by Chris Bahn
Posted 10/9/2011 09:30 am
Updated 2 years ago
FAYETTEVILLE — Twice, Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee tried to deflect attention elsewhere. Assured — twice — that Coach Bobby Petrino gave him credit for THE play call of Saturday’s 38-14 victory against Auburn, McGee relaxed a bit.
Yes, it was McGee's idea to run a simple sweep play that put the 10th-ranked Razorbacks (5-1, 1-1 SEC) in control against the Tigers and in a very comfortable spot heading into the off week. Wide receiver Joe Adams lined up at tailback and turned the handoff into a breathtaking and game-saving 92-yard touchdown thanks to a halftime suggestion from McGee.
“Yeah. I believe in that play,” McGee said. “Our staff does a good job, but I believe in that play. Get the ball to Joe Adams as fast as you can.”
Catchy, right? The “Get The Ball To Joe Adams As Fast As You Can” play.
There is likely some sort of name for it. Perhaps it’s called in the huddle as a complicated series of letters and numbers. Whatever you call it, it worked. Well.
Auburn trailed just 21-14 before Adams was off to the races and the Razorbacks were headed into the bye week in great shape. It was the second-longest play in school history and the longest run by a wide receiver.
Arkansas enjoyed a total team victory on Saturday. No doubt. The defense forced three turnovers and outside of two big plays and a couple of first-quarter touchdowns, held strong. Special teams chipped in as well, but it was that quick-strike from Adams with 7:43 left in the third quarter that left no doubt the 74,191 fans on hand were watching an Arkansas victory.
“It was huge,” quarterback Tyler Wilson said of Adams’ play. “I think it lifted us.”
Adams’ touchdown — made possible by blocks from receiver Cobi Hamilton, fullback Kiero Small and tight end Chris Gragg — came on the heels of an extended drive by the Tigers (4-2, 2-1) that netted next to nothing. Auburn milked 7:02 off the clock and managed a whopping 24 yards on 12 plays with no touchdown.
Nobody could fault the Tigers for the strategy. Keeping the ball away from the Razorback offense — specifically out of the hands of Wilson — was a great plan. Wilson had completed 18 consecutive passes to end the first half and the Razorbacks put up 14 points in the second quarter.
Wilson ended the night 24 of 36 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He added a one-yard sneak on fourth down in the second quarter to tie the game at 14.
It wasn’t the record-setting night he enjoyed last week in Dallas. But thanks to 176 rushing yards — 92 of them on one carry by Adams — Wilson didn’t need another historic night. Arkansas won comfortably without Wilson putting up 510 passing yards like he did against Texas A&M.
Not only could Auburn not stop the Arkansas offense, the defending national champions couldn’t get out of their own way.
“I think it was pretty obvious what happened tonight,” Auburn’s Gene Chizik said. “We did all the classic things you cannot do to win games on the road.”
Failing to stop Adams was near the top of that list. As we’ve seen throughout the first half of the season, opponents are going to have a difficult time with the Razorbacks when their most explosive playmaker is making big plays.
Beyond that, play calling was actually conservative enough at times to draw boos from the crowd at one point in the third quarter. Arkansas did manage a field goal from Zach Hocker and an 18-yard pass to Dennis Johnson that grew the lead, part of 31 unanswered points.
With the defense playing the way it was — Auburn was an awful 9 of 25 for 104 passing yards with three interceptions — Arkansas didn’t have to do a whole lot when it had the ball. In fact, the final touchdown drive covered a modest 16 yards.
Once Adams scored, Petrino admitted he and the team went into “clock-watching mode” once the lead grew to two touchdowns. Essentially the Razorbacks just wanted to get the game over with and get to a much-needed bye week.
“We were looking at that clock wanting it to run out,” Petrino said. “It was a good win for us and we get a week off and get ready for the next one.”