Matt, Dudley, & Clay: Program Questions

These are not easy, but that’s why they pay you the big bucks :smiley: As insiders I’d ask that you address three questions about the football program:

  1. Is this program at the beginning of year five where you expected it to be when Bielema was hired in December of 2012? If the answer is no what do you think are the primary reason(s) for the progress being slower than you anticipated?

  2. Based on the talent on the current roster how long do you think it it will take for Bielema to assemble a roster that can compete successfully on a consistent basis in the conference? I define successfully as 4-4 or better more years than not?

  3. Based on the results to date do you think this program is performing at a level that Bielema should be retained for year six? If the answer is you need to see how the rest of the season plays out what do think needs to happen between now and Missouri for you to answer in the affirmative? I know you don’t make the call, but I’d like to hear your opinions.

Thanks in advance for your responses!

I thought there were two elements to his Wisconsin program that would translate to Arkansas: the running game and the ability to stop the run. Both of those areas have failed to live up to what he had at Wisconsin.

The power run game looked like it had arrived in 2014 with those games against Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Texas and maybe some others. But I think there was a clear philosophy switch by Bielema when he hired Dan Enos. He even alluded to that last week on the teleconference. For instance, he does not believe in time of possession being as important as he did when he arrived.

The SEC really began to pivot to more hurry-up spread run offenses the year Bielema arrived. That was something he didn’t see much in the Big Ten and his defenses have been slow to adapt. Like hiring Enos, I think elevating Paul Rhoads after last year signaled that his philosophy has changed on that side of the ball.

As far as number of wins, I figured Arkansas would be about a 7-9 win per year team under Bielema, which has been the case with the exception of the first year. I think it could be the case this year, too. TCU is a lot better than anyone gave it credit for being two weeks ago and I think Texas A&M is a pretty good team. There are a lot of winnable games left for Arkansas, including the next two.

I think the roster now is as good as it has been since he arrived, but a lot of the players to be excited about are young. I see a lot of pieces for a solid team in 2018. The run game could be especially good and there are players to build around on defense such as Agim, Greenlaw, Harris and Pulley. Defensive recruiting was as good in the last class as it has been in a while with the likes of Brown, Calloway and Curl, who has played surprisingly well for his first two starts.

I’ve thought for a few years that 2018 could be Bielema’s best team if he can last that long. The pieces are in place if a QB can be developed.

I think that if Arkansas reaches a bowl game he will be retained for another year. The only way I can’t see him being retained is if he loses a couple of games the Razorbacks obviously should win, like the Missouri game last year. TCU and Texas A&M were not those types of games.