I’ve heard CBB say several times that he was not happy about Kirkland leaving early. He said at the Catfish Hole radio show (I’m paraphrasing): “You invest in a player, you develop him; then you don’t have him when he’s playing at his best. I would have rather redshirted both Kirkland, and Skipper. If we had, we would have had them both for 4 or 5 years.”
CBB’s system depends on developing players. It’s at its best when he has physical 4-5 year players to go along with the skilled younger players. I think he made a decision to redshirt players on the OL, and on D, so he would have better teams in the coming years. He wants to win championships. I think he expected more than 7 wins, but he knew this would not be a championship team. His system can win championships, but it cannot by repeating what he’s had to do in year 1-4, i.e., playing guys before they’re developed, and losing them too early. He had to flip the switch to have any chance of finishing on top in the SEC.
Personally, I’m fine with a 7 win season this year, if it leads to a few 9-10+ seasons over the next five years. Hope we see results in 2017!
I think you have some really good points and if he hadn’t lost the last two games like he did, then I believe there would be a lot more on board with him. Auburn, while painful, would fade and be a (bad) footnote if he had won at Missouri and VT.
Arkansas success has to be based on development of players. As much as we want to be a player, we simply do not recruit at the level of the blue blood elite. We have to find enough diamonds in the rough and polish them up. To your point, that takes some time.
I also believe we are going to start seeing 9 and 10 win seasons. I completely understand why many think we wont.
He said (I can’t find it, but know I read it), a week or so ago, that year 5 is when a rebuilding program should really come together. He also won his first B1G championship in year 5 at Wisconsin (followed by 2 more Championships). It looks to me like he’s established his own “line in the sand” for where this team should be at the end of this coming season.
And, I don’t believe that “line in the sand” next year is an SECW championship so long as Saban is at Bama. However, it should be his goal, and it should be clear that the Hogs look like a clear contender for the championship. The team should look like it did in BP’s 3rd and 4th years. A championship should be possible next season if Bama and/or LSU are not hitting on all cylinders.
Anything less than 9 wins in the regular season should be considered a failure to meet the goals (barring catastrophic injuries). I’m sure most fans will consider it a failure, and I’d be surprised if CBB wouldn’t feel the same way.
Other than the schedule (Bama and LSU on the road), next year may be set up better to meet those goals than any year since he’s been here. The offense should be very stout with a very good Sr QB, 2 SEC caliber RBs and an experienced O-line. He needs to do whatever it takes to put at least an average SEC defense on the field. If that happens, it could be a pretty magical year for the Hogs. If not, he better be prepared to stand most of the following year because his seat will be too hot to sit on it.
I’m all for player development, but I think we need to some coaching development to go along with that. Our coaches are not adjusting to adjustments or showing much situational awareness in games where we are leading in the second half.
I think we went into the season with BB and staff knowing that the OL was a weak link, and we tried to scheme our way around it. To some extent we were successful; we did produce the SEC rushing leader. Where it showed up more was goal line offense and pass protection. I think the staff probably expected the defense to be much better than it was, and that’s being reflected in the changes I think we’ll see, from the 3-4 to likely staff shakeup. The second half problems? No one expected that, especially after we had to rally late to beat La Tech.
But the bigger question is, was this a one-year blip or a trend? I think it was a blip. Another year of experience and strength for the OL will help. A lot easier to replace one starter than to do a complete shuffle as we did this year, grabbing defensive linemen and shifting everyone all over the line to plug holes.
We’ve seen blips before. We went 5-5 in 1963 and finished fourth in the SWC, behind Rice for cryin’ out loud (which I think is the last time that ever happened). Then we won 22 straight. Went 4-5-1 in '67, then 28-5 the next three years. Went 5-5-1 in '76, then 11-1 in '77 with the same people.
I expect that 2016 will be a blip. If it isn’t, BB’s seat will get very, very warm. We may not win 10 games, because the SEC is still brutal and Bama is still Bama, but the defense will improve, AA will not get pummeled and we will limit the second half foldups.
This year would have been much different if we had a decent defense and an experienced Oline. I think a defensive scheme that is built for our talent is going to make a difference. The only time Smith’s defense worked is with NFL talents in Spaight, Flowers, Philon and Mitchell.
Our Dline is an enigma until we know if we will run a 4-3 or 3-4. We have some guys with experience in Bijohn Jackson, Capps, Agim, Beanum, and Roessler. Taylor, Guidry and Marshall were redshirted so that is a major plus for this spring.
It looks like our LB’s will have more speed this year with Greenlaw, Harris and Ramsey to build around. These LB’s should not let as many off players loose that a mediocre speed secondary has to react to.
Improved LB play will help the secondary improve a lot. The secondary is going to have major turnover. We will be able to count on Tolliver and Pulley to build a group around and that is it. Richardson and Tutt will come off Redshirt for spring. New signees will have a serious chance at playing time.
The Dline was full of athletic fast twitch guys that were asked to be knuckle dragging pluggers. Agim, Ledbetter, Wise, and to some degree Johnson were asked to completely negate their top skills as run pluggers.
Evidence that the Smith Defense was wrong for our players was our bowl game against VaTech. The Mizzery loss was bad enough that Bielema forced a Def philosophy change for the bowl.
The VaTech game’s first half Defense Smith used an attacking front 4 and showed what Smith wasted all year. Ledbetter was a beast, Wise was active, and Agim was more active. The LB’s were much better with Greenlaw playing even though he was rusty. The back 4 played better because Greenlaw was not letting as many players loose and cleaning up Ellis’s lack of speed at times.