Favorite

Arkansas Razorbacks 2016 football preview, part II 

The second chapter in the 2016 Razorback Football Trilogy is an October that starts with a presumed breather in Little Rock.

The second chapter in the 2016 Razorback Football Trilogy is an October that starts with a presumed breather in Little Rock (though we know, based on occurrences at War Memorial in 2012 and 2015 that no assumptions are safe), followed by a merciless gauntlet that, at the very least, keeps the team homebound for three straight weeks. We projected the Hogs to take charge in September and roll through four games, including a sweep of two formidable games in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, to an undefeated start that puts them in the rankings. (Read parts I and III.)

Alcorn State in Little Rock, Oct. 1: The ongoing effort to marginalize War Memorial Stadium means that the Hogs draw the Braves of the SWAC. The good start by the team means that this throwaway game will be well attended but it will also be a shade stiffer than your typical lower-division foe. Alcorn State goes wide-open and athletic, with the original "Air McNair" at the helm; head coach Fred, the late Steve's older brother, has taken the reins as head coach and promises to employ a downfield passing game that could challenge the Hogs' secondary at times.

Arkansas, however, fears the fallout of yet another uninspired game in the capital city, and turns up the pressure on the Braves' backfield. A school-record nine sacks result, three coming from Tevin Beanum, and the Hogs cruise to 5-0 with a balanced offensive approach that allows backup quarterback Rafe Peavey a long-awaited shot to play extended minutes. Hogs 44, Braves 17.

Alabama in Fayetteville, Oct. 8: I've toyed with using this space to project a break in Nick Saban's absolute dominance of Arkansas since his tenure in Tuscaloosa began, and clearly it did not work. Arkansas has played commendably well under Bret Bielema against the Tide the past two seasons, but still, the losing streak is double-digits and the albatross gains weight every year.

The thing is, Bama looks stout again, of course, because their defensive line now offers a brand of pressure and athleticism that was lacking a few years prior. On the other side, despite again having to groom a quarterback (Cooper Bateman seems the likely choice), the skill players remain abundant, led by receiver Calvin Ridley.

The Hogs are fired up on a gorgeous night on the Hill, primed to close the games they couldn't against the Tide in 2014-15. But again, self-inflicted wounds creep in: a huge fourth-quarter turnover on a muffed punt return, and a bad snap on a field goal attempt leading to a major loss of yardage, allow Bama to break a third-quarter tie with two late TDs. Crimson Tide 30, Hogs 22.

Ole Miss in Fayetteville, Oct. 15: There is no rest for the weary in the SEC, and after another agonizing one against the power brokers, the Hogs draw the Rebels, who are predictably chafed after dropping two games in a row to Arkansas in disparate ways. The 30-0 whitewashing the Razorbacks put on the Rebs in 2014 was a thing of beauty wrought through ugly conditions; the epic overtime battle last year in Oxford culminated with one miracle (fourth-and-25) essentially snuffing out another (an SEC West crown for Ole Miss).

The Rebels are mad, but they're also less equipped to channel that anger. LaQuon Treadwell did untold damage to the Hogs' defensive backs last fall while Laremy Tunsil fended off pursuers of quarterback Chad Kelly ably, allowing Kelly to have a monster game scrambling out of trouble. Treadwell and Tunsil went to the NFL, with the latter stirring up some trouble for the Rebels long term in the process, and Kelly's a little careless with the football at times. This is one of those times.

Despite the Hogs' own struggles offensively in this one, Kelly fires three bad interceptions, two going back for scores by Dre Greenlaw and D.J. Dean. The second half becomes a grind-it-out affair for the Hogs, and as usual they control the clock masterfully behind Devwah Whaley's 131-yard, two-touchdown opus on the ground. Hogs 38, Rebels 27. 

Auburn in Auburn, Oct. 22: With the Hogs soaring at 6-1, 2-1, Auburn isn't quite the threat it once presented, and again is too cushiony on defense to do much good against a Razorback line that is really starting to find its unity. Behind a massive effort from Dan Skipper and Conway's own Colton Jackson, the Hogs have their way with the Tigers' front and bull their way to over 350 yards rushing. Whaley and Kody Walker both hit the 100-yard mark.

Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn's offense is more potent this fall, but still ravaged by inconsistencies and personnel uncertainties. Due to the recent dismissal of presumptive starting tailback Jovon Robinson, the Tigers' committee approach in the backfield fails considerably to make a dent in an invigorated Hog front. The Auburn passing attack wounds the Hogs a bit with three scores and 300-plus yards, but in the end, Arkansas gets another win over the Tigers and Bielema's 7-1, 3-1 start is a full two games ahead of his philosophical nemesis Malzahn's. Auburn's own in-house woes—personnel-wise and other—continue to be on display. The Tigers throw well, but the run game is stuffed as Bielema vanquishes his philosophical nemesis Malzahn again. Hogs 34, Tigers 21.

The Hogs get a bye week to close out the month, and head to November on the fringes of the Top 10, looking for another signature road win and a final triumph at home to cement their bowl position.


Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Arkansas Razorbacks, Bret Bielema

  • The end is near

    October 12, 2017
    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action. /more/
  • On to TCU

    September 7, 2017
    This opener was never endangered by weather, never in doubt on the scoreboard, and never remotely interesting. But it happened, Arkansas is 1-0 (unlike Baylor, UNLV and — chortle — Texas A&M), and the Hogs lost very little against hapless Florida A&M in a 49-7 walloping that may have been a sendoff to War Memorial Stadium. /more/
  • Game on

    August 31, 2017
    This entire opening game preview, I suppose, has a giant asterisk accompanying it. If the havoc that Harvey wrought upon Texas makes its way nor'easterly, then the Arkansas season debut Thursday night in Little Rock may be in jeopardy, and I suspect would not be rescheduled if such a cancellation came to pass. Arkansas may need that presumably easy win for bowl consideration later, but let's presume for the moment the Hogs do get to take on Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 3

    August 17, 2017
    Halfway through the Hogs' 2017 football season, which now will undoubtedly be played out in the memory of J. Frank Broyles, Pearls has the team sitting at 4-2, 1-2 after back-to-back road defeats against South Carolina and Alabama. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 2

    August 10, 2017
    The second leg of the 2017 Arkansas football season is no picnic, metaphorically or otherwise. /more/
  • Awwwwww. Big Bret Bielema shows off his little baby daughter

    August 9, 2017
    Razorback Coach Bret Bielema brought his month-old daughter Briella to his news conference this morning and cuteness ensued. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 1

    August 3, 2017
    By the time you read this, Arkansas will have put in about a week's worth of gridiron prep for a 2017 season that has such an odd feel, what with the deflating close of 2016 a distant but still germane development and the cast of skill and special teams players looking substantially different. /more/
  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    July 20, 2017
    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions? /more/
  • Summer hopes

    June 22, 2017
    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere. /more/
  • Hawgball prospects

    March 30, 2017
    The sting of the "Grifters in Greenville" incident having finally dissipated somewhat, I am prepared to assess Razorback basketball anew. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • The end is near

    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • A win, finally

    Given all upheaval, foreign and domestic, Arkansas beating New Mexico State by a comfortable, if unremarkable, 42-24 margin on Saturday genuinely meant a hell of a lot.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Agony vs. Aggies

    You watched Austin Allen fire that third-down pass into a "window" that was more like a keyhole, and you knew, didn't you?
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • The end is near

    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • A win, finally

    Given all upheaval, foreign and domestic, Arkansas beating New Mexico State by a comfortable, if unremarkable, 42-24 margin on Saturday genuinely meant a hell of a lot.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Agony vs. Aggies

    You watched Austin Allen fire that third-down pass into a "window" that was more like a keyhole, and you knew, didn't you?
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation