With everything else that happened last night, this was overlooked a little. Yesterday was the 10th game in which Arkansas blew a double-digit lead during the Bret Bielema era. Notice eight of those games are against Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Missouri.
2013 - Rutgers (Arkansas led 24-7 in third quarter; lost 28-24)
2013 - Mississippi State (Arkansas led 10-0 in second quarter; lost 24-17 in OT)
2014 - Texas A&M (Arkansas led 28-14 in fourth quarter; lost 35-28 in OT)
2014 - Mississippi State (Arkansas led 10-0 in second quarter; lost 17-10)
2015 - Mississippi State (Arkansas led 42-31 in fourth quarter; lost 51-50)
2016 - Missouri (Arkansas led 24-7 in third quarter; lost 28-24)
2016 - Virginia Tech (Arkansas led 24-0 in third quarter; lost 35-24)
2017 - Texas A&M (Arkansas led 21-10 in second quarter; lost 50-43 in OT)
2017 - Mississippi State (Arkansas led 14-0 in second quarter; lost 28-21)
2017 - Missouri (Arkansas led 28-14 in second quarter; lost 48-45)
I can’t explain the blown leads. Perhaps it’s lack of depth. Perhaps it’s lack of conditioning. If it’s the latter, that’s on the coach. I don’t think it’s lack of passion. I can understand blowing some leads. The one against MSU never appeared safe to me. They were just a better team & our 14 points came of really lucky breaks. The same with MU yesterday. I didn’t think we’d continue to stop it’s high-powered offense.
I will say this. In this era of lots of offense & not so much defense, a 14-21 point lead isn’t what it once was. A&M blew a huge one against UCLA this year. A whole bunch of big leads have disappeared in Big 12 games. Ole Miss blew a huge lead against FSU last season. If I had time, I could think of a lot of other large leads that have been blown in the last year or two. However, I admit we’ve had way too many.
Obviously those blown leads played a role in BB’s firing, but also the many blowout losses under his leadership. I’m one who hoped he’d get another year because of the type of man he is and what we have coming back, but the the way we have lost over the last 14 games led to the inevitable and I fully understand it. My son summed it up for me yesterday when he said “once again we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”…
Since we have heard numerous theories ranging from the Coaches weight to lack of conditioning and or passion, I would like to throw out a rather far fetched theory on losing leads. My theory is primarily that we have had poor secondary play. When teams are playing from behind, very often the passing game becomes more prominent. While Clay and others have accurately described the scarcity of SEC quality defensive linemen, I wonder if quality cornerbacks are not also pretty scarce. We see that LSU and Alabama always seem to have them, so maybe we just don’t get our share. I wonder how many people really acknowledge the loss of Pulley to this defense. Pulley’s position was victimized this season, not that we were flawless in other aspects of the secondary, sure have some high hopes for Montaric giving us something to see at Safety.
Don’t know that the scheme tried to pressure the passer with much frequency, but guess if I were calling the shots and the secondary was having the consistent difficulty that ours had, I wonder if I would have been tempted to shorten the coverage time by more attacking and blitzing. All this said, I find it sad to attack Bret’s weight or the teams heart, especially after one is fired and the others are completing a difficult season where regardless of other opinions, I will believe they worked very hard and gave it their best effort.
If you can,watch last nights Razorback Nation segment with DJ Williams and Mike Irwin. DJ made the comment that he watched several practices and was dismayed, distressed, disappointed or something similar at what he saw. He said that the team did not practice hard. The music etc. He went on to explain how that affects game performance. He closed by saying if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.