Highlight-ful Hogs Smoke Pitiful Vols, 49-7

Arkansas 49  Tennessee 7
12 November 2011 | Razorback Stadium | ATT: 72,103
Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-Play | Drive Chart
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At the end of the third quarter, the much-maligned Vol rushing game had 100 yards on the ground, and Vol freshman QB Justin Worley had more passing yards than the Razorbacks’ veteran gunslinger Tyler Wilson.

But the score at that point was Hogs 35 Vols 7.

What?

It was all about big plays.

Tennessee out-possessed the Razorbacks 37 to 23 minutes. The Vols had 240 yards passing, the high-powered Hogs just 245.

But when you can’t make big plays, and the other team does, you get beat. Simple.

And, on top of that, when you can’t take the most from opportunity as it arises, you get beat badly. Double simple.

Tack on another poor third quarter by Tennessee against conference competition — Vols have now been outscored 77-6 by the six SEC teams during third quarters — and you have a recipe for a massive beatdown against another Top 10-ranked SEC foe.

Drop a sure pick-six, and throw an INT at the goal line just before the end of the half, and you’re done.

***

Arkansas rode their big-play reputation with a 71-yard TD run from scrimmage, a 40-yard TD pass bomb, and a 60-yard TD punt return for the ages. That was enough to give the Razorbacks a hold on the week’s highlight market. It turned out to be enough to win the game. The Hogs scored four more TDs on the evening in less-spectacular fashion. The Vols had nothing but a single score to show.

And, you guessed it — that score was not in the second half.

It was an all-too familiar formula against SEC opponents: competitive in the first half, completely non-competitive in the second half.

Tennessee has not scored a single point in the second half of a game since Matt Simms replaced an injured Tyler Bray late in the Georgia game.

That’s five games in a row.

That’s the state of the Tennessee Volunteer football program.

After whipping Kentucky earlier in the day, Vanderbilt is laying in wait, licking their chops.

***

After the Vols muffed a promising opening drive with a poorly executed, well-defended fake field goal attempt, Arkansas put together one of those grinding 13-play, 75-yard scoring drives, capped by a big-time throw by junior QB Tyler Wilson while eluding pressure. It was a drive aided by a late hit out-of-bounds by Maurice Couch to give the Hogs a first-and-goal at the Vols 8 yard line. Razorbacks 7 Volunteers 0.

Razorback's big-play man Joe Adams leaves Vol defenders on the grass as he takes off on his spectacular punt return for a touchdown, his third of the season. Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess / Go Vols Xtra

Tennessee recovered, when on the next Razorback possession, Vol senior linebacker Austin Johnson made his third INT in four games. But a second consecutive three-and-out by the sputtering Tennessee offense set up the first big play by the Hogs.

First up on the Hog highlight reel, senior WR Joe Adams.

Ol’ Joe caught the Vols’ punt and thought that running backwards might be the best route to safety. He was right.

Tennessee’s coverage team had Adams hemmed in near his own sideline, but after a half-dozen missed tackles, Adams turned on the engines and raced to the endzone.

It was Adams’ third punt return for a TD this season.

Hogs 14 Vols 0.

If Joe Adams was in the Heisman race, he would have stolen the trophy right then and there.

It seemed to break the Vols’ backs as Tennessee couldn’t put anything together on two three-and-outs, making four consecutive futile possessions.

Next up on the Hog highlight reel, junior RB Dennis Johnson.

It seemed like a simple-enough running play to the left side. It looked simple, too, as Johnson cut through the Vol defense as if it had overslept for class. Johnson’s 71-yard streak to the endzone made it Arkansas 21 Tennessee 0, and the second quarter had barely started.

Arkansas RB Dennis Johnson is off and rumbling on his 71-yard TD run in the second quarter. Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess / Go Vols Xtra.

Hand it to Tennessee. They could have folded the tent on this windy night in Fayetteville. Instead, Vol QB Justin Worley completed his longest pass of the night to highlight a quick drive to the endzone, capped by a nice end-around reverse by Raijon Neal to make it Hogs 21 Vols 7.

Soon thereafter, it was nearly 21-14, but Tennessee defender Eric Gordon had the misfortune of having a Tyler Wilson pass hit him squarely in the numbers. All that separated Gordon and the endzone was a field of grass. He dropped it. A subsequent missed field goal attempt by Arkansas didn’t take the sting away from a “Go(r)d(o)n Opportunity” that went wasted.

Again, the Vols didn’t quit. Worley and company put a drive together, kept going by a pass interference to give Tennessee a first down at the Hogs 37 yard line. Marlon Lane made a nice run for another first down inside the Arky 10 out of the wildcat formation after giving up on passing the ball. But Justin Worley ended the half by delivering a pass toward DeAnthony Arnett that had no mustard on it. Worley was back-peddling under pressure by the Hogs front four and simply made a poor decision. The pass was intercepted right on the goal stripe, leaving Tennessee to think about “what if” during the half.

***

The Vols resumed their now infamous third quarter performances by not answering the bell.

After holding the Hogs on the opening possession, Tennessee made change a possibility with a fine 48-yard pass play from Worley to Rogers. But the Arkansas line began to put serious pressure on Worley who, on third down, fumbled, fortunately to have the ball roll out-of-bounds. That was followed by a Michael Palardy punt that seemed to fly more left than forward, giving the Razorbacks the opportunity to start a drive at midfield.

Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas intercepts a pass at the goal line just before the end of the first half. Vol WR DeAnthony Arnett was the intended receiver. Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess / Go Vols Xtra

Like putting a head right on a platter.

A few moments later, it was Dennis Johnson running right through the Vol defensive line as if they were coated in hog fat.

Razorbacks 28 Vols 7.

More heartache. More to be pitied. Tennessee found themselves a yard short on 4th down at their own 40 yard line. Figuring the Hogs would expect a run or QB sneak, the Vols dialed up a pass play. Worley picked the wrong time to throw an awful pass. Turnover on downs.

Back up on the Hog highlight reel, all-around Vol killer, Joe Adams.

The best way to kill a young team is to catch them when they are mentally down. On the first play from scrimmage, Tyler Wilson let it fly over the Vol secondary all the way to Joe Adams waiting in the end zone. Hogs 35 Vols 7.

Tennessee couldn’t make hay out of a 45-yard gain on a Marlon Lane wildcat keeper.

It was another pathetic Tennessee Vol third quarter: no points to Arkansas’ 14. Tennessee now had been outscored 77-6 during third quarters against SEC foes.

Matt Simms took over the quarterbacking role for Tennessee’s fourth quarter in a move suggesting that (1) Worley didn’t deserve a complete game (he had more passing yards than Wilson at that point); or (2) Simms had only one chance left to see action as a football player.

Nothing good happened. Arkansas scored twice more to make it total destruction: Arkansas 49 Tennessee 7.

***

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