Some thoughts as we try to win out for 5th in the West................

…in CBB’s fourth season on the Hill.

  1. The cupboard was getting bare before Petrino crashed, got barer during the J.L. Smith season, and CBB coming in after that and trying to recruit was so-so.

2 The restocking of the cupboard has been strong at some positions and has been inconsistent at others.
QB - strong, last year we had the third best QB in the SEC & this year is about the same when healthy
RB - strong,
TE - strong,
WR - surprisingly strong with OK recruits playing better than their ratings
FB - weak for a while but getting better now,
OL-initially strong but has slipped and is now struggling to get back up to SEC caliber,
DL-just OK but this last freshmen class has some bright spots,
DE-better than the DL but not at SEC West level by a long shot,
LB - weak recruiting here but last year’s recruits have some promise
CB - very weak recruiting to date and a huge void coming soon if not turned around
Safeties - weak recruiting but scheme and coaching has helped but lack of speed has been exposed a lot this year
Special Teams - below average for the SEC with consistently weak kick coverage, never ending struggle to find a
consistent kicker for field goals and strong enough kicker to get touchbacks consistently.

  1. Overall, the talent is better each year at a lot of the positions but we have recruited at about the 5th or 6th best level in the SEC West and that is where we hope to finish this year. It is obvious that we need more Agim’s and fewer project recruits if we hope to compete with the rest of the West. The needed facilities are in place. The connections in Louisiana, Florida, Missouri, and Texas are in place. It is time for our recruiting to take a big step up in quality.

  2. We returned 9 starters on defense and they returned with the same athletic ability they had the year before. We are coaching against the best coaches in football and the opposing offensive coordinators have learned how to attack Rob Smith’s defense. No matter how good you scheme and call defenses, at some point your athlete has to make a play against their athlete one-on-one. When opponents scheme to create that situation, it has been a mismatch for us over and over this year. That is not bad coaching. It is a lack of talent that can only be compensated for so much before it is exposed.

  3. If we win out, it was an OK year considering the weak defense and the rebuilding offense. Getting better starts with finishing strong on this year’s recruits and then doing better next year. Go Hogs.

Sounds like Bielema is on track for a ten year rebuild.

Good one, Jackson…

I really don’t know what to think after almost 4 years of the Bielema regime. I like him and think he is a good guy and appreciate his method of recruiting good people. I just don’t know if he can win enough to stay here for 10 years or so. A coach can only coach so well before the talent must give a team the winning edge. We don’t have the talent to really compete for the West at this time.

Couple of thoughts on your thoughts:

Special teams – Punt coverage is pretty darn good. We’re #12 in the country, and fourth in the SEC, in net punting. Only two returns all year of more than 10 yards. Kickoff coverage is iffy; we give up 21.4 yards per return, which isn’t horrible, but we’ve given up some long returns, notably the 64-yarder to TCU which darn near cost us that game. Nobody has taken one to the house, though, unlike last year (Tennessee). Kickoff return is terrible. We have not had even a 30 yard KOR all season, and average only 17.1. Punt returns are so-so, although J-Red took one to the house that was called back. We’re doing a lot of fair catching; opponents have punted 46 times and we’ve only returned 13 of them.

Special teams 2 – Touchbacks are overrated, especially with the new rule bringing it out to the 25. Our net kickoff average is 40.8. What that means is that the average starting position after one of our kickoffs is the 24; a touchback every time would mean the starting position is the 25. So we’re actually ahead by about a yard on average from that standpoint. It is true that if you kick it out the back of the end zone, they’ll never take one to the house. It is also true that if you kick it four yards deep and they run it out anyway, they may pay for that decision with bad field position – or you may pay for that decision if you don’t cover properly and they get it out past the 25.

Defense – I’m at a loss to explain why a team with a lot of returning players has retrogressed in so many ways. No, they weren’t great last year either, but you would expect the returning players to improve with experience, and for the most part they haven’t. The one thing that I can say has improved is our DBs play the ball in the air better, which helps explain why we have four pick-sixes this year (most I can remember in a long time).

OL – Discussed ad nauseam for the last two months. Kirkland should not have left, but we should have been better prepared for his departure anyway. We’re having to play inexperienced people, who will be better next year for having been thrown in the fire, but for now, we’re struggling.

Swine, our defense last year was not only not great…it was awful. One of the worst defenses in the SEC. Remember…we gave up 50 points and 600 yards on several occasions including Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and maybe another game or two. It was brutal. This year only continues the play of the last year.

Agreed and as best I can tell we’re still 2-3 really good recruiting classes away from challenging in the west. Seriously, we’re talking going on ten years IF recruiting can be elevated.

Selective memory alert: Last year, our run defense was quite good. We only gave up 116 yards a game, 12th in the country, even with getting shredded by running QBs at A&M and Ole Miss. Held LSU to under 100 yards. Passing? There’s your problem for the 2015 edition; 116th in the country at 275 ypg. Dak Prescott couldn’t miss against our secondary. Neither could Patrick Mahomes. Or Chad Kelly, and we won anyway.

This year? Run defense is getting mangled, even with holding Florida to 12 yards. We’re 103rd in the country in yards allowed, and worst in the country in yards per carry. Pass defense is much better (36th at 203 yards a game).

Arkansas gave up 600 yards once (to Mississippi State) and Texas Tech scored 35 points. The only teams to score 50 were Mississippi State (51) and Ole Miss (52 - 45 in regulation).

Matt, Ole Miss gained almost 600 yards on us last year. We were awful on defense. Our offense was superb and allowed us to win that game. My point is…last year were were bad on defense and so are we this year. Bad=Bad.

Ole Miss gained 590, 25 of which came in overtime. I’m not saying the defense wasn’t bad, but it’s inaccurate to say several teams gained 600 yards and scored 50 points.

It’s also important to note what happened in regulation vs. overtime when comparing game-to-game statistics. Auburn scored 46 points and had 416 yards of offense last season, but 22 points and 76 yards came outside of a regulation game.

I know you were taking a shot there but if the end result is being near the top of the SEC West, I would take a ten year time table in a heart beat. That would put Arkansas in the top ten in the country on a consistent basis. Staying where we are for ten years won’t happen. If CBB’s program has plateaued at around 4th or 5th in the West, you are looking at six years tops. I am willing to let it play out as long as progress is steady.

Last year, the run defense was quite weird. It was so odd, I had to take apart the numbers to get at what the averages were hiding.

In 2015, Arkansas’s run defense beyond the Hogs’ 40 was very good. Once opponents crossed the 40, things went haywire. Why is a mystery to me. Don’t know enough to be able to explain it.

You might recall reading that the Hogs’ run D this season broke the school record for rushing touchdowns allowed. That record was set last season.

Last year was bad when the Hogs allowed a rushing TD for every 15 rushing plays (excluding sacks). That number was far beyond the historical norm, by far the worst on record. Well, in 2016 it has gone to 1:11. Unbelievable.

I had to adjust the scales on all my run defense charts. No Arkansas team had ever allowed more than 5.5 yards per carry on true running plays. That had happened one time, 2013.

The 2016 Razorbacks have allowed, on average, 7.2 yards per carry. It cannot be more broken.

My best guess about why the run defense is so bad:

  • Same or worse players at defensive end, linebacker and safety.
  • Same defensive scheme that began to go wrong last season.
  • Opponents scouted us well and picked on our weaknesses more directly this time.

Finally – when I look at the better SEC defenses, they don’t have two coaches involved with the secondary and just one handling linebackers. They have it the other way around. And their recruiting efforts placed a much greater premium on linebackers than Arkansas did in 2012-15.

Arkansas also doesn’t have a single rush end who would play on any of the better SEC defenses. We go out there with two big ends and nobody who can run around the tackles. Why? When Bielema came in, he inherited Chris Smith and Trey Flowers. We have not recruited anybody who looks like them.

Appears to me that Bielema was way behind the curve in identifying the kinds of players needed on defense in the SEC, particularly at DE, LB and S. Recruiting might have adjusted by now, but this season bears the fruit of past mistakes.

Either way it’s time to start putting some blame on BB, not bandaid 100 excuses. He’s pulling recruiting classes that are better than we’ve had in the past, but seeing he isn’t an elite coach or defensive/offensive master mind they are not near good enough. Its time for him to make some serious changes, I’m already half way off the BB bus because things change so slowly with him and the defense is just an absolute embarrassment. But, for the 4th year it’s still a rebuilding year…

Based on what?

Rankings, I’m not saying they are the best we’ve ever had. But he’s pulling back end of top 25 classes, which is no where near competitive in the SEC west. I would think it would need to be atleast top 15 to be. Especially if you are a coach with no apparent strength, Oline is very bad, which he has been known for. We can’t run the ball which he is known for. The defense is basically non existent.


Based on what?
[/quote]Well based on the defensive recruitment by a coach that will remain nameless — yes, better than “that” recruitment on defense — but what kind of standard is that. “Past” might be a shorter time period term than some people remember-- before there were recruiting services. In my mind, let’s see how Froholdt turns out. That seems to be a limb he stepped out on that CBB still believes in. That might say what kind of talent evaluator he is. Right now, not a good move IMO. But if he ends up being All SEC — pretty good test.

You said that “He’s pulling recruiting classes that are better than we’ve had in the past.”

According to rankings, this isn’t the case.

Ok well if that’s the case then it makes my argument even more. A coach that isn’t necessarily a great coach in one aspect or another should be a great recruiter and be able to get his guys to rally behind him, neither is evident. Although I do think that can be argued that he isn’t producing classes that are better than in the last 10 years or so. Petrino wasn’t an elite recruiter had a couple classes rank at 21 but also some that were higher, even 41. But the difference was he is an elite offensive mind.

“Either way it’s time to start putting some blame on BB, not bandaid 100 excuses…”

I just love it when people start the “blame” game and think somehow that is productive or useful. Here are some thoughts…

  1. CBB took over a dumpster fire 4 yrs ago…
  2. in the toughest conference (and division) in the land
  3. He’s improved the record each yr and has a chance to continue that streak in yr 4…
  4. and he’s doing it with young men that seem to go to class, make their grades and stay out of trouble for the most part.

Every season has ups and downs, so we should be careful NOT to draw final conclusions based on a single week’s results… or a 2-3 wk trend. Step back and look at the challenge CBB faced when he took the job. Then look at the overall direction he has turned the program toward. I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t promise where it leads, but I like the direction and the approach. For those that may be less patient, how long should it take to go from Dumpster fire to contending for a NC? (without cheating)

So you and others may be about to “leave the CBB bus”, but color me impressed with the accomplishments thus far and encouraged about the direction we appear to be headed. Yes, I wish we were already there too, but let’s be real about this.

My only stat I can add to this - and I know some are tired of hearing it - but 24 players on this roster with legit offers from Alabama and LSU to 4 when he arrived.