Last week, I wrote an article on the offense essentially expounding upon the point that they must improve. And to a large degree against Arkansas, they did improve, and did so against a pretty stout defense. So in a lot of ways, they are to be commended for their performance.
On the other hand, despite putting up a good deal of points last week and coming through in the clutch, they still need to improve in a lot of areas.
The running game, for starters, was largely stifled by the Arkansas defense, as I touched on two days ago. We basically had four good runs all day long, and aside from that it looked about like the days of ol' Bucket Step Bob. Needless to say, the running game must do much better than it did this past Saturday.
The passing game had a lot of big positive plays -- obviously, see the 41 points despite not much of a rushing game -- but it also had a lot big negative plays as well.
- After a big pass completion to D.J. Hall on the Tide's first offensive play, it's 3rd and 7 from the Arkansas 32. The Hogs don't bluff about the fact that they are coming with a safety blitz, and Wilson holds on to the ball entirely too long -- remember last week's play breakdown. As a result, not much of a surprise, Wilson is sacked. Instead of throwing to the open receiver, he takes the sack that puts us out of field goal range. Even if he throws it away, we still have a shot at a field goal. As is, punting time due to the sack.
- Up 21-0, we recover an Arkansas fumble at their own 34, and the time seems right to really cut their throat early on. A holding penalty and a sack later, we're punting from Alabama territory.
- With 3 minutes remaining before halftime, we have the ball 3rd and 9 at the Arkansas 43. It's a low percentage play, of course, but if we can just keep the clock running, we should be able to pin Arkansas inside their 15 with less than 2:30 to go in the half. Instead, Wilson throws an interception, and Arkansas has the ball at mid-field with 2:56 remaining, and they go down and get a field goal. Instead of a 21-7 halftime lead, it's 21-10.
- A driving Arkansas gives us a gift with a non-contact fumble at mid-field, and we quickly march down the field and have the ball 1st and goal at the 4. Three plays nets -3 yards, and we have to settle for a field goal.
- Up 31-17, we've just picked up a first down just past our own 40 yard line. With a fourteen point lead and the offense still moving the ball quite well, we're in good shape. And then we fumble the snap on 1st and 10. Seven plays later, Darren McFadden makes it a 31-24 game.
- With a short kick-off from Arkansas, we're starting 1st and 10 at our own 31. We start off with a naked bootleg that is designed with a short throw out in the flats to McCoy as the primary option. Problem is, no one bites on the run fake, and Wilson is under pressure. Instead of stepping up into contact and making a good throw, or throwing it away, Wilson fires a wobbler off of his back foot, which sails far past the intended receiver. Interception. Six plays later, Darren McFadden makes it 31-31.
All told, we improved a good bit on offense last week. But we still have a ways to go, to say the least. For us to pull out the win over UGA, the offense has to cut out the turnovers and re-establish the running game.