April 23, 2017

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — Virginia Tech

Some random thoughts after the Razorbacks historic 35-24 collapse to Virginia Tech on Thursday in Charlotte.

Jerod Evans (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)The Good

  • The Hogs historic collapse Thursday was made even more perplexing due in part to the fantastic first half they played. The defense held the Hokies to 180 total yards, while the offense moved the ball seemingly at will. Austin Allen was a sharp as we’ve seen him, posting 13-for-16 for 215 PaYds and 2TDs in the first half. His 13.4 yards per attempt was off the charts on the efficiency meter.  It was fun while it lasted.

The Bad

  • The day got off to a banner start with the news of the Jeremy Sprinkle suspension. Sprinkle took it upon himself to liberate a few more items from the Belk Bowl shopping spree afforded the players this week. Players were given a $450 gift card AND a 20% off managers discount to buy whatever they wanted. Apparently that wasn’t enough for the senior tight end, who may have derailed a certain NFL career over socks, underwear, shirts and two wallets.
  • The Razorbacks 24-point second half collapse was the worst in the modern era. The 21-point comeback by Louisiana-Monroe in the famous John L. Smith year of 2012 appears to be the previous mark. This one will not soon be forgotten.
  • Tommy Craft of ESPN 96.3 said it best…the Hogs were the second worst unit on the field Thursday. The Big 12 officiating crew was without question the worst we have seen in a good while. From the endless conversations after each call, to the famous 5+ minute delay to figure out what the rule was for an inadvertent whistle, the group certainly added to the frustration for both teams.
  • ESPN announcers Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham…enough said.

The Ugly

  • Senior wide receiver Drew Morgan had a ‘memorable’ finale for sure. Morgan managed to fumble twice, once through the end zone after a 74-yard reception that ended up being called a touchback. Up 24-7 in the third quarter, the score would have potentially ‘righted the Hogs ship’ and put them back up by 24. Morgan capped off his evening by being called for a flagrant personal foul, and ejected for spitting in the face of a Virginia Tech player. I guess if you are going to go out…go out in flames. A fitting end to a historic day.

Of course, we can’t possibly mention everything that was “Good, Bad and Ugly.” What did we leave out?

  • OwassoHog

    UGLY!!!! –> Once again… no second half adjustments! 🙁

    • Chickasaw1

      No second half adjustment? Now that is true and I have wondered why. Perhaps thinking they are wearing the other team down but they are unfortunately the ones being worn down.

  • GolfHog

    Recruiting, Style of Play (offense or defense), Special Teams, Game Management, Half time adjustments, Player Development, Discipline, Focus, this team is adrift. There is really too much to fix at this point.
    We are the mediocre we intended to be. This is what it looks like. Anyone old enough to remember Danny Ford will recall.

    • Roadhog

      I’m afraid you are right that there is too much to fix about this program. The main problem is Bielema himself, IMO. It’s time for Jeff Long to step in and evaluate the program. Bielema cannot evaluate himself. I think something is seriously awry with morale on this team, and Bielema may have lost the confidence of the players and staff. Just a feeling, based on performance on the field and body language displayed along the sidelines.

      Upside: I think you may have won the pool! Could help you control your drinking!!! I’ve enjoyed your comments this season. Happy New year!

      • GolfHog

        I didn’t win the pool. Nothing could help control my drinking.
        On the one hand, I could have been easier on Bert, its his fate, not mine. I just have to watch the games. On the other hand, there is more that could have been said. He was guaranteed $24 mil and 6 years, he has been paid to do the job or fade the heat.

        • TheRealQDaMan and Golf tied for the closest prediction and Q won the random drawing.

          • GolfHog

            You should give two.

      • Chickasaw1

        If Bilema is the problem, (I do not think he is), then the actual problem is who hired Bilema, Anderson, and Petrino. Anderson cannot develop basketball players…so great players leaving Arkansas to play knows he cannot develop them. On the plus side is that Bilema and Anderson are graduating their players which is of course a great thing and better than previous coaches.

  • TNarch

    Every year about now, I start the countdown to next football season. This year, I’ll just look forward to the end of summer and those pretty fall colors.

  • Brian Baer

    As I have said before, being a stout Razorback alumni and fan living in the state of Alabama is extremely difficult. I wear the colors all the time and never miss a game on TV. I read something a month ago on some sports column about how in this century, the Razorback’s average win total is 7 wins per season. Some years a bit more, some a bit less, but 7 wins. I work with Bama, Auburn and LSU fans primarily and until we can start recruiting better against these West teams, we are doomed to be a 7-8 win team on average, year after year. It is so difficult to have elation and depression in seemingly each game of late.
    Oh well…Go Hogs!

    • roadhog

      Recruiting is definitely fate. The current recruiting class is rated 10th in the conference, about where it has been the last few years. I don’t see how to improve the win column with this level of talent, without exceptional player development. I don’t believe Bielema has the charisma or the personality to attract better players.

  • oldskooljt

    The Good – The first half performance
    The Bad – The second half performance
    The Ugly – Knowing that the 2nd half collapse was possible and not being surprised when it happened

  • Roadhog

    Good: If this loss hastens the departure of Bielema it will have been worth the frustration.

    Bad: I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

    Ugly: The actions of Sprinkle and Morgan. They have disgraced the team, the UofA, the fans, and, most of all, themselves. Could it be that this lack of character is what keeps this team from performing late in games when momentum swings against them? I think it was the great John Wooden who declared that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. I hate to see what has been revealed about the character of this team and this program. For shame. Worse than a physical injury, these mistakes will haunt the players for the rest of their lives.

    • When you have good junior/senior leadership on a team, you don’t see collapses like that. Players will rise up and stop it by making a play or implore others to meet the level of play of your opponent. Just overall a mentally weak bunch at this point.

  • NielsBoar

    Sprinkle, Morgan, more turnovers than first downs in the second half, the refs, the commentators, the jekyll and hyde routine, just absolutely the most sickening game I can remember (and that includes every Johnelle and Nutt game).

  • Paco

    The problem is Bielema.

    Spend the off season being the star of a reality show instead of being a football coach and you wind up with a team that can’t get its priorities straight. Would Saban allow ESPN to make a reality show of his life in the off season? Never in a million years.

    I’ve said for several seasons that the epic collapses we keep witnessing are indicative of a deeply rooted weakness in the coach. I don’t know if it’s a failure to inspire, a failure to organize, a failure to instill discipline and confidence, or just plain laziness in preparation. But there is something sloppy about any Bielema team, even his best teams. All of them are plagued by an inordinate inconsistency in execution, and a sporadic will to fight. And the problem chronic. Meaning it isn’t going to get any better.

    Bielema won many hearts with his brand of old school, ground-and-pound football. But it is NOT a winning strategy to try to beat Alabama at their own game in their own house when you can’t possibly have their caliber of athletes. It’s foolhardy. It sets you up to be number 2 at BEST. Malzahn understands that. Sumlin understands that. Petrino understood that too, and his tenure at Arkansas (with its fast-paced, explosive aerial attack) gave us our only real chance at being a contender in the conference. Those were the glory days. But we ran him off. Because what he did was immoral, and we are a moralistic little backwater state where people lack the sophistication to view morality in terms other than simplistic black and white. And in his place we got the portly gentleman caller, Bret Bielema, who courted us in secret: “Hi. You don’t know me, but I understand you just got a divorce. I’m still in a relationship, but I’ve always admired you from afar. Maybe we should get together. Just to see what happens, you know?”

    Thus Bielema carpet-bagged his way into our state and our conference, bringing with him a boat load of mediocrity exceeded only by the steam ship of phony bravado that came right behind it.

    Oh, and Petrino? Well, Louisville didn’t feel the need to put on the same little morality play, and so they took him right in. Now he’s back in the top 10, and he’ll probably stay there perennially, while Arkansas scraps to come in at the bottom of the top 25. On a good year.

    • Well said and good points. We’re stuck with him for now though…no way they pay $15.4M to cut him loose.

      • steve_uno

        True, we’re stuck for now. The wheels came off this season and you can point to poor coaching, recruiting, schematics, senior leadership, etc. As Doc has suggested, CB ought to ditch the “uncommon” slogan. But I’m not sure it’s time to adopt a phrase like “just win baby ” (Al Smith) or “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” (you-know-who). Let’s all step back, take a deep breath, and see what happens in the off-season and next fall, since we’re stuck for now. WPS!

        • GolfHog

          Or, with two years to work, you could begin to understand that ” poor coaching, recruiting, schematics, senior leadership, etc.” has become a symptom of a systematic failure.
          When both your AD and your Head Coach have higher priorities than football you will never reverse the trend.
          And, there may simply be no leadership on hand. When David Pryor called out the Admin on the end zone he was passed quietly by.
          This may just be our future, the tail wagging the dog, TV money ahead of football. But if it is to be KUWTK, let’s at least get a better show.

          • steve_uno

            You got 15 mil to cut him loose?

    • NielsBoar

      We’ve all espoused some definition of morality, even if it is a rejection of traditional standards. Your attempt to disguise “win at all costs” morality as somehow an evolved level of thinking relative to us backwater hicks is transparent, and even simpler than us simple folk.

      Bielema is not the answer. Petrino isn’t either.

      • Paco

        No, Niels. Nothing in my argument belies a “win at all costs” morality. I care nothing for morality when it comes to college football. I’m trying to eject morality from the equation altogether.

        It was the Arkansas AD who made a decision to fire Petrino under the cover of morality, to the earnest satisfaction of a fan base who suddenly disapproved of Petrino for moral reasons, despite the fact that Petrino was the winningest coach since Holtz, and the only point of college football is to win. I don’t pretend or claim to be evolved in my thinking. I just claim to be beyond letting any pretense of morality cloud my good judgement. College football is a 4 billion dollar a year industry. It’s not about developing student athletes, that train left the station long ago (but if that’s what you’re looking for, you can still find it at a track meet or a lacrosse match).

        Bielema makes $10,959.00 a day, 365 days a year. More money in one week than most of us will make in a year. He has a singular
        imperative in his role as a lavishly compensated coach–to win games. It’s the only reason the university pays him such an obscene sum. When he fails, we as fans have every right to call for his head.

        So Petrino. Did I like Petrino as a human being? No. Do I care if the coach is a likable person? No. Do I even care if the players are likeable people? No not really. From the football players I knew in high school I can say I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with any of the Razorbacks, even though I greatly admire their athletic skill on the field. When I sit down to watch my 4 million dollar coach put his team up against another, I only care if they win. I am happy to accept a loss when the team puts up a noble fight, but Bielema’s teams almost never do that. They either win, or they collapse spectacularly, almost as if they don’t even HAVE a coach!

        So Petrino was kind of a jerk. So what? Was he “the answer”? I don’t know. But I seem to remember a Petrino team that went two years in a row with 10 wins and 11 wins. A Sugar Bowl and a Cotton Bowl, and finishing #12, and then #5 nationally. The only other Arkansas coaches who ever finished better were Holtz (just once, at #3) and Broyles (two 2’s and a 3). Anyway, it’s a moot point now. Petrino’s gone, we fired him. He’s off winning somewhere else and it is what it is. The question now is how long are we going to stick with Beilema and his dysfunctional shtick?

        • NielsBoar

          “I care nothing for morality when it comes to college football. I’m trying to eject morality from the equation altogether.” I interpret that as win at all costs. I wouldn’t fault you for that position, but I do find fault in your position that folks who had a problem with Petrino’s actions somehow lack sophistication and are “backwater.” The tone of your original post hit me wrong. I’m over it – truce.

  • GolfHog

    You get what you coach. But enough on Bielema. he has finally been exposed to all as nothing but a self promoter, all hat, no cattle.
    The question now becomes, What does that really, finally, tell us about Jeff Long?
    Salesman? promoter? politician? success? All hat and no cattle.
    He wasted $30 mil on Beliema. and is now underway with $160 mil on a big donor’s party palace and executive offices for he and his staff where they sell liquor indoors to the well healed while they frisk the fans at the gate to make sure they don’t have a flask.
    John Pelphry, BMFP, John L., Bert Bielema, $200 mil down the drain.
    Can we really afford more of Jeff Long?

    • OwassoHog

      Add Mike Anderson to this list… 🙁

      • Chickasaw1

        Absolutely!

    • Chickasaw1

      Long is overpaid. Then he raises money out of Razorback fans and turns around and gives a million or so to the University. He raised price of tickets out the yazoo and tore down a perfectly good Broyles building…I think he wants to eradicate UA of the Broyles influence. He needs to be fired.

  • Chickasaw1

    Normally when a team does poorly in the second half, they are not in shape to go the distance. As Lou Holtz once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Even QB seemed to run out of energy. Fatigue makes one make bad decisions, i.e. Morgan and Allan for another. Assuming there are no alcohol and/or drug problems on the team and I do not think there are, fatigue makes sense as to the core problem. Remember it is just a game…no more and no less. I like our head coach.

  • Brian Baer

    I’ve read most of the posts below and I guess I agree with the line of lack of leadership. Remember when we suffered through 10 years of the cheerleader Houston Nutt? He actually had players like McFadden, Jones, etc. and could not win with that level of talent. Watching and listening to Bama nation recently, the highly regarded recruits (4-5 star) are looking for the program that will best help them get to and succeed in the NFL. It’s all about money and the future beyond college ball. Remember Rudy with Notre Dame? Players do not play with heart like that or do what it takes just to be a part of the team and do whatever it takes to win. Those days are gone my friends.
    So, can CBB recruit the level of talent by convincing them that U of A is their best option to make it to the pros? Can his smashmouth brand of football hold up to cutting edge defenses that have smaller linemen that can out run, out maneuver OL and stretch sideline to sideline? Nope. A 6-10 tackle is really no match for the modern day Miles Garretts or Jonathon Allens of the SEC west.
    Solution? Not sure. CBB style is outdated in todays game.
    I do agree with Chickasaw…our players have been fatigued all year. There is little leadership within the team. I heard that the Bama players will come down hard on each other when they are not going hard enough in practice. This kind of self-policing is missing from the Hogs and the character and integrity is sorely lacking. The latter comes from the coaching leadership.
    Everyone likes CBB in press conferences and they love media days with him, etc. But, that does not win games and will not win prized talent. If CBB goes, then what?

  • GolfHog

    No one said the “sky is falling”. What has been said is that a mediocre hire was given too much time and too much money and besides 4 mediocre years lost we are stuck with two more. The ‘sky’ is grey and will continue to be so.
    The real question appears to be, is the Arkansas culture so dysfunctional that we really cannot hire a decent Coach or AD.

  • Houston Hog

    OMG! I’M still speechless about that 2nd half. I hope next year’s team has more of that traditional Razorback toughness.

  • hognaustin

    Why did the Football team show up in the second half of that Kentucky game this past weekend?