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Hogs poor at longer 3rd downs

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Photographs by Ben Goff

Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (8) looks toward the sideline while huddling with teammates during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- TCU had much better success on third downs than Arkansas during the Horned Frogs' 28-7 victory last week even though the third-down distances needed were not drastically different.

Arkansas had an average distance needed of 6.9 yards on its 14 third-down plays, while TCU needed an average of 6.0 yards on its 14 third-down plays.

The Horned Frogs converted 10 third-down plays, plus a defensive pass interference on a third-and-12 play that was not included in the official statistics. The Razorbacks converted 4 of 14 third-down plays.

TCU had a couple of third and longs -- when the Frogs needed 21 and 13 yards -- that skewed their numbers. The Horned Frogs had much more manageable third-down situations, going 6 of 6 when they needed 3 yards or fewer and 3 of 4 when they needed between 4 and 7 yards.

Arkansas went 2 of 3 when it needed 3 yards or fewer, and 1 of 6 on third-down plays needing between 4 and 7 yards.

On third downs of 8 yards or longer, the Razorbacks were 1 of 5 while the Horned Frogs were 1 of 4.

Curl route

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville freshman Kamren Curl held up well while being targeted for several deep throws by TCU on Saturday. Quarterback Kenny Hill failed to complete deep throws in single coverage by Curl on long routes by Jaelan Austin and Jalen Reagor.

Curl, a 6-1, 193-pounder making his first start after an injury to starter Ryan Pulley, was in solid position on a couple of the throws, but Reagor was able to turn him around on a post route in the third quarter. Fortunately for the Razorbacks, Hill's throw was slightly beyond Reagor, who got a hand on it but was unable to secure it in for a touchdown.

Locks down

Quarterback Austin Allen spoke to the Fayetteville High School football team Monday while sporting a new look.

The Fayetteville High graduate of 2013, who had gone a long period of time without a substantial reduction in the length of his hair, had a close-cropped look. Allen said recently he had gotten his hair trimmed a few times in the past year but had not undergone a significant hair cut since last September.

The Twitter account of Fayetteville High School football posted a picture of Allen talking to the team.

Tempo control

The Razorbacks had far fewer issues getting calls in, getting lined up and showing stamina in coordinator Paul Rhoads' new 3-4 defense against TCU's no-huddle offense than they did last year.

"Coach Rhoads prepared us really well throughout the week trying to simulate their tempo," defensive back Kevin Richardson said. "It was a really good simulation because it didn't feel as fast as we thought it would feel compared to our sours, who gave us a great look this whole week."

TCU rushed up to the line after many of its offensive plays, but quarterback Kenny Hill often looked to the sideline for signals rather than running the offense at hyper speed.

"The tempo didn't feel like it was too much, so I don't feel like we were too fatigued at all," Richardson said.

Patton pick up

Two Razorbacks played key roles in Jeremy Patton's 32-yard catch and run late in the first quarter, including fellow tight end Cheyenne O'Gray.

Tailback Devwah Whaley picked up a corner blitz from Julius Lewis on the play-action pass, allowing Patton to break open on the shallow crossing route. O'Grady, working 15 yards downfield after the reception, blocked safety Niko Small for 5 yards and eventually out of bounds, giving Patton an alley down the left sideline. Patton, a 250-pounder, finished the play by crunching safety Nick Orr at the sideline.

Two plays later, linemen Johnny Gibson, Frank Ragnow and Hjalte Froholdt all had key blocks as O'Grady took a screen pass 19 yards to the TCU 11. Ragnow blocked two TCU defenders on the play and Froholdt engaged Chris Bradley for 20 yards down the field, eventually dropping him into the turf inside the 10-yard line.

Missed threes

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema suggested he would have to move on from Cole Hedlund as the team's place-kicker after Hedlund missed chip shots from 23 and 20 yards against TCU.

The first miss, on the first play of the second quarter, would have put Arkansas ahead 10-7. The second miss would have cut TCU's lead to 14-10 early in the fourth quarter.

"It can hurt, because those are points on the board that you're missing," Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez said. "You can't really get down, because you've still got the game to play. But we need those points.

"Cole has got to make those. I'm not down on him or nothing like that, but in practice he's got to really focus on those, because we need those points on the board."

Capt. Hatfield

Ken Hatfield, a star defensive back and punt returner the 1964 Arkansas national championship team who led the Hogs to a 55-17-1 record as head coach from 1984-1989, served as the honorary captain for Saturday's on-campus opener.

Hatfield also addressed the football team after Thursday's practice. Bret Bielema said on his radio show Thursday night that he had been trying to get Hatfield to speak to the team for a while.

Bret vs. Big 12

Bret Bielema is 4-2 at Arkansas vs. Big 12 teams, 4-0 on the road and at neutral sites, but 0-2 in home games. The Razorbacks beat Texas Tech 49-28 in Lubbock, Texas, and Texas 31-7 in the Texas Bowl in 2014. Arkansas lost 35-24 to Texas Tech at home, then beat Kansas State 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl during the 2015 season. Last year, the Hogs beat the Horned Frogs 41-38 in double overtime in Fort Worth.

TCU Coach Gary Patterson is 3-3 against SEC teams.

TCU series

Arkansas is now 44-24-2 against its former Southwest Conference rival TCU, including 18-8-1 in Fayetteville.

The last meeting in Fayetteville prior to Saturday was a 53-10 Arkansas victory in 1988. Arkansas won 22 consecutive games against TCU from 1959-1980.

More than half

The then-No. 23 Horned Frogs were the 27th ranked opponent Bret Bielema had faced in his 53 games at Arkansas.

The Razorbacks are 7-20 against ranked teams in those games, including 6-18 against SEC teams and 1-2 against nonconference teams.

Extra points

• Redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Jones joined cornerback Kamren Curl in making their first career starts on Saturday.

• Army Maj. Thomas "Wade" January, an Arkansas graduate, was honored for being a hometown hero and introduced to the crowd during the first half.

• The Razorbacks had five three and outs against TCU, while the Horned Frogs had three.

• Linebacker Dre Greenlaw ran onto the field with the Arkansas flag, and defensive back Ryder Lucas carried the U.S. flag Saturday.

Sports on 09/13/2017

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