Favorite

The beginning of the end? 

If Toledo triggered a sudden and unanticipated referendum on Bret Bielema, then it's likely the Texas Tech debacle — and we'll make the case herein that it was arguably a worse loss — could have sealed his exit, assuming an equally shocking reversal of fortune isn't imminent.

For months, Bielema's gamesmanship had been refreshing and amusing, and now it's deader than disco. When you spout off at coaching clinics, public gatherings and the like, it's good fodder and maybe it does serve to energize the fan base. But losses to MAC teams and Big 12 also-rans don't play well with this group.

The mood outside Reynolds Razorback Stadium last Saturday night was, bar none, the most aggressively derisive and sour as I have ever witnessed it in the 23 years since the program dedicated itself to a life of misery in the Southeastern Conference. People were stewing, and rightly so. Robb Smith's ballyhooed defense was shredded by a slight, inexperienced quarterback and a slew of undersized receivers who slanted their way to as much yardage as they wanted against a relaxed man defense. The special teams unit again floundered. Offensively, Alex Collins ran for a season-best 170 yards and showed some toughness as the Hogs tried to grind away the clock just to keep it away from Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes, but he also had zero burst when he made it into the open field. Penalties dogged the Razorbacks for the second straight week, but worse yet, the Hogs actually needed the calls to go their way after a shockingly inept defensive performance.

The Red Raiders are 3-0 after a 4-8 year, and Kliff Kingsbury was feeling his oats so much in the aftermath that he besmirched Bielema repeatedly, declared the 11-point win an "ass-kicking," and all but declared the nonconference clash between unranked flyweights to be some kind of vindication for the spread offense. Well, it really wasn't. Sorry to disappoint the Raiders' chirpy cover boy, but knocking off a wounded, demoralized Hog team at this point is no way a triumph of methodology. Last year, Arkansas bulled its way to well over 400 rushing yards in a 21-point rout of the Raiders, who entered that home game 2-0 while the Hogs hadn't beaten a FBS team in a full year. Bielema indisputably needs to eat crow, but Kingsbury doesn't need to be serving it.

Now that we've dispensed with discussions about two insolent head coaches who haven't earned the privilege, let's focus on where this seemingly lost autumn can and should head from here. First of all, once again, Brandon Allen is the undeserved whipping boy. Despite sketchy protection, he is staying upright and showing newfound mobility. The senior is also completing passes at a rather staggering clip to a receiving corps that is now down to Drew Morgan, JoJo Robinson, Kendrick Edwards and maybe a couple of extras from "Little Giants." Jared Cornelius had such a nice opener against UTEP and then had an electric punt return touchdown taken away against Toledo, and a really garish arm-break against Tech. His season is likely finished, and with Keon Hatcher and Cody Hollister weeks from returning, the impetus is on the tight ends more than ever to make yards after the catch. Allen has missed badly on a couple of critical tosses, but he's far from the problem.

No, that dishonor rests at the feet of Smith's defensive unit, which is thoroughly lacking in leadership now that Trey Flowers and Martrell Spaight cannot be leaned upon. It's still a commendably talented group, but in the absence of a field general, it finds itself floundering. Linebacker Brooks Ellis was left exposed by the Raiders' spread attack, often embarrassingly out of position, but not due to his own lack of effort. There were no discernible halftime adjustments made, Mahomes was never pressured (presumably out of fear for his mobility), and the depth that Bielema crowed about was nowhere to be found.

All this sounds super, huh? Well, now Arkansas limps to Arlington, Texas, to face a seemingly resurgent Texas A&M team, yet the betting line opened with the Aggies as a rather modest favorite. As always, take lessons from Las Vegas: The bookmakers recognize that the Razorbacks are not without talent, but presently without heart and motivation. SEC play tends to change that, and moreover, it's within the realm of reason to think that the upstart Aggies got too much love for a win over an Arizona State team that then struggled to beat two out-of-conference pushovers. These Aggies may be a bit better equipped defensively than in prior years, but Arkansas still, shockingly, can do good things against it if mouths close and minds engage.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Bret Bielema, Arkansas Razorbacks

  • 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/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 2

    August 10, 2017
    The second leg of the 2017 Arkansas football season is no picnic, metaphorically or otherwise. /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/
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

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

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty DogsĀ & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

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