The Arkansas football team took a step forward last week, but took a step back against the Gators on Saturday.
The Razorbacks (3-3) suffered a 30-10 loss to the #18 Florida Gators (4-1) Saturday in a uninspired game by the Hogs. Arkansas is still winless in The Swamp and now 1-8 all-time against Florida.
A fumble by quarterback Brandon Allen gave the Gators prime field position early in the first, but Florida couldn’t capitalize as freshman Dan Skipper got his hand on the field goal attempt for his second block of the year.
The first quarter of the game looked incredible for the Razorback offense and it looked like the Hogs would give the Gators a tough game. Arkansas rushed for 81 yards in the first quarter which is about 15 yards more than Florida’s defense has given up in an entire game all season.
Jonathan Williams went in for a nifty 4-yard touchdown in which he reversed field and scored giving the Hogs the early 7-0 lead.
The Gators responded with a field goal on the ensuing drive to make it 7-3 early in the second.
Allen gave Florida a gift and a ton of momentum on Arkansas’ next drive when he threw a pick-six to Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy and the Gators began to cruise to a victory after that.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy for the Gators had a career day against the Arkansas’ secondary going 16-of-22 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores were to the athletic Florida receiver Solomon Patton, for 51 and 38 yards each to give the Gators the 24-7 lead early in the third.
Arkansas’ offense by this time was all sorts of out-of-sync and could only muster up a Zach Hocker 30-yard field goal for the entire second half which put the game at 24-10.
Florida put the nail in the coffin mid-way in the fourth with a 9-yard shovel-pass touchdown to Valdez Showers to go up 30-10.
Arkansas would drive down the field, basically only because of personal foul penalties against Florida, but couldn’t punch it in and turned the ball over on downs with 55 seconds remaining.
Despite early success on the ground, Alex Collins ended up with only 54 yards on 13 carries. Williams finished with 8 carries for 32 yards and a score.
Allen had a horrendous game going 17-of-41 for 164 yards, no scores and a pick-six thrown for the second straight game.
Give some credit to the Florida defense as they did play well, but the Arkansas offense helped them out a whole lot over the course of the game.
Many times the ball was under thrown by Allen or just not even a catchable to a wide-open receiver. Other times the ball would bounce right off the hands of an open receiver with no defender around as there were plenty of dropped passes.
If you saw Allen’s jersey by the end of the game, you know that he had been taken to the ground way too many times so the offensive line play wasn’t helping matters either.
The secondary on defense was absolutely terrible at times trying to make arm tackles which turned into touchdowns for the Gators. Also, the horrible angles that the defenders would take on the ball or the receiver running with it made it easy for Florida.
Overall it was just a sloppy game by the Razorbacks. Nothing was being executed properly and if you don’t throw it to the open man, make the catch when the ball hits you in the hands, or simply tackle the receiver with the ball, then you are not going to be successful.
There were very few things that you could take away as being positive from the game, and once again the defensive line played an outstanding. They held the Gators rushing attack to minimal gains and continue to anchor the defense.
Kicker Zach Hocker, who has been tremendous this season, just might be the one of the best kickers in the nation and will be playing on Sundays here soon.
Also, you have to applaud the effort of two true-freshman offensive linemen, Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, for starting at both guards spots as they are getting much needed playing time as they will be an integral pieces in the years to come.
It’s hard to try and find positives from loss, but you have to find something to keep the players confidence up and fans decently happy.
It is still Bielema’s first year, with not a whole lot of talent, and in a major rebuilding phase. Just give it time.
Losing isn’t fun for anyone, and Arkansas has now lost three straight, but have no time to feel sorry for themselves. A win is definitely manageable when #14 South Carolina (4-1) comes to Fayetteville this weekend after only beating Kentucky by a touchdown.