Favorite

Pearls About Swine: Disastrous season for Hogs 

Bret Bielema image

Just end it already. (He writes, mournfully, as he did last November.)

Arkansas's final, futile bid to avoid its first-ever blank slate in SEC play, and its worst overall season in eons, lacked urgency and passion. When Brandon Allen chunked a fourth-down ball right into Taveze Calhoun's waiting arms in overtime, the Mississippi State Bulldogs left the state with a win for the first time inside these borders, possibly put a nail in the coffin that is War Memorial Stadium's place as a part-time college football venue, and worst of all, likely damned Hog fans to the longest and saddest offseason in many moons.

Cause for optimism is so fleeting. Alex Collins had been the mature and steady beacon of hope all year long, and the freshman sat the first quarter alongside Jonathan Williams for a discipline issue. Then in the fourth quarter, with the Hogs trying to surge back into the lead, the surehanded Florida product got stripped of the ball on the very next play after what was indisputably Jim Chaney's best play call in a season bereft of ingenuity, a 44-yard throwback toss to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Yeah, it was also probably the best ball Brandon Allen threw all year, too.

Allen missed only a few throws Saturday, but again he proved that next year the most urgent need for this team in the spring is to find competency and accuracy from someone else. Give the kid due credit for soldiering through 10 starts as a redshirt sophomore with virtually no help on the outside, but he's not mobile or instinctive enough to be a future solution. He'll be a reasonably adept backup if he can stomach serving that role behind his younger brother or possibly even incoming frosh Rafe Peavey.

Then there's the defense, which was again picked apart by an ailing quarterback. Tyler Russell wasn't completely sharp, and did get leveled a few times, but he made all the throws he had to make against cushion coverage. Eric Bennett, not two years removed from this column declaring him the unsung MVP of the 2011 squad's defense, has been victimized all season and has not provided measurable leadership to a cadre of young players. When Will Hines went down earlier this year, it robbed the Hogs of their most promising cornerback prospect in some time, so injuries have exacerbated a known issue.

With the Hogs forced to go to Baton Rouge to square off against an LSU team that just put together its most complete showing of the year, this is the season that can't end fast enough. The Little Rock crowd was paltry and indifferent Saturday, the coaches blew it almost as much as the players did, and we are now likely staring down a double-digit losing streak when you consider that the payoff for this massive write-off is an opening date at Auburn at the end of August.

I had all the optimism in the world for the Bret Bielema philosophy and style, but the parts aren't meshing at all. He and his staff have spent the past 11 months trying to impart aggression on a program where finesse had roosted, and it's been, I guess, a fairly predictable disaster. I had the team pegged for seven wins based on the presumed logic that the stylistic change would actually equip these guys well for fourth quarter slugfests. Instead, they bowed out of some games way too early, and then died by their own hands far too many times in the final weeks when they ostensibly should have made strides. Collins' cough-up wasn't his first error of the year nor was it the cause of the loss by any stretch, but it was so symbolic: Nobody is immune to self-destruction when the whole works spins violently off the rails.

I'm still supportive of Bielema and blindly optimistic that the offseason will heal a lot of wounds. We'll get some standard-issue puffery about how the recruiting class is better than what the rankings might show. Some random kid will show out in the spring and never be heard from again. We'll all spend the summer dreaming big, and the fall drinking bigger.

Pass the Tylenol.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

  • Changes needed

    January 5, 2017
    Those who have read this column with some degree of regularity know that I've held fast to the belief that Bret Bielema can and will revive the Arkansas football program. /more/
  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    December 8, 2016
    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte. /more/
  • Woeful

    December 1, 2016
    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference. /more/
  • Deflated

    November 17, 2016
    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness. /more/
  • After Auburn

    October 27, 2016
    I'm not one for hyperbole, but the mere mention of "56-3" changes things. /more/
  • Lessons learned

    October 20, 2016
    Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy. /more/
  • UA faculty member apologizes for cursing football coach

    October 11, 2016
    The University of Arkansas faculty member who was arrested after cursing Hog football coach Bret Bielema following the Razorbacks' loss has apologized for his actions. /more/
  • On to Alabama

    October 6, 2016
    With War Memorial Stadium's mystique and alleged efficacy dying by the year, it was at least comforting to watch Arkansas finally devour a purported cupcake there. Bret Bielema boosted his Little Rock record to 2-3, with those two wins coming against Football Championship Subdivision schools, after the Hogs pummeled Alcorn State 52-10 on Saturday. /more/
  • Hogs blew it

    September 29, 2016
    Arkansas needed to beat Texas A&M. That's it. Sometimes perfunctory is poetry. /more/
  • 2-0

    September 15, 2016
    If you tuned in to ESPN Saturday night or settled into your seats at Fort Worth's compact but energetic Amon Carter Stadium, you undoubtedly felt like the impending Arkansas-TCU tilt was going to be compelling, if for no other reason because it pitted a burgeoning Big 12 power against a rising SEC program, with both having that Southwest Conference badging that went dormant a quarter-century ago. /more/
  • More »

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Post-season promise

    What the coaching staff has done in 2017 constitutes a minor miracle and it likely represents the best work of Dave Van Horn's accomplished tenure.
    • May 25, 2017
  • Thank you, Rawleigh

    Rawleigh Williams spent roughly a year and a half in Arkansas Razorback garb. During his 20 active games, he amassed 1,860 yards from scrimmage, racked up eight 100-yard rushing outings, amassed 13 total touchdowns, and even accounted for a 14th by tossing a nifty little 1-yarder on a fourth-down gimmick play in a win at Mississippi State last fall.
    • May 11, 2017
  • Thank you, Rawleigh Williams

    Rawleigh Williams spent roughly a year and a half in Hog garb. During his 20 active games, he amassed 1,860 yards from scrimmage, racked up eight 100-yard rushing outings, amassed 13 total touchdowns, and even accounted for a 14th by tossing a nifty little one-yarder on a fourth-down gimmick play in a win at Mississippi State last fall.
    • May 8, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Post-season promise

    What the coaching staff has done in 2017 constitutes a minor miracle and it likely represents the best work of Dave Van Horn's accomplished tenure.
    • May 25, 2017
  • Thank you, Rawleigh

    Rawleigh Williams spent roughly a year and a half in Arkansas Razorback garb. During his 20 active games, he amassed 1,860 yards from scrimmage, racked up eight 100-yard rushing outings, amassed 13 total touchdowns, and even accounted for a 14th by tossing a nifty little 1-yarder on a fourth-down gimmick play in a win at Mississippi State last fall.
    • May 11, 2017
  • Call to arms

    Basketball season's behind us, spring football practice hasn't culminated yet, and baseball hasn't quite revved up to the ever-beguiling postseason, so Pearls this go-round is a bit of a hodgepodge.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

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  
 

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