As you might expect, I'm pretty much at a loss for words regarding how to describe what just happened, so I'm going to keep this short and sleep on a more detailed analysis. Hopefully the morning will bring a little clarity...and perhaps a smidgen of the confidence I once had about next week's game.
1. This was largely an execution loss. The players were generally either hurt or playing flat. Stephen Garcia had an off night. Pass protection was horrible. Marcus Lattimore was sluggish / hurt. Our receivers played more or less like they did last year against UConn. Our secondary is completely depleted, doesn't know how to tackle, and commits stupid, needless penalties. Hopefully some of these things will improve with a title on the line next weekend.
What happened to Garcia's new-found ability to find the dump-off play? We missed out on two or three third-down conversions because Garcia failed to see Lattimore open on the sidelines.
2. This may surprise you, but I'm generally not too unhappy with the offensive playcalling. There were a couple of moments that miffed me a little, like when we got down on Arkansas's five-yard line on a key early drive and threw the ball three times, followed by a missed FG. If we were throwing the ball because Lattimore was hurting, then Brian Maddox should have been in the game. Other than that, though, I thought we had a decent game plan. Steve Spurrier saw that Arkansas wasn't going to give Lattimore any running room in the middle, and he drew up some nice remedies, such as asking Garcia to run the ball a little more than usual. If the execution had been there--if more of Garcia's passes are on the money, if our receivers catch a few more balls, etc.--this one might have gone differently. Alas.
That said, let's not give the coaches too much of a pass-it's their job to get the team in the right mindset to play the game, and they failed tonight. Utterly.
3. Ryan Mallett is a great QB. As a downfield passer, he's on another level compared to the rest of the SEC's QBs. I was also generally impressed with his ability to get rid of the ball under pressure. The guy is shiftier than he looks. Certainly, if there was anyone wondering who the second-best QB in the SEC is coming into this game, that question has been answered. It's Mallett.