for obvious passing situations. Or what about Clint Mosely? If the QB decision was so difficult to make, shouldn't Clint Mosely's play in the spring and summer be enough to warrant at least one series in a meaningful football game?
I truly believe Barrett could be a success in this offense. He's not far away. He received no help from his WRs. He received no help in the offensive playcalling or the offensive philosophy. He puts a little too much zip on some passes he doesn't have too. He seeks to get outside the pocket a little to quickly. He doesn't throw the ball away sometimes when he should. But he'll only be a success if we go back to throwing the football the way we did in weeks 1-3. In those weeks, Barrett Trotter was the last thing we were worried about as fans. He was the positive!
When our defense looks terrible...it's Ted Roof's fault. When our offense looks terrible...it's our player's fault. That doesn't add up to me.
Defensively, we played well enough to win the football game. That is the best offense we'll see the rest of the way. I was proud of the determination and effort put forth. We still struggle with the little things in playing zone defense, and tackling sometimes rears its ugly head, but overall this group has grown by leaps and bounds. It's now time to allow the offense to hit on all cylinders, run the true Malzahn attack without fear of how our defense will respond to more time on the field.