Favorite

Hogs break down at Auburn 

click to enlarge Bret Bielema image
  • Brian Chilson
  • Bret Bielema (file photo)

When Auburn clanked a field goal attempt off the upright going into halftime, Bret Bielema's fist plunged skyward and Arkansas headed to halftime all square at 21. The game plan was working. Gashed early, the defense was settling in to make some stops here and there, and the offensive machine was humming.

About four hours later, courtesy of an extended lightning delay, Auburn had a 45-21 win and Arkansas had the first double-digit losing streak in program history. How the hell did that happen?!

Armchair quarterbacks like myself can posit any theory possible, from the sublime (bewildering abandonment of the running game) to the obtuse (half of the Arkansas staff got stuck in Jordan-Hare's pressbox elevator), and none of it really matters much. The Hogs were a sieve against Jeremy Johnson's throws in the first half and helpless to thwart Nick Marshall's operation of the read option after the break. It was another defensive showing like the ones we've seen for quite a while now: commendable effort now and then, but bad technique and gaping holes marred it in the end.

Most frustrating of all? Brandon Allen looked confident and steady, but the game once again turned on a pick-six. This one wasn't his fault, to be sure, but when the junior quarterback got decked in his windup by Robenson Therezie and the ball fluttered right into Jermaine Whitehead's waiting arms, the margin ballooned to 35-21 in the third quarter and the Tigers' already-burgeoning momentum simply exploded from there.

Months earlier, we made the base observation that Arkansas could not afford crippling mistakes or substantial time-of-possession deficits, least of all against teams like Auburn. The Tigers beat the Hogs by a good five-and-a-half minutes in the latter category, and a big part of that was wrought from a spectacular third-down conversion ratio (9 of 14, compared to a paltry 2 of 11 by Arkansas). Gus Malzahn got what he needed from Johnson, starting thanks to Marshall's suspension for a summer arrest, and then it was curtains after halftime when Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant started consuming turf.

When the Whitehead pick happened, the old scabs started getting picked, too. Penalties, dropped passes, generally playing behind the chains, as they say. It was a far more familiar scene than, say, the one where Bielema was triumphantly pumping his fist after the Hogs had weathered an early 14-point deficit.

The Southland Conference gives the Hogs immediate hope. First, there's a bout with lightweight Nicholls State for a home opener this Saturday, and those Colonels got plowed by 28 by Air Force thanks to the Falcons amassing 539 rushing yards. That bodes well for the trio of Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall, which went mute against the Tigers after a big aggregate output in the first half.

Perhaps the more compelling result for Arkansas's sake, though, was Central Arkansas pushing Texas Tech to the brink of a disastrous loss in Lubbock, Texas. The Bears fought gamely for all four quarters of a 42-35 loss, pinning a nine-point deficit on the Red Raiders early and never trailing by more than two scores. Considering that this was the first game of the Steve Campbell coaching era, in hostile territory, and with a new starting quarterback at the helm, it was a gutsy and noble showing.

Of course, the Red Raiders also rolled up their fairly standard 600-plus yards and picked the Bears' secondary apart, which is exactly why Hog fans dread this one. Auburn's two quarterbacks shredded the flaccid underbelly of the Arkansas defense and it remains to be seen whether Robb Smith will try to institute immediate personnel changes in anticipation of Kliff Kingsbury's system in two weeks. That is the storyline to take note of this weekend against the Colonels as Arkansas is heavily favored to finally snuff out nearly a full year's worth of losing. The last time the Hogs had a genuine opening-game challenge, in 2006, USC hammered them 50-14 in Fayetteville and Arkansas quietly and deliberately set forth from there with a 10-game winning streak and an SEC West championship. We'll not expect a repetition of history in that regard, but there's clearly something to be gained from an early humbling.

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

Subscribe to this thread:

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