BEVO BEAT Football

Arkansas 31, Texas 7: Longhorns’ season ends with disappointing bowl loss

Posted December 29th, 2014

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IT’S OVER.

Not just this Texas Bowl — which, mercifully, has finally ended — but also this 2014 season for the Longhorns, an up-and-down year that ended much more down than up, with two straight losses, including tonight’s abysmal showing against Arkansas.

The final: Arkansas 31, Texas 7.

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The Longhorns were outplayed (31-7), outgained (351 yards to 59), outrun (191 yards to 2), and outthrown (160 yards to 57). Arkansas held the ball for twice as much time (37:51 to 18:50), didn’t commit a single turnover (Texas had two), controlled the clock, ran the ball when it wanted to, passed it when it needed to, came up with a defensive touchdown and, well, simply dominated Texas at NRG Stadium.

“We have a long ways to go,” Charlie Strong said in his post-game comments.

It wasn’t a good way to send the seniors out. Malcolm Brown rushed for only 25 yards. Jaxon Shipley had only one catch. John Harris was never a factor. Cedric Reed was quiet. So was Quandre Diggs. Steve Edmond had a sack, but Jordan Hicks was flagged for a late hit.

Sept. 5, 2015 — Texas’ season opener, at Notre Dame — can’t get here soon enough. In between, the Longhorns must wrap up their recruiting class, sign them all in early February, find their quarterback in the spring and replace key players like Reed, Hicks, Edmond, Brown, Harris and Diggs. And maybe All-American defensive tackle Malcom Brown, too; he’s expected to head to the NFL one year early.

The loss ends Texas’ season at 6-7, its second losing season in five years. Arkansas improves to 7-6.

How they scored:

Arkansas, 1st quarter: Adam McFain 32-yard field goal (4:32)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Demetrius Wilson 36-yard pass from Brandon Allen, McFain kick (14:15)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Taiwan Johnson fumble recovery, McFain kick (8:13)
Texas, 2nd quarter: Tyrone Swoopes 9-yard run, Nick Rose kick (3:59)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Keon Hatcher 5-yard pass from Allen, McFain kick (:24)
Arkansas, 4th quarter: Jonathan Williams 1-yard run, McFain kick (11:41)

Final stats:

First downs: Arkansas 20, Texas 7

Total yards: Arkansas 351, Texas 59

Rushing yards: Arkansas 191, Texas 2

Passing yards: Arkansas 160, Texas 57

Time of possession: Arkansas 37:51, Texas 18:50

Turnovers: Arkansas 0, Texas 2

Individual passing: Arkansas — Brandon Allen 12-23-160, 2/0; Texas — Tyrone Swoopes 13-25-57, 0/1

Individual rushing: Arkansas — Jonathan Williams 23-105-1, Alex Collins 17-76, Allen 6-13, Keon Hatcher 1-2; Texas — Malcolm Brown 7-25, Jonathan Gray 6-9, Swoopes 5-(-32)

Individual receiving: Arkansas — Hatcher 4-41-1, Jared Cornelius 3-16, Demetrius Wilson 2-52-1, Drew Morgan 2-33, Hunter Henry 1-18; Texas — John Harris 4-36, Jacorey Warrick 3-13, Daje Johnson 3-0, Marcus Johnson 1-9, Jaxon Shipley 1-6, Brown 1-(-7)

Earlier updates …

FOURTH QUARTER.

There’s 11:41 left.

It’s Arkansas 31, Texas 7.

The Razorbacks have all but put this game away — and there’s still most of the fourth quarter to play.

Jonathan Williams‘ 1-yard touchdown run capped a 13-play, 57-yard drive for Arkansas that took off 8:39 from the clock.

So far in this game, Texas has run 34 plays — and has produced 25 yards of total offense (2 yards rushing, 23 yards passing).

Earlier updates …

IT’S HALFTIME.

Arkansas leads Texas, 24-7.

The Longhorns have mercifully headed into the locker room for a much-needed break, down three scores.

After Texas finally showed some life by scoring a touchdown, Arkansas simply answered by efficiently marching downfield and scoring just before the end of the first half. Brandon Allen threw his second touchdown pass of the game, beating Duke Thomas again. This time, it was a 5-yard toss to a wide open Keon Hatcher in the back of the end zone on a third-and-goal play.

The key play on the drive was Allen’s 10-yard keeper on third-and-4, to Texas’ 34.

Texas will get the ball to start the second half.

How they’ve scored:

Arkansas, 1st quarter: Adam McFain 32-yard field goal (4:32)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Demetrius Wilson 36-yard pass from Brandon Allen, McFain kick (14:15)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Taiwan Johnson fumble recovery, McFain kick (8:13)
Texas, 2nd quarter: Tyrone Swoopes 9-yard run, Nick Rose kick (3:59)
Arkansas, 2nd quarter: Keon Hatcher 5-yard pass from Allen, McFain kick (:24)

Some first half stats:

First downs: Arkansas 12, Texas 5

Time of possession: Arkansas 18:21, Texas 11:15

Total yards: Arkansas 217, Texas 46

Rushing yards: Arkansas 100, Texas 16

Average yards per rush: Arkansas 4.8, Texas 1.1

Passing yards: Arkansas 117, Texas 30

Penalties: Arkansas 0-0, Texas 3-24

Turnovers: Arkansas 0, Texas 1

Individual passing: Arkansas — Brandon Allen 8-16-117, 2/0; Texas — Tyrone
Swoopes 6-10-30, 0/0

Individual rushing: Arkansas — Jonathan Williams 9-47, Alex Collins 8-38, Allen 3-13, Keon Hatcher 1-2; Texas — Malcolm Brown 6-24, Jonathan Gray 5-11, Swoopes 3-(19)

Individual receiving: Arkansas — Hatcher 3-26-1, Jared Cornelius 2-13, Demetrius Wilson 1-36-1, Drew Morgan 1-24, Hunter Henry 1-18; Texas — John Harris 2-21, Marcus Johnson 1-9, Daje Johnson 3-0

Earlier updates …

SECOND QUARTER.

There’s 3:07 left.

It’s Arkansas 17, Texas 7.

At least Texas can say that it took less time to score against Arkansas than it did Oklahoma to score against Clemson.

Tyrone Swoopes, who began this latest drive with -1 passing yards, completed passes of 8, 11 and 13 yards to lead the Longhorns to their first points of the game, secured on a 9-yard touchdown run from Swoopes himself.

Credit John Harris, who made a couple of nice grabs on low throws, and tight end Geoff Swaim, who was Swoopes’ lead blocker on the touchdown run.

Texas’ scoring drive: 8 plays, 44 yards. It took 4:14 off the clock.

Earlier updates …

SECOND QUARTER.

There’s 8:13 left.

It’s Arkansas 17, Texas 0.

Well, that just happened.

We won’t delve too deeply into Texas’ most recent play, a botched handoff exchange between Tyrone Swoopes and Jonathan Gray — in the Longhorns’ own end zone.

There was a fumble, and Gray couldn’t corral it, but Arkansas defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson did.

Touchdown, Razorbacks.

Earlier updates …

SECOND QUARTER.

There’s 14:15 left.

It’s Arkansas 10, Texas 0.

The Razorbacks’ running game — expected to be formidable — churned yards downfield, but it was quarterback Brandon Allen who made the play of this latest Arkansas scoring drive, a beautifully thrown 36-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Wilson.

Arkansas went 87 yards in six plays to get the score.

Jonathan Williams, held in check on the Razorbacks’ first two drives, got it going on this one. He has 5 carries for 26 yards, including a 15-yarder.

Duke Thomas was beaten on the touchdown play; it appeared that Wilson pushed him a bit in the endzone to get some separation, but there was no call.

Earlier updates …

FIRST QUARTER.

There’s 4:32 left.

It’s Arkansas 3, Texas 0.

Arkansas has drawn first blood, a 32-yard field goal from Adam McFain.

Texas’ 38-yard punt from Michael Davidson following the Longhorns’ first drive didn’t help. Arkansas’ scoring drive began life at Texas’ 48.

The Razorbacks are going against the grain, as quarterback Brandon Allen has already attempted eight passes. He’s completed three of them, for 41 yards, including an 11-yard completion to Jared Cornelius that almost resulted in a fumble at Texas’ 25; Mykkele Thompson stripped the ball from him, but Arkansas recovered.

Earlier updates …

FIVE MINUTES TO KICKOFF.

Some Texas Bowl storylines to follow tonight:

Which Swoopes shows up?: Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is 5-6 as a starter. The sophomore has had his ups and downs — more downs than ups — and is coming off perhaps his worst showing of the season, a five-turnover turkey on Thanksgiving night against TCU. The last time he looked that bad — the shutout loss at Kansas State on Oct. 25 — Swoopes bounced back to lead Texas to three straight wins. Whether he can produce a bowl performance like the ones David Ash had in the 2011 Holiday and 2012 Alamo bowls, earning offensive MVP honors in the first and rallying Texas past Oregon State in the latter, remains to be seen.

On the season, Swoopes is 211 of 359 for 2,352 yards. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Can Texas save the day for the Big 12?: West Virginia fell to Texas A&M earlier today. Oklahoma’s getting schooled by Clemson as I type. So it’s up to Texas to save face for the Big 12 — and avoid all those tweets and talking heads with their “See? THAT’S why TCU and Baylor got overlooked.”

Strength vs. strength: Arkansas, which is the only team in the country to have two 1,000-yard rushers, wants to pound the ball on the ground. Texas, with the Big 12’s No. 1 defense, is built to stop runs up the middle and is hard to get around on the outside.

So we have an instant matchup to watch, in the trenches. Arkansas’ offensive line is bigger than any NFL team’s. Texas counters with All-American defensive tackle Malcom Brown and pass-rush specialist Cedric Reed. The Razorbacks average 220.3 rushing yards per game, at 5.2 yards per carry, and rank 26th in the country in rushing. Their two 1,000-yarders, Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, are Arkansas’ first two 1,000-yard backs since Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in 2007.

That 2007 season, by the way, was the last time Texas produced a single 1,000-yard back (Jamaal Charles).

Three Razorbacks to watch: Quarterback Brandon Allen, who has completed 56 percent of his passes for 2,125 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs. And he can extend plays with his running ability. Running back Jonathan Williams, who has 188 carries for 1,085 yards and 11 TDs (Alex Collins: 187-1,024-12). But Williams has averaged 3.8 yards without a 100-yard game in the last four games. And defensive end Trey Flowers, who has had three of his five sacks come in the last three games. He’s a second-team All-SEC pick who has 13.5 tackles for loss and 9 QB hurries.

Which senior will shine in his last Longhorns game?: Let’s include junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown in this discussion, as it is presumed he’ll turn pro after this game. Linebacker Jordan Hicks, cornerback Quandre Diggs, and wide receiver John Harris are the best bets to put an exclamation point on what has been a fine senior season for each of them. A wild card? How about running back Malcolm Brown?

Will there be changes to the starting lineup?: It has been a month since Texas last played a game, so one has to believe the coaching staff has re-examined starting spots at some positions. The lines on either side of the ball have been fluid for most of the year, but the offensive line would seem to be entrenched now that reserve Darius James is out after undergoing knee surgery. Caleb Bluiett, Naashon Hughes and Shiro Davis have traded starts at defensive end.

Earlier updates …

THIRTY MINUTES TO KICKOFF.

Both teams are on the field, in full pads, going through warmup drills.

Texas will be wearing its home burnt orange. Arkansas is in its road whites.

It’s a slow-arriving crowd, though Texas Bowl folks tell us this will be a sellout crowd.

This will be Texas’ 53rd bowl game, second only to Alabama’s 60. The Longhorns are 27-23-2 all-time, including wins in nine of their last 12.

This is Charlie Strong‘s fifth bowl game as a head coach. He’s 3-1 so far, all at Louisville.

Texas’ last five bowl results:
2013: Alamo Bowl — Lost to Oregon, 30-7.
2012: Alamo Bowl — Beat Oregon State, 31-27.
2011: Holiday Bowl — Beat Cal, 21-10.
2009: BCS championship game — Lost to Alabama, 37-21.
2008: Fiesta Bowl — Beat Ohio State, 24-21.

The numbers game: How Texas, Arkansas match up.

Scoring: Arkansas 32.0, Texas 22.6

Total offense: Arkansas 410.6, Texas 360.5

Passing: Texas 211.8, Arkansas 190.3

Rushing: Arkansas 220.2, Texas 148.7

3rd down conversions: Arkansas 46%, Texas 35%

Points allowed: Texas 22.4, Arkansas 30.2

Total def: Arkansas 345.4, Texas 348.3

Passing def: Texas 186.2, Arkansas 221.4

Rushing def: Arkansas 124.0, Texas 162.1

Earlier updates …

ONE HOUR TO KICKOFF.

The roof is closed here at NRG Stadium, the National Anthem was rehearsed about 45 minutes ago, and the lone Longhorn on the field is kicker Nick Rose, who’s booting field goal attempts of various distances, and defensive end Caleb Bluiett, who’s playing catch.

Meanwhile, over at the Russell Athletic Bowl, Oklahoma’s laying down for Clemson — 34-0, midway through the third quarter.

This year’s Texas Bowl matchup is a Southwest Conference fan’s dream. Texas (6-6) and Arkansas (6-6) bring to Houston history, good storylines and an interesting matchup of strengths. In several ways, this game revolves around these two teams’ pasts, presents and futures.

The past: Texas and Arkansas have a history. The old Southwest Conference rivals — think Royal vs. Broyles, Game of the Century, Austin vs. Fayetteville — have played each other 77 times. The Longhorns lead the overall series, 56-21, but they haven’t faced each other since 2008. It’s the second time they’ve played each other in a bowl game (Arkansas won the 2000 Cotton Bowl, 27-6).

The present: This is one of the more interesting bowl matchups. Two 6-6 teams that prefer to run, play good defense and overcame slow starts to the season to get here. It’ll be Arkansas’ ground game, powered by the only 1,000-yard rushing duo in the country, against Texas’ front seven, which includes two standout defensive linemen and a pair of senior linebackers playing their final game.

The future: There’s more at stake than simply a win in the Advocare 100 Texas Bowl. A win and a loss is the difference between a 7-6 and 6-7 season. A win generates momentum heading into recruiting, signing day and spring football. A loss brings with it question marks. Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, coming off a nightmarish five-turnover end to the regular season, may or may not be starter heading into the spring; freshman redshirt Jerrod Heard is on deck, and incoming pocket passer Zach Gentry arrives from Albuquerque in the summer.

The offseason begins Tuesday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE.

Texas: The up-and-down, hot-and-cold Longhorns. Charlie Strong’s inaugural season turned south immediately — starting quarterback David Ash (concussion) and starting center Dominic Espinosa (broken ankle) were lost in the season-opening win over North Texas. Both were critical setbacks, as Ash was Texas’ only experienced quarterback, with nothing but question marks behind him, and Espinosa was a four-year starter and the anchor of a rebuilding offensive line.

The Longhorns reinvented themselves, giving the reigns of the offense to sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, shuffling through a patchwork offensive line, and relying on a physical defense sparked by a strong line and hard-hitting linebackers. Still, Texas started out the season 2-4, or losing four of their first six games.

But a three-game winning streak in the middle of the season (at Texas Tech, vs. West Virginia, and at Oklahoma State) got them to bowl eligibility. Swoopes was up and down throughout the year — mostly down — and Texas went backward in the regular season finale loss to TCU on Thanksgiving night.

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown — a consensus All-American and a Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy finalist — anchors the defensive line, which also includes end Cedric Reed. The Longhorns led the Big 12 in total defense, pass defense and sacks, and rank 8th nationally in yards per play allowed.

Texas beat North Texas, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State; the Longhorns lost to BYU, UCLA, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU.

Arkansas: The woulda, coulda, shoulda Razorbacks. Like Texas, Arkansas also stumbled out of the gate — 3-4 after seven games. But the Razorbacks played Alabama and Mississippi State close, then they won three of their last four, including wins over LSU and Ole Miss. Along the way, Arkansas snapped a 17-game losing streak in SEC games, with narrow losses to Mississippi State and Missouri. The wins over LSU and Ole Miss were by a combined score of 47-0.

The Hogs have gotten it done with the run. There are two 1,000-yard rushers — Jonathan Williams (188-1,085-11) and Alex Collins (187-1,024-12) — running behind college football’s biggest offensive line. Actually, you can make the case that it’s the biggest O-line in all of football — the Razorbacks’ front-line hogs average 328.4 pounds per lineman, which is still bigger than the largest line in the NFL (the Buffalo Bills, who weigh in at 324.6).

Arkansas ranks ninth nationally in time of possession, averaging more than 33 minutes a game.

Texas has allowed only 162 rushing yards a game, though keep in mind that many of the teams on the Big 12 schedule are passing teams, not running teams.

The Razorbacks can play defense, too. The Razorbacks shut out LSU and Ole Miss and held Alabama (14) and Mississippi State (17) far below their averages.

Arkansas beat Nicholls State, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, Alabama-Birmingham, LSU and Ole Miss; the Razorbacks lost to Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Missouri.

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