Favorite

So many chances for Razorbacks 

Where. To. Begin.

At the outset, let's point out that Arkansas, though recently liberated of the albatross of a 10-game losing streak that bracketed nearly a full year, still had not won an SEC game since pelting woeful Kentucky in Fayetteville all the way back in 2012. And the Hogs had not beaten a ranked conference team since dismantling South Carolina the November prior to that, when all seemed so rosy.

So this little statement game against sixth-ranked Texas A&M was one hellacious measuring stick on a schedule front- and back-loaded with them. Here was Arkansas's golden opportunity to convince America how fast and how furious it has worked to launch itself from doormat. And guess what? The Hogs did genuinely succeed in that regard. You don't check a Kevin Sumlin offense to 14 points for three quarters and display fearlessness in all facets of play over that same stretch and not consider it a pretty significant triumph. Arkansas had explosive plays in the passing and running game, and on special teams, and that translated to what appeared to be a commanding posture heading into the final minutes.

The spirited revelry ended there, though, and it's that nasty aftertaste of another dodgy fourth quarter, debilitating errors and bewildering play-calling that still haunts Hog fans days after the Aggies finished off a 35-28 overtime win that felt so sickeningly familiar. Now, the postmortem has conventionally called out penalties, namely two massive mistakes by Dan Skipper (whom, I might add, has a really hard time hiding from the officials) that negated a full field's length of gains, cited A&M's deep threats getting loose twice in the fourth quarter for long scores and pointed out that John Henson's badly whiffed field goal attempt gave the Aggies the CPR they had to have in the waning moments. But this game wasn't decided in the fourth quarter, and if you review the tape you'll see that the Hogs should have had this contest well in hand much earlier in the afternoon.

They once again smartly executed the game plan and ate up 37 minutes of regulation with the ball. This columnist, never prescient about much, offered this basic prescription for accomplishment back in the summer. The problem? The offense only generated three scores (punter Sam Irwin-Hill's long scoring run on the fake punt call before halftime being the other) and that's simply not enough. Yes, the Skipper penalties cut two more presumed touchdowns out, but there was something strangely erratic about the Hog offense in Dallas. The Hogs played behind the chains a little bit too much, and weren't quite in sync even in building that two-touchdown lead. Brandon Allen was very good once again, yet his receivers had little meaningful impact, as Keon Hatcher, Kendrick Edwards, Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius combined for seven grabs, 94 yards and no scores. That would've been serviceable against Texas Tech, but against the Raiders' much deeper in-state brethren, it was paltry and evidence of an advantage that the Hogs didn't exploit nearly enough.

It's also beyond dispute that the quality of Jim Chaney's play-calling went decidedly southward once that precarious lead was built. The largest offensive line in the free world, road-grading for a spectacular running back tandem to the tune of another 200-plus yards, was inexplicably called upon late to pass-block on second down three separate times in the fourth quarter. Yet when a deft play-action throw might've been called for on third-and-7 with less than three minutes remaining and the Hogs clinging to a 28-21 lead, Alex Collins got stuffed on a short run. That left it up to the untested Henson to pull a long attempt hard left, a situation in which the kicker frankly should have never been placed.

Therein lies the nagging pain that our long-nurtured inferiority complex has wrought upon us interested Razorback fans. Murphy's Law seems to have this football program in a vise, and even as the Hogs seemed absolutely destined to shock the world Saturday in Arlington, they couldn't escape their history. Bret Bielema correctly and astutely noted that all the failings on this particular afternoon were imminently fixable, but he's having to wrestle with a culture and a long-held perception rather than a mere trend. What the schedule does afford the Hogs is the luxury of opportunity: The past two seasons, the Alabama game was a source of obvious dread, borne out by 52-0 scores in 2012 (that team quit) and 2013 (that team simply was overmatched). This year, though, it's a chance at redemption, and a seemingly reachable one.

As a bye week is ahead, it's easily the best-timed contest against the Crimson Tide in a while. The Hogs can spend a week doing what Bielema is pledging to do, which is right whatever wrongs surfaced in the late going against Auburn and Texas A&M. This Arkansas team is so much better equipped to play the Tide now, and Alabama will be coming off what theoretically will be a taxing game against Ole Miss.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

  • Thumped again

    October 19, 2017
    Seems like a bad prescription for beating the all-pro assemblage of talent that dons Alabama garb year in, year out, but the Arkansas Razorbacks started their third quarterback in three years against the Crimson Tide, and the end result was predictable. /more/
  • 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/
  • 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/
  • 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/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Thumped again

    Seems like a bad prescription for beating the all-pro assemblage of talent that dons Alabama garb year in, year out, but the Arkansas Razorbacks started their third quarterback in three years against the Crimson Tide, and the end result was predictable.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • 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
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Thumped again

    Seems like a bad prescription for beating the all-pro assemblage of talent that dons Alabama garb year in, year out, but the Arkansas Razorbacks started their third quarterback in three years against the Crimson Tide, and the end result was predictable.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • 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
  • 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

  • Re: Thumped again

    • No new life for the Hogs this week. Gus will have the Tigers focused and…

    • on October 19, 2017
 

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