2. Play calling was conservative…until it wasn’t
The run game was working for most of the game, but when you get in the red zone you have to mix it up in order to put touchdowns on the board. A&M couldn’t and it resulted in a couple of missed field goals that left them with zero points after long drives.
Since it was working, it felt like Jimbo took his foot off the pedal with his play calling. The Aggies didn’t test Arkansas’s defense much down the field. They went after Clemson’s defense with ferocity through the air, mostly out of necessity, but Mond playing poorly in the first half forced Fisher into some conservative decisions.
That is, until the most important play of the game. On 3rd-and-8, with 2:03 remaining, up by seven with a chance to seal the game with a first down, Fisher let his struggling quarterback drop back to pass. That, in and of itself, is not a terrible decision. You should have confidence in your players to go win the game.
What is a terrible decision is to have his first read be a 50/50 ball down the sideline with the corner running step-for-step with your slowest wide receiver. There are plenty of more high-percentage plays to call there. Even if you don’t get the first down, Arkansas had no timeouts. Fisher effectively gave them another with a risky throw that stopped the clock.
Fisher can’t be so back and forth. If you’re going to be conservative all game, do it. If you’re going to be aggressive, do that before the most important play of the game with two minutes to go in the fourth.