Do we lack speed?

Its funny how narratives develop. As the Hogs are on a terrible downturn, the narrative I am hearing on the radio and reading online is that we “lack speed.” I just heard Bo and Matt Jones talking about this.

There is no doubt it would be nice to have more speed. Are we as fast as Bama and LSU? No. Auburn? Probably not.

But lack of speed is NOT why we are losing. I think people simply don’t like to watch the line of scrimmage. They watch the ball. And “lack of speed” is such an easy criticism to make.

No…its not lack of speed. We are losing because we are getting whipped at the line of scrimmage. Particularly the offensive line. THAT is the huge problem. Clay was right to write about it. That and we lack depth and perhaps good ole ability.

But back to speed. Let’s look at each position:

WR - Which group of receivers was better: Morgan/Hatcher/Cornelius or Nance/Stewart/Jones? I think we would all agree group one is easily superior…at least as of today. But the second group…the current group…is FAR faster. Not even close. Jones and Stewart are both far faster than anyone that played alot last year. Are they better players? No. But its not lack of speed.

RB - Rawleigh Williams was a very good RB. But he was not a burner. Haydon and Devwah are both definitely faster than Rawleigh. Looking around the league Haydon/Williams/Whaley are right where you want your running backs in terms of speed. Whaley was a track star. Haydonmis apparently faster. Look at their burst on the rare occasions that they are able to cut it loose. There is plenty of speed. Devwah has a great burst. He doesn’t seem to see lanes sometimes…on the rare occasion there is one.

TE - Do we lack speed there? Goodness no. We have NFL prototypes in terms of size and speed. At least two will play in the NFL. Maybe 3. Even national pundits have said we may have the best stable of TE’s in terms of talent in the nation. Now…are they all good “football payers?” Not yet…no. But the speed and size is there.

QB - We DO lack speed at QB. Duh. But that’s a philosophical decision. Recruit pure passers. The much loved scumbag Petrino recruited the same type. And all you Allen haters…guess who loved the Allen brothers?

OK…over to defense:

Outside LB - We probably do lack speed here. Though Ramsey isn’t slow at all. But it would be nice to have future NFL types here, with more speed.

Inside LB - Who in the country has faster ILBers than us? Show them to me. Our 2 can really really really run. Are there better inside backers? Yes. Are they alot faster? No

Corner - Pulley was our fastest corner. Losing him hurts. But big pass plays against us have not been because our corners get outrun. Curl is green. But coming. Tolliver isn’t getting thrown at much and apparently getting NFL interest. Calloway is the most touted corner we signed in years. We need more depth here, no question. But the starting speed is good.

Safety/Nickel - We do probably lack speed at nickel. And Santos is not especially fast…though he has played pretty dang well. Liddell is a weak link in my opinion…but he has run down people for years. He can really run! He’s just not “good”. Being fast doesn’t make you good.

D-line - Sosa runs plenty well for a d-lineman. The rest do probably lack speed. Guidry seems pretty agile and has some speed. But he’s not one of the top 5-6 seems to me. He has not been what we’d hoped.

So…as we all criticize, evaluate, and fret…let’s be clear. We have a team built to dominate up front. Especially on offense. And we just aren’t. That’s on the coaching staff. I won’t argue that. But to simply say we lack speed is shortsighted and simplistic IMO.

Bama’s LB’ers and possibly a D-lineman or 2 can run with any of our skill guys.

All I heard this off season was how much faster this team would be.

Speed is always an issue. This team is faster. It is definitely faster at linebacker. They are getting to the backs and making tackles, not allowing as many long runs. I do not think they are winning in the trenches. When you don’t get people blocked, speed isn’t going to show up. I don’t think there is any question that Jordan Jones brings more speed to the wide receiver group. T.J. Hammonds has speed, too.

I just don’t see this team winning battles up front. Line play must improve.

I know this is completely hypothetical, but what if Bret runs his course, ends up gone at the end of the season and we get a new HC. Does he come in and pull all of the OL offers we’ve sent out? I really question if any of these kids have what it takes, being that Anderson recruited them.

Maybe I’m way off, but Anderson can’t coach the OL I’m questioning if he knows how to recruit it either.

I think there is speed on the roster in the younger classes, which means it may not show up this year because a lot of those guys don’t have the staff’s trust to get on the field yet.

On offense, De’Vion Warren, Chase Hayden, Jarrod Barnes, Jordan Jones and T.J. Hammonds all have high-end SEC speed/quickness. In a few years, that should be a pretty good group.

Defensively, it’ll be interesting to see how the young DBs look in the spring. Their secondary could be pretty salty next year if guys like Montaric, Chevin and maybe someone else can join what is a solid trio in Santos, Ryan and Kamren. I think Dre and Scoota both have good speed. There is a lack of speed/size/athleticim on the defensive line, which is obviously a big deal. They need Emmitt Gooden to make an immediate impact.

To Hogmaestro:
Good analysis. Speed is not the issue, only on some positions you mentioned. The problem with this team is that we are trying to play a Power Game without the power. The coaching staff can not come to recognize this. They keep on plugging with the same plays, that has made them predictable; plays that is not working. If the staff had the knack for playing to the present talent, we could have been good. We don’t lack talent, we are playing a game that is not suited for our talent. They are going to stay the course, until the wheels comes off. BB is playing football the only way he knows. And that is not the right one for this group.

It takes heart to fight to the bitter end. No fire is shown. This team is faster than last year or even the year before. They can’t block a wheelchair right now. That’s the whole issue.

Sometimes when people talk of speed they may mean quickness. That is very important in the lines. Olinemen must have very quick feet. I don’t see that on our team. Oline does not need great 40 times, but they must be quick enough to stay in front of the very athletic defensive types. Who knows if our backs can run. All they had a chance to do is run into the dline in our backfield because the oline was wipped badly and/or out quicked.

Forty type speed is more important on the dline, but it can be overcome with that first step quickness. We don’t seem to have that. Saturday, you will see what dlinemen are suppose to be like and they will not be wearing white.

Speed and quickness in the back end of the defense is obvious. It has to be there along with being quick. Knowing where to be with that speed is also critical. Lou always said about speed that it can sometimes get you to the wrong place faster.

I agree with you 100%, Maestro. We have the speed necessary to win a lot of games. But I don’t think the speed is translating. We aren’t “playing fast” as the coaches would put it. The big difference between our defense and Alabama’s is they are moving much more quickly at the LB and Safety positions. Their players FLY around the field. A big part of that is knowing the opponent’s offense and your specific job on each play. Sometimes our guys look like they have no idea what’s going on, and no amount of athleticism can make up for that (see also: Brian Wallace).

Arkansas offensive line commits so far this season are Pulaski Academy’s Luke Jones (6-5, 290) and Jonesboro’s Noah Gatlin (6-7, 300).

Like what I see out of both of them as do some 40 other schools.

The staff also have offers out a few big-timers that everybody is on, but odds seem long on those.

The coaches also have at least two offers out to junior college OL in Iowa Western’s Noah Banks (6-7, 295) and Arizona Western’s Jahmnir Johnson (6-6, 290).

I would say if you came in and tossed the Arkansas kids out, you would be in even bigger trouble.

That would be the epitome of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.