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...

  • 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

Subscribe to this thread:

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