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...

  • 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/
  • 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/
  • 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

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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

  • Re: On "Beyond Scared Straight"

    • I need to find a scared straight program for my 14 yr old daughter here…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

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