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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Flukey A&M loss came down to two plays

by Wally Hall | September 27, 2022 at 4:20 a.m.

There is no way to coach against what happened to the Arkansas Razorbacks when KJ Jefferson fumbled on first and goal from the 3.

A Texas A&M relay team returned it a total of 97 yards for a touchdown.

Maybe it wasn't the play a lot of people would have called.

Maybe Jefferson started his jump over the middle of the pile too soon.

Maybe most of the Razorbacks didn't respond fast enough.

Maybe when Raheim Sanders wrapped up Tyreek Chappell, who recovered the fumble in the air and turned him around, his progress was stopped enough for the officials to blow the whistle.

Maybe SEC officials are the slowest in the country to blow their whistle.

All of that is open for debate, what is not is that it was a freak play. A fluke.

Scoop and scores happen all the time, but this time it appeared Demani Richardson basically stripped his own teammate of the ball at the 18 and took it untouched 82 yards for a touchdown.

Saying Chappell was in the right place at the right time is like saying Razorback fans would be fine with their Hogs not attempting another flea flicker for a while.

It was Chappell's first fumble recovery in 16 games as an Aggie.

Until the fumble, the Razorbacks had 216 yards of offense and were going through the Aggies like a hot knife through warm butter.

On their next possession, they went three and out with a total of minus-2 yards after Jefferson was sacked.

They didn't get the ball again until the third quarter, and the total stats for two possessions in that quarter were: 21 total yards, one first down and no third-down conversions.

They dominated the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.

The entire game came down to two plays: the fumble and when the Aggies faced a second down and 30 from the Arkansas 49. In that series, A&M lost 30 yards on penalties and a 10-yard sack.

On that second-down play, the Aggies completed a 32-yard pass. They ended up settling for a field goal, the game-winning field goal.

Pass coverage issues are not a surprise.

The only other areas that can be worked on are punting and fumbles.

The Razorbacks may have only lost one fumble, but the other four didn't help.

Averaging 36.3 yards per punt is not good enough.

No individual lost the game, though.

Fingers can be pointed all they want. The Razorbacks lost the momentum and ultimately the game because of a freak play and giving up a 32-yard pass.

The reason the loss still stings is because the best team did not win.

Arkansas was better than A&M.

The Razorbacks won almost every offensive statistic.

The fans have become accustomed to winning again.

They expect it, and deserve it. There were obviously more Razorback fans on hand Saturday night than Aggie fans.

Sam Pittman has created a winning atmosphere, and as disappointed as the fans are, no one hurt more than the players, Pittman and his coaching staff.

They knew they were better, but instead of being ranked No. 8 or 9 with Alabama and ESPN GameDay headed for Fayetteville, the No. 20 Hogs host the No. 2 team in the country.

Despite the loss, it will be surprising if the Razorbacks don't get 74,000 fans for Saturday afternoon's kick.

Even during the dark days of Chad Morris and 20 consecutive SEC losses without a win, the Razorbacks attracted 40,000 plus.

One upset, and yes it was an upset despite the Las Vegas line because your eyes didn't lie, won't slow the Hog train down much if any.

The loss to Texas A&M was mostly a fluke.


Print Headline: Flukey A&M loss came down to two plays

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