After suffering the second worst loss in the history of Razorback Stadium, the Hogs finish their four-game gauntlet Saturday as they travel to Tuscaloosa to face the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0). The 6:00 kickoff will be televised by ESPN.
We knew this was going to be a tough stretch, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what they saw Saturday. The complete disassembly of everything the coaches had built since they got here was on display in the 52-7 loss. Confidence and pride were all but gone. It looked like last year.
The problems were too numerous to mention here. But the thing that we were left with as we exited the stadium was – this is going to take longer than most of us expected, wanted, or hoped it would. When tough teams like Florida and South Carolina have hit us in the mouth, and the Hogs were presented with some adversity, we have wilted. Young teams often do.
“I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told our team,” Bielema said in his postgame remarks. “(Saturday) is a day that you have to put in the memory bank and vow that you’ll never let it happen again as a head coach, as an assistant coach, as a coordinator, as a player, second string, third string. Just unacceptable.”
Many were pointing the finger at quarterback Brandon Allen, who followed up a bad game at Florida with a dismal 4-for-12, 30 PaYds performance. Of those 30 yards, 20 came on an opening drive completion to Javontee Herndon. But it wasn’t just the stats.
Allen has been hit hard the last couple of weeks. Couple that with his lingering shoulder injury, and the combination has left him skittish in the pocket, throwing off his back foot, making bad decisions and generally looking to get the rock out of his hands at any cost.
Give the Gamecocks credit, as they played what Steve Spurrier called their best game of the year. Quarterback Connor Shaw was efficient (19-28, 219 PaYds, 3TDs) and running back Mike Davis (128 RuYds, TD) was the best back we’ve seen all season. The Hogs defense couldn’t get off the field, as Carolina was 9-for-16 on 3rd downs and 5-for-5 on 4th downs.
Injuries reared their ugly head again too. Team captain, senior defensive tackle Robert Thomas broke a bone in his leg that required season ending surgery. Darius Philon, a Mobile, Alabama native, will get his first start in Thomas’ spot Saturday.
Meanwhile, Alabama continued their run, rolling up 668 total yards in a 48-7 blowout win over Kentucky. After a scoreless first quarter that saw the Tide turn the ball over twice, Bama and quarterback A.J. McCarron (359 PaYds, TD) stormed back. Both running backs T.J. Yeldon (124 RuYds, 2TDs) and Kenyan Drake (106 RuYds, 2TDs) had their way with the Wildcats.
The one bright spot though was the Tide did give up a touchdown Saturday – the first one since surviving Texas A&M 49-42 five weeks ago. Alabama has outscored their last four opponents 149-16.
It’s hard to see a way for the Hogs to keep this on close. Thankfully, Nick Saban has a history of holding the score down, and we’re quite certain he will get a chance to practice that this week. A much need bye week awaits the Hogs next.
The extended forecast for Saturday calls for a 50 percent chance of showers and a game time temperature in the low 70s. Alabama is favored by 28.