21 Jan

Hogs are Better In SEC Road Games Than At Home. How Rare Is That?

moses kingsley

A troika of seniors also led the last Razorback team to start conference playing better on the road than at home.

 

The ’98-’99 team had a rough SEC home start, but a helluva finish.

Road struggles have defined the Razorback basketball program through much of the 21st century. In the glory years of the late 1970s through mid 1990s, the Hogs were nearly invincible at home while winning their fair share of road games. In the 21st century, they have still been one of the SEC’s most dominant home teams but constant road woes have often sunk them into mediocrity.

This year, though, these 21st century trends are changing, for better and worse.

First, the good news for Hog fans: Their team has begun winning road games at a rate similar to that of the 1990s Nolan Richardson-led teams. Since 2014, Arkansas is 11-10 on the road in SEC play. Arkansas had gone 16-81 in the previous dozen seasons before that.

The problem: In the last two years, the program has been anything but invincible at home.

The result is a strange inversion of the Razorback’s usual 21st century mojo: This 2016-17 team has lost two of its first three SEC home games, while winning two of its first three SEC road games.

That’s very unusual.

Indeed, in the last 69 years*, only one other Razorback team has gotten off to a better start on the road than at home in the first six conference games of the season. That team, the 1998-99 Hogs, spent most of that season ranked in the Top 25 (no higher than No.18).

Those Hogs won their first SEC contest of the season — a road game — against LSU 80-75. It then lost on the road to Auburn, then ranked No. 14, 83-66.

Here’s how its next four games panned out:

(Home) Ole Miss, L 76-65

(Away) Mississippi State W 61-59

(Home) Georgia, W 82-79

(Home) Alabama, L 67-60

Those Hogs were stocked with All-SEC caliber seniors in Pat Bradley, Derek Hood and Kareem Reid. Their experience and tenacity was critical to allowing the squad to squeak out those road victories. This Hogs team also showcases three important seniors: Dusty Hannahs, Moses Kingsley and Manny Watkins.

Hannahs and Bradley fulfill similar roles on their respective teams, as do Hood and Kingsley. But nobody on the team has been able to harass opposing point guards, while consistently staying in front of them, like the ultra-quick Kareem Reid.  These Hogs’ inability to contain quick guards killed them in home losses against Florida and Mississippi State, and in the second half against Kentucky.

Former Razorback Blake Eddins, who began playing under Nolan Richardson in 1999-2000, recently joked this year’s team needs “a couple of defensive stoppers like Pat Bradley and Blake Eddins in there, to really bend their knees and get that butt down and show them how to play defense.”

“I’ll say this: I would have clotheslined a guy if he had a wide-open fast break layup. And that’s about all I was good for,” Eddins told Pat Bradley, now a sports radio co-host, on 103.7 The Buzz FM.

It’s difficult to imagine Dusty Hannahs — or newcomers Daryl Macon or Jaylen Barford — playing with this kind of Charles Oakleyeque defensive tenacity. But Barford and Macon do have the needed quickness to become much more effective one-on-one defenders, while Watkins and Anton Beard, though not as quick, have long flashed Kareem Reid/Corey Beck-like defensive effort.

It’s just a matter of putting it together in longer stretches, and specifically against the SEC’s best point guards.

That 1998-99 team ended with a fantastic home stand, beating No. 6 Kentucky and No. 2 Auburn in its final two SEC home games. It later made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Manny Watkins knows this is the last chance for he, Kingsley and Hannahs to make a similar statement.

“It’s our last year,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “The sense of urgency is through the roof. In order to win, you’ve got to do things and it has to be from your seniors.”


*Only one team during the Razorbacks’ SWC days won at least two of its first three road conference games while losing at least two of its first three home conference games. That would be the ’48-’49 Hogs, which ultimately finished 9-3 in conference as SWC champs.

** Arkansas isn’t the only SEC team struggling at home this season. Through January 20, SEC teams are a combined 18-21 in home SEC games . (h/t to Blake Eddins)

african-american arkansans

Includes how NLR native Eddie Miles almost became the first black Razorback in basketball 

29 Dec

James Shibest: “I can remember how chunky ol’ Austin was when he was young”

James Shibest

The Virginia Tech special teams coach recalls meeting Austin Allen while coaching at Arkansas

James Shibest and Bobby Allen are at the center of Razorbacks-Hokies football coaching cross-pollination. Allen, a former Virginia Tech player, has been on the Arkansas staff for nearly 20 years. Shibest, meanwhile, is a former Razorback player and coach. He’s in his first year at Virginia Tech, coaching special teams and tight ends for Hokies coach Justin Fuente.

They will both be on the sidelines for today’s Belk Bowl, in which Arkansas is a touchdown underdog to Virginia Tech according to the latest betting odds.

Shibest, who coached at Arkansas 2000-07, yesterday recalled Allen training his two sons in and around Razorback Stadium. Those boys, Brandon Allen and Austin Allen, have combined to hold the Hogs’ starting quarterback job for the last four years.

“Almost every free minute he had he was working with them boys and obviously that worked,” Shibest told sports show host Bo Mattingly and sportswriter Clay Henry on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. “Whether it be football, baseball, whatever it was, has paid off. God I’m just so happy for them guys. I used to remember how chunky ol’ Austin was when he was young… He’s an unbelievable competitor, let me tell you. I know all the Hog fans know that boy but I’ll tell you what, he is a good player.”

Here are some more choice excerpts from their conversation:

Bo Mattingly: … What was that period of your life like when you  left Arkansas when coach Nutt took the job at Ole Miss? Then when it didn’t work out at Ole Miss, you had some stuff to figure out…

James Shibest: No doubt. I have really been unbelievably blessed. Ever since I’ve gotten to this level I was very fortunate. I came from junior college and coach [Houston] Nutt hired me. God what an awesome person to work for and learn from. You love your alma mater so much, you want to stay there. It was tough.

Then when we went to Ole Miss went ahead but you got to go feed the family. Really the first time I really ever had to look for a job is when I got connected with coach Fuente at Memphis there. It didn’t take long, it was a couple of weeks. It wasn’t like I had to sit out a year. It’s a tough road a lot of times in this profession. I’ve been extremely lucky. Always having to be at a great place and then with great people to work for.

On coaching junior college football:

James Shibest: Let me tell you it was really a great training. First of all you learn how to go be a coach. Them guys kind of were on their second chance especially the Division I type guys through academics or various reasons. They needed you more. I don’t know if I’ve ever been closer to my players more than in junior college. It was obviously a little bit smaller but them guys really needed your help. There was some deep, deep satisfaction when you could get them to that … back to division one or whatever, to that next institution.

Clay Henry: I’ve written stories about the Arkansas wide receivers of late and I keep pulling up these top 10 lists. I keep finding you in there —

James Shibest: Didn’t do much as a freshman and then, of course, it was a little nerve wracking there. I came in with hopes and Coach [Ken] Hatfield was … Of course all you heard was the Flexbone. I didn’t really know what that was as far as being a receiver, how I would fit in that. It’s amazing how it turned out to be a great blessing. Them safeties have to play the dang triple option in there, and I was out there by myself one on one most of the time and-

Clay Henry: You ran those crossing routes. It’d take a little while. The safety would clear than then ere came Shibest, about eight seconds later.

James Shibest: All right now, I was a lot faster than what y’all say I was.

Clay Henry: Okay, sorry, sorry.

James Shibest: [Laughs] It was pretty cool. You know Brad [Taylor] was still there so we kind of had to throw the ball that first year and end up having a pretty good year. It all worked out just like the way it should have.

The Shibest File
Experience: 27th season, 1st at Virginia Tech
Hometown: Houston, Texas
High School: MacArthur
College: Arkansas (1987)
Playing Exp: Arkansas (1983-87)
Family: Wife – Dianna; Son – James John III, Daughter – Jordyn Grace

Coaching History

Year School Position
2016 Virginia Tech Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
2012-15 Memphis Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
2008-11 Ole Miss Special Teams Coordinator
2006-07 Arkansas Special Teams/Tight Ends
2002-05 Arkansas Special Teams/Wide Receivers
2000-01 Arkansas Special Teams/Tight Ends
1996-99 Butler County CC (Kan.) Head Coach
1994-95 Garden City CC (Kan.) Offensive Coordinator/QBs/WRs
1993 Independence CC (Kan.) Defensive Backs
1992 Independence CC (Kan.) Offensive Coordinator
1990-91 Oklahoma State Graduate Assistant
19 Dec

Bill Raftery Compares Malik Monk to Michael Jordan, Jerry West

Malik Monk jumper

During Monk’s 47-point detonation, the longtime CBS announcer didn’t hold back with the praise

 

At the start of the 2016-17 season, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman assessed Kentucky freshman Malik Monk’s NBA potential. Names like “J.R. Smith” and “Monta Ellis” were thrown out. In the comments, someone chimed in with “DeMar DeRozan” as Monk’s ceiling. Someone else agreed that’s a very good apex.

That ceiling may need to be raised a floor or two after Saturday. At night, in front of a national television audience,  Malik Monk scored 47 points in a thriller against North Carolina. The 6-3 shooting  guard produced the impressive shooting performance from an Arkansas native on a collegiate stage this big that I can recall:

 

 

If anybody thought Monk’s scoring ability or skill was overrated, this performance puts those doubts to bed. He is simply the most talented/electrifying scorer Arkansas has ever produced, and could overtake Joe Johnson as the most skilled. During the game, longtime CBS color commentator Bill Raftery, 73 years old and a college coach in the late 1960s through early 1980s – compared Monk’s first step to that of  Michael Jordan’s. (It’s very likely M.J. has watched this UNC-UK game. I’m sure the Tarheel was disappointed in the ending, but he was probably also glad to see Malik Monk — who was affiliated with Nike throughout the summer circuit — develop as a potential Jumpman representative in the future.)

Raftery also made a point of comparing Monk to the most skilled 6-2/6-3 scorer to ever play in the NBA: Jerry West. Specifically, he said Monk’s ability to “get those puppies aligned*” (i.e. his footwork on the jump shot)  reminded him of West’s.

This comparison is important to keep in mind when assessing where Monk will be drafted. He is only 6-3 and only has a wingspan just short of 6-4, and yes, that is short for a pure  shooting guard. Monk, though, projects to become a combo guard years down the line, in the mold of a Russell Westbrook or C.J. McCollum. Almost all all-time players are “combo” in the sense that their skills exploit  personnel mismatches, even if those mismatches come in the form of bigger, taller players.  Given up a few inches in height and arm span isn’t a death wish if the player is talented/skilled/driven enough to not only push through that deficit, but dominate despite of it.

Hakeem Olajuwon, at just over 6-9, is a case in point. He never seemed undersized against the giants of his day, though, because he almost always had the advantage in every other intangible and tangible you would want. Same goes with Steph Curry today at 6-2/6-3, who often has a strength and foot speed disadvantage. While in the 1960s, Curry’s height was more in line with the standard for a shooting guard, Jerry West still would have been a dominant scorer even if had he been a couple inches shorter.

In the pros, Malik Monk can do the same even as an undersized “scoring” guard.

His 47-point first-semester magnum opus hints at that more strongly than anything else. NBA executives are taking notice. In the last few weeks, Monk has more often appeared as a projected pick in the upper half of the 2017 NBA lottery. And, after the UNC win, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported an NBA executive can see him going No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.**

 

*Credit to Marcus Monk, Malik’s older brother, for so consistently drilling him on the fundamentals over these last few years. 

**Monk would be the third Arkansan to be selected No. 1 overall in an NBA Draft. 

 

 

05 Jan

Dan Enos’ Michigan State Teams Completed a Helluva Threepeat

The 2015 Arkansas Razorbacks have a chance to become one of the few teams in college football history to win only two or fewer games in their first six games and yet finish the season ranked. Below are the teams which have accomplished this kind of specific mid-season turnaround, according to a database query by sports-reference.com.

Notice that heading into the 2015 season Michigan State was the only program to pull it off in consecutive seasons. It should be added that in 1988 the team was a season-ending bowl game win away from also completing this same exact turnaround.  All the same, all three teams still completed the ole’-win-two-or-fewer-in-the-first-six-but-win-six-or-more-in-the-last-seven trick.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos was a Michigan State quarterback throughout this entire three-peat. I write more about the connection, with insight from his Spartan head coach and teammate, in an upcoming piece for OnlyInArk.com.

+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+

| school                           | year       | wins | losses | ties | final rank |
+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+
| texas-christian           |    1937 |    1 |      3 |    2 |   16 |
| holy-cross                    |    1942 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| stanford                        |    1942 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   12 |
| duke                               |    1944 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   11 |
| saint-marys-ca-pre-flight |    1944 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   19 |
| rice                                  |    1947 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   18 |
| michigan                      |    1950 |    2 |      3 |    1 |    9 |
| navy                               |    1950 |    1 |      5 |    0 |   19 |
| purdue                          |    1951 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   14 |
| kentucky                      |    1952 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   20 |
| alabama                       |    1953 |    2 |      1 |    3 |   13 |
| rice                                  |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   18 |
| stanford                        |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   16 |
| iowa                                |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| florida                            |    1958 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   14 |
| purdue                           |    1960 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| illinois                            |    1962 |    1 |      5 |    0 |   18 |
| penn-state                   |    1964 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   14 |
| southern-california   |    1971 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   20 |
| florida                             |    1973 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   19 |
| michigan-state            |    1974 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   12 |
| tennessee                      |    1974 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   20 |
| ucla                                  |    1983 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   17 |
| michigan-state            |    1989 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   16 |
| michigan-state            |    1990 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   16 |
| syracuse                           |    1990 |    2 |      2 |    2 |   21 |
| vanderbilt                        |    2012 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   23 |
+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+
03 Jan

Brandon Allen, Bret Bielema & Sebastian Tretola Yuk It Up in Post Liberty Bowl Press Conference

Spirits were running high at the press conference following Arkansas’ 45 to 23 victory over Kansas State in Saturday’s Liberty Bowl. That much was evident from a question that normally wouldn’t elicit anything close to humor.

A few minutes in, reporters asked about the health of Razorback junior Dominique Reed, who suffered a head injury in the second quarter which looked very scary. The Camden native was immobilized and carted off the field.

Bret Bielema: I probably was a little bit oblivious, because when I went out there he was moving his arms, he was moving around. But he got knocked out, he was as out as out gets. That part was there. They just did an unbelievable job of precautions, in that situation didn’t get the right responses.

But he was in the locker room with us. He’s got a heckuva headache probably but he’s alive and well.

[He was] walking, talking – he smiled, he smiled at me. [pause, grins] Sometimes Dominique gives you a delayed response anyway so you just kind of got to get used to it.

Here are more excerpts from the press conference:

On new “Chrome Cardinal” helmets

Alex Collins: I just believe it gives you an extra edge. You know, look good, play good. We were out there feeling good, everybody’s watching, we got this chrome – it’s just a good feeling. I like it. I wish we could’ve done it a few more times this season.

Bret Bielema: I actually designed a helmet with that kind of color back when I was at my old school. When I left to come to Arkansas, and they didn’t let me coach in the Rose Bowl I took the helmet with me. [grins] So that design had been there for a while.

Sebastian Tretola: I was a little nervous about the helmets because the last time we tried tried to change up the uniform we lost three games so… [grins]
But, you know, it worked out. We won the game. They were awesome obviously and [pause] swagggyyy?

[looks at Bielema, laughing]

On Dan Enos:

Bret Bielema: He’s been an unbelievable godsend. He so well organized, detailed, planned. His relationship skills – it just makes it more fun environment and I’ve ever endured as a coach…

There’s kind of an ongoing saga. Every day then Skipper finds a new picture of Dan Enos on the Internet that kind of just makes him look worse and worse. And every day Matt, just really angry with his little glasses on. I saw one clear back from the high school days just the other day.

And then he tries to retaliate on the o-line. I don’t know how to stay neutral out of the whole thing.

He brings a lot to the table that has nothing to do with winning games, and he brings a lot to the table that has to do with winning games. He’s just so dialed in. Once him and BA got comfortable with what his skill set is, what he could handle and what he could do over the course of the game it’s been a skyrocket ship. It’s been off the charts.

Alex Collins on this touchdown run:

I was very determined. We wanted to put the game away and us scoring on that drive was what kind of put us over. Just seeing everybody’s faces and determination on that play made me feel like I had to to do my part and get this touchdown. I just fought hard to score for the team.

What Alex Collins has meant to the team

Brandon Allen: Alex ran hard all day. You’ve got to give credit to the guys who were blocking for him… He was breaking tackles, never going down, just really running hard on every single play. He really carried us in the second half and is definitely deserving of that [offensive] MVP.

Sebastian Tretola: The kid is unbelievable. He runs angry, he runs mad, the legs never stop and that and I think that adds to our mentality. The o-linemen keep going. Even if you miss your block, he might make that guy miss, so you better keep running because you might help him 20, 30 yards down the field.

Josh Liddell: As these guys said, watching Alex Collins run is unbelievable. As defensive guys we see him running out there, breaking tackles in fighting for every extra yard. That just fires us up and gets us pumped up and ready to play and play defense. It’s really fun to watch Alex run.

Alex: I feel honored. If you asked me the same thing, I would say the same thing about those guys. I would say those guys had a great game. I don’t like taking credit for anything because without the other 10 guys on the field I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything.

The o-line did a great job blocking for me, the tight ends as well, so I don’t take credit for anything. The seniors did a good job of motivating us and getting us ready to go. Sebastian does a great job every game…

Brett Bielema: Alex is playing as good a football as he’s ever played since being here. It’s been a steady crescendo in our program, and that’s what you should do. You should get better every day, every week, every year.

The part of his game that’s really improved this year is his overall toughness, his durability. I think Brandon Allen and some of the offensive players would tell you he’s really put it on the line a couple times for them in the pass protection which sometimes running backs don’t do.

He really drew closer to our team this year. He’s a really bright, engaging young man. This year he really took more of an ownership in the team than he ever had before, and it’s been awesome. He comes back with us next year, you’re probably looking at a Heisman candidate.

He could go down as not only one of the best players in Arkansas history but could be the first player in the SEC to run for at least 1000 yards and four straight years. If he goes on, the NFL’s gonna get a very good football player with a lot of growth and opportunity in front of him. I’m just blessed to have three years with him already.


 

Want more on Collins’ impending pro decision, why Jonathan Williams got back into the game and why Bielema thinks people still don’t give the SEC West enough credit? Get all that and the rest of the transcription from the press conference by signing up for my newsletter below:


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31 Dec

Historically, Arkansas Is Quite The High Volume Bowl Game Loser

As you can see below, Arkansas football is in the top 15 all-time when it comes to bowl game appearances, but far, far down the list (at No. 62) when it comes to winning percentage.

Major College Programs By # Of Bowl Games Played Before December 29, 2015

Team Bowls Won Lost Tied Winning % Bowls Played # of Back-to-Backs Times Won At Least 2 Bowl Games in Consecutive Years
1 Alabama 35 24 3 56.5% 62 8
2 Texas 27 24 2 50.9% 53 8
3 USC 34 17 66.7% 51 8
4 Tennessee 26 24 52.0% 50 5
5 Nebraska 24 26 48.0% 50 6
6 Georgia 28 19 3 56.0% 50 9
7 Oklahoma 28 19 1 58.3% 48 8
8 LSU 23 22 1 50.0% 46 6
9 Penn State 28 15 2 62.2% 45 7
10 Ohio State 21 23 47.7% 44 4
11 Michigan 20 23 46.5% 43 4
12 Florida State 25 15 2 59.5% 42 3
13 Florida 21 20 51.2% 41 4
14 Arkansas 14 23 3 35.0% 40 0
15 Auburn 22 15 2 56.4% 39 6

Major College Programs By Bowl Game Winning Percentage (as of December 29, 2015)

Team Bowls Won Lost Tied Win% Bowls Played “Back to Backs” Longest Bowl Wins Streak In Consecutive Years
1 Utah 14 4 77.8% 18 2 7
2 USC 34 17 66.7% 51 8 6
3 Rutgers 6 3 66.7% 9 1 4
4 Oklahoma State 16 9 64.0% 25 5 3
5 Mississippi 23 13 63.9% 36 6 4
6 Penn State 28 15 2 62.2% 45 7 5
7 Syracuse 15 9 1 60.0% 25 3 6
8 Oregon State 9 6 60.0% 15 2 3
9 Wake Forest 6 4 60.0% 10 1 2
10 Army 3 2 60.0% 5 1 2
11 Florida State 25 15 2 59.5% 42 3 11
12 Oklahoma 28 19 1 58.3% 48 8 4
13 Vanderbilt 4 2 1 57.1% 7 1 2
14 Alabama 35 24 3 56.5% 62 8 6
15 Auburn 22 15 2 56.4% 39 6 3
16 Georgia 28 19 3 56.0% 50 9 4
17 Mississippi State 10 8 55.6% 18 2 2
18 Boston College 13 11 54.2% 24 2 8
19 North Carolina State 15 12 1 53.6% 28 4 3
20 Kentucky 8 7 53.3% 15 1 3
21 Purdue 9 8 52.9% 17 2 3
22 Tennessee 26 24 52.0% 50 5 3
23 Texas Tech 14 12 1 51.9% 27 4 3
24 Miami (Florida) 18 17 51.4% 35 3 5
25 Florida 21 20 51.2% 41 4 4
26 Texas 27 24 2 50.9% 53 8 5
27 LSU 23 22 1 50.0% 46 6 4
28 Clemson 18 18 50.0% 36 2 5
29 Arizona State 14 13 1 50.0% 28 3 4
30 Iowa 14 13 1 50.0% 28 4 3
31 Stanford 12 11 1 50.0% 24 5 2
32 Kansas 6 6 50.0% 12 1 2
33 Washington State 5 5 50.0% 10 0 0
34 Washington 16 16 1 48.5% 33 4 3
35 Notre Dame 16 17 48.5% 33 5 3
36 Missouri 15 16 48.4% 31 3 2
37 Nebraska 24 26 48.0% 50 6 6
38 Ohio State 21 23 47.7% 44 4 5
39 Baylor 10 11 47.6% 21 2 2
40 California 10 10 1 47.6% 21 2 4
41 Texas A&M 17 19 47.2% 36 2 4
42 UCLA 16 17 1 47.1% 34 2 7
43 TCU 14 15 1 46.7% 30 4 4
44 Michigan 20 23 46.5% 43 4 4
45 Wisconsin 12 14 46.2% 26 2 3
46 North Carolina 14 17 45.2% 31 2 4
47 Illinois 8 10 44.4% 18 1 2
48 Louisville 8 9 1 44.4% 18 1 2
49 Arizona 8 9 1 44.4% 18 2 2
50 Colorado 12 16 42.9% 28 2 4
51 Oregon 12 16 42.9% 28 3 4
52 West Virginia 14 19 42.4% 33 2 4
53 Georgia Tech 14 19 42.4% 33 5 6
54 Maryland 11 13 2 42.3% 26 2 2
55 Pittsburgh 13 18 41.9% 31 4 3
56 Michigan State 10 14 41.7% 24 2 4
57 South Carolina 8 12 40.0% 20 2 4
58 BYU 13 19 1 39.4% 33 4 4
59 Virginia Tech 11 17 39.3% 28 2 2
60 Kansas State 7 11 38.9% 18 1 2
61 Virginia 7 11 38.9% 18 2 2
62 Arkansas 14 23 3 35.0% 40 0 0
63 Indiana 3 6 33.3% 9 0 0
64 Minnesota 5 12 29.4% 17 1 3
65 Duke 3 8 27.3% 11 0 0
66 Iowa State 3 9 25.0% 12 0 0
67 Northwestern 2 9 18.2% 11 0 0

Arkansas’ overall losing percentage has led to one of the most unusual and unlikely stats in college football history: the program has never won “back-to-back” bowl games, or at least two bowls games in consecutive years despite the high number of games it has played.

As you can see in the chart based on sports-reference.com stats above, no other program which has played at least 40 programs has less than three such back-to-backs (i.e. Florida State).

Of course, on January 2, 2016, Arkansas has a chance to finally break this streak while continuing to steadily up its overall bowl winning percentage under head coach Bret Bielema. I write more about that in an upcoming piece to which I’ll soon link.


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27 Nov

Brandon Allen’s Hot Streak Matched By Only Six Quarterbacks Since 2001

Not many Power 5 quarterbacks have thrown for at least 14 touchdowns and 950 yards with a QB rating of at least 190 in a three-game stretch since 2000. As you can see by the numbers in the parentheses  below, half of them have done their damage in their team’s first four games when powder puffs are more likely to be played. The other half have achieved this feat in the more difficult middle or last parts of the season:

QB Year School Completions Attempts % Yards TD Int Rating
Seth Russell ( Gms 1-3) 2015 Baylor 50 80 62.5 995 15 4 218.9
Sam Bradford (2-4) 2008 Oklahoma 66 93 71 1110 14 2 216.6
Geno Smith (2-4) 2012 West Virginia 109 133 82 1405 16 0 210.4
Jared Goff (2-4) 2014 California 59 94 62.8 1067 14 2 203
Rex Grossman (3-5) 2001 Florida 66 99 66.7 1159 14 1 209.7
Cody Kessler (7-9) 2014 Southern California 64 90 71.1 983 14 1 212
Brandon Allen (9-11) 2015 Arkansas 72 104 69.2 989 14 1 191.6
Josh Fields (10-12) 2002 Oklahoma State 45 68 66.2 954 14 0 252

All stats via sports-reference.com

Josh Fields, who is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of hot-streak QB rating, ended up playing for the Chicago White Sox.


 

Like this kind of unique sportswriting? Get notified of future posts by signing up for my BestOfArkanssasSports.com newsletter:

 

As a bonus, you’ll receive a full breakdown of all Division I quarterbacks to ever achieve this three-game feat.  Six other quarterbacks from “mid-major” programs have also done the deed. As you can imagine, guys like Case Keenum and Colt Brennan rank awfully high…

22 Nov

Mississippi State Player on Hogs Defense: “I thought they was a little better, man.”

Dan Mullen believer

Junior Mississippi State De’Runnya Wilson expected his offense to score on the Razorback defense Saturday night. But 51 points in four quarters? And being one of two receivers tallying 10 catches? Not so much.

“I thought they was a little bit better, man,” Wilson said of the Hogs’ defense after Arkansas lost 51-50 at home. “They really played me really tight.* I’m just happy that the gameplan was to get the ball to the receivers in the open field, throw swings and block the perimeter.”

After a game filled with dramatic scoring swings, the postgame scene in the Mississippi State locker room was a predictably upbeat one. The Bulldogs had just survived one of the greatest duels by opposing quarterbacks in SEC history, with  Dak Prescott and Brandon Allen combining for 969 total yards and 14 total touchdowns.

 

Perssist


 

Emotionally, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen likened the night to jumping out of a plane and “pulling the rip cord four hours later.” He added: “I think it was two of the best quarterbacks in America battling out there on the field today.”

Below are more excerpts from Mullen’s press conference. I’ve boldfaced the more Razorback-related comments:

What a football game. What a football game that was. I tell you what, that was big time ball. Both teams, as impressive of a quarterbacking performance I think as you’re going to see in college football on both sidelines. We talked to our kids about finishing. You know, everything we do from the start of January through off season conditioning, spring training, summer conditioning, training camp all season, it’s about competing. Every time you compete, you finish. You finish and finish and finish. Our strength staff, unbelievable job, having that team ready at this time in the season to go finish a game. Our defense, I told them we need to go get a turnover on that last series. I felt a turnover.  Don’t stop, don’t stop believing.

 

 

Don’t stop fighting for every inch, then it’s going to happen. Even right there at the end, make it a yard longer, make that field goal longer, continue to battle and we found a way to block the kick to get a win. It’s pretty special, pretty special for this team. So proud of our guys. Great football team in that locker room, great football team of guys who care about each other, play hard for each other, and compete in everything that they do.

Read More

03 Nov

Which College Football Programs Perform Best in Overtime?

It’s been nearly 20 years since major college football introduced overtime and stopped deciding games by the oh-so-unAmerican “tie.” Since then, which Power 5 conference programs have historically done the best? It depends on how you look at it. In terms of sheer number of overtime wins, three SEC teams are at the top here – Missouri (12 overtime wins), Tennessee (11 OT wins) and Arkansas (10 OT wins). They all have winning percentages in the 64%-71% range.

But there are five programs which have won at higher rates while playing less OT games:

Name Overtime wins Overtime losses Overtime win %
1 UCLA 8 1 88.89%
2 Michigan 10 2 83.33%
3 Ohio State 7 2 77.78%
4 Nebraska 9 3 75.00%
5 Iowa 6 2 75.00%

So there you go, UCLA and Michigan fans. I’ll let you decide who among you is King of OT.

In the meantime, I want to point out that Hawkeye and Commodore fans should be hanging their heads in shame right now. Their programs have been the worst in OT:

Program Overtime wins Overtime losses Overtime win %
1 Iowa State 3 9 25.00%
2 Vanderbilt 2 5 28.57%
3 Indiana 2 5 28.57%
4 Wake Forest 3 7 30.00%
5 Purdue 4 8 33.33%

Now that we’ve had fun analyzing comprehensive overtime stats, why stop there? Let’s keep the clock ticking by looking at the the best-peforming teams in multi-overtime situations. As I write on SaturdayDownSouth.com, Arkansas takes the cake here:

Program 2 thru 7 OT wins 2 thru 7 OT win % 2 thru 7 OT losses
1 Arkansas 7 87.50% 1
2 Missouri 6 85.71% 1
3 Syracuse 6 60.00% 4
4 California 5 83.33% 1
5 Tennessee 4 57.10% 3
6 Oregon 4 66.67% 2
7 Ohio State 4 100.00% 0
8 Iowa 4 100.00% 0
9 Northwestern 3 60.00% 2
10 Nebraska 3 75.00% 1
11 Pittsburgh 3 33.33% 6
12 TCU 3 60.00% 2
13 West Virginia 3 50.00% 3
14 Minnesota 3 60.00% 2
15 Duke 3 75.00% 1
16 Iowa State 3 50.00% 3
17 Utah 2 66.67% 1
18 Texas A&M 2 50.00% 2
19 Michigan 2 50.00% 2
20 UCLA 2 66.67% 1
21 Washington 2 66.67% 1
22 Washington State 2 66.67% 1
23 Georgia 2 66.67% 1
24 Michigan State 2 40.00% 3
25 Texas Tech 2 100.00% 0
26 Rutgers 2 40.00% 3
27 Boston College 2 66.67% 1
28 Miami 2 66.67% 1
29 Penn State 2 50.00% 2
30 Oklahoma 2 100.00% 0
31 Kansas State 2 66.67% 1
32 Auburn 1 33.33% 2
33 NC State 1 25.00% 3
34 Clemson 1 33.33% 2
35 Virginia Tech 1 25.00% 3
36 Arizona State 1 33.33% 2
37 Notre Dame 1 25.00% 3
38 Baylor 1 33.33% 2
39 Louisville 1 20.00% 4
40 Stanford 1 100.00% 0
41 Maryland 1 100.00% 0
42 Virginia 1 50.00% 1
43 Illinois 1 33.33% 2
44 Wake Forest 1 50.00% 1
45 Kansas 1 25.00% 3
46 Oregon State 1 25.00% 3
47 Kentucky 1 25.00% 3
48 USC 1 16.67% 5
49 Arizona 1 33.33% 2
50 North Carolina 1 50.00% 1
51 Florida 1 100.00% 0
52 Vanderbilt 1 50.00% 1
53 South Carolina 1 100.00% 0
54 Florida State 1 50.00% 1
55 LSU 0 0.00% 2
56 Ole Miss 0 0.00% 2
57 Colorado 0 0.00% 3
58 Alabama 0 0.00% 3
59 Georgia Tech 0 0.00% 1
60 Wisconsin 0 0.00% 1
61 Mississippi State 0 0.00% 1
62 Purdue 0 0.00% 2
63 Oklahoma State 0 0.00% 3
64 Indiana 0 0.00% 3
65 Texas 0 0.00% 0

How about just single overtime performances? That is, who’s toughest when things get clutch but not too clutch? Again, we have SEC teams at the top in LSU (8-4 all-time in single-overtime games) and Auburn (7-5) but also again we see UCLA and Michigan at the top in terms of winning percentage.

UCLA is defeated in six single-overtime games, while Michigan has lost only one in seven.

27 Oct

Glen Rice is No. 2 Among Top 50 NBA Arkansan Scorers Ever

Having grown up in Little Rock, AR as a hardcore basketball fan, I have always enjoyed finding out about about the different connections NBA/ABA players have with my state. That process of discovery is a gradual one. I remember standing inside the Dunbar Community Center in downtown Little Rock (by the junior high Joe Johnson attended) and marveling that the place had been a stomping grounds for an NBA No. 4 overall pick most Arkansas basketball fans have never heard of.

I’ve long praised the greatest dunkers* in Arkansas history, but only yesterday learned about a high flying  UAPB alum whose nickname was “Helicopter.” That would be the 6’5″ Charles Hentz, who fittingly enough played for the ABA’s Pittsburgh Condors. In November 1970 game, he did something no ABA/NBA baller had or ever will do again.

I’ll let eyewitness Ken Marsh explain:

“Charlie Hentz quickly drove to the basket, soared, and threw down a vicious one-hand dunk, shattering the backboard. It happened so quickly it Peeplestook everyone’s breath away. The sound was akin to a shotgun blast when the rim gave way and the glass exploded. A Cougars forward named George
Peeples was trying to get the shards of glass out of his Afro.”

An hour later, with the demolished glass backboard now replaced by a wooden one,  the game resumed. But near the end of the game, after the teams had switched side, Hentz found another open path and released his fury.

“The crowd was absolutely stunned that Hentz had destroyed a second glass backboard on top of the first one,” Marsh told RememberTheABA.com. “The refs, the Carolina coach, and the Pittsburgh coach Pittsburgh then conferred about what they should do. Pittsburgh was down by about 14 points at the time of Hentz’s second “demolition,” so their coach graciously decided to call the game.”

That’s rich, right?

Here’s some more gold-encrusted factoid:  Shawn Marion, as in the Matrix Shawn Marion who was a four-time All Star, is listed as growing up in Clarksville, Tennessee. But it turns out he spent a significant time with relatives in the Dermott, Arkansas area and apparently played some junior high basketball there.

And then there’s the absolute motherlode of NBA Arkansan esoterica, which was unearthed in Saline County about a month ago. It turns out Glen Rice is actually from Arkansas. Yep, just another three-time NBA All-Star and NCAA Tournament MVP who everybody assumed was from Michigan (because all official records state him as being from Flint, Michigan) but actually grew up in Benton until the age of nine or so.

Rice is already known as one of the many stars to come out of Flint, my friend Nate Olson wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. “Now, he wants to be grouped with Arkansas NBA standouts Sidney Moncrief, Scottie Pippen and Derek Fisher, his Lakers teammate.”

Well, well. I’m glad I know Rice’s true origin because his inclusion has a significantly effect on my latest  edition of all-time, NBA Arkansans. By “Arkansan,” I mean someone who was either born in the state or played here in college. That’s why you will see Rice mixed with Lee Mayberry (a Tulsa native, but Razorback star) below:

NBA Arkansans Career Points Leaders

Player Points Points Per Game Years in NBA Birthplace
1 Scottie Pippen 18940 16.1 17 Hamburg
2 Glen Rice 18336 18.3 15 Jacksonville
3 Joe Johnson 18326 17.3 14 Little Rock
4 Joe Barry Carroll 12455 17.7 10 Pine Bluff
5 Sidney Moncrief 11931 15.6 11 Little Rock
6 Archie Clark 11819 16.3 10 Conway
7 Paul Silas 11782 9.4 16 Prescott
8 Alvin Robertson 10882 14 10 Barberton, OH
9 Derek Fisher 10713 8.3 18 Little Rock
10 Fat Lever 10433 13.9 11 Pine Bluff
11 Caldwell Jones 10241 7.9 17 McGehee
12 Corliss Williamson 9147 11.1 12 Russellville
13 Wil Jones 8482 11.7 9 McGehee
14 Michael Cage 8278 7.3 15 West Memphis
15 Eddie Miles 8120 13.4 9 North Little Rock
16 Mike Conley 7778 13.4 8 Fayetteville
17 Darrell Walker 6389 8.9 10 Chicago
18 Ron Brewer 5971 11.9 8 Fort Smith
19 Todd Day 5917 12.3 8 Decatur, Ill
20 Nathaniel Clifton* 5444 10 8 Little Rock
21 Bryant Reeves 4945 12.5 6 Fort Smith
22 Joe Kleine 4666 4.8 15 Colorado Springs, CO
23 Andrew Lang 4431 6 12 Pine Bluff
24 Jim McElroy 4120 9.9 7 Cotton Plant
25 Jim Barnes 3997 8.8 7 Tuckerman
26 Ronnie Brewer 3940 7.8 8 Portland, OR
27 Oliver Miller 3625 7.4 9 Fort Worth
28 Fred Jones 3206 7.5 7 Malvern
29 Jannero Pargo 3175 6.4 11 Chicago
30 Lee Mayberry 2546 5.1 7 Tulsa
31 Tony Brown 2163 6 7 Chicago
32 Charles Jones 1826 2.5 15 McGehee
33 Pete Myers 1804 4.8 9 Mobile, AL
34 Scott Hastings 1647 2.8 11 Independence, KS
35 Major Jones 1643 4.4 6 McGhee
36 Patrick Beverley 1369 8.9 3 Chicago
37 James Anderson 1243 6.3 4 El Dorado
38 Keith Lee 1114 6.1 3 West Memphis
39 Sonny Weems 1082 7.7 3 West Memphis
40 Jeff Martin 956 6.7 2 Cherry Valley
41 Jeremy Evans 806 3.7 5 Crossett
42 Quincy Lewis 567 3.6 4 Little Rock
43 Bob Burrow 459 5.7 2 Malvern
44 Archie Goodwin 425 4.6 2 Little Rock
45 Dean Tolson 402 5 3 Kansas City, MO
46 Jasper Wilson 366 5.2 2 Camden
47 Jimmy Oliver 331 4.2 5 Menifee
48 Jeff Taylor 179 3.2 2 Blytheville
49 Mel McGaha 176 3.5 1 Bastrop, LA
50 Cory Carr 171 4.1 1 Fordyce

NB: This is “only” the top 50 of the 70 NBA Arkansans I have in my database. In the coming weeks, I’ll be release more of these for different categories, so stay tuned. Sign up for my newsletter and you can make sure to get them.

* Speaking of great dunkers from the state, Bentonville High senior Malik Monk makes a strong case as the best of the best. Here’s a pic of him and LeBron James, courtesy of the Arkansas Wings’ Ron Crawford.

malik monk and lebron james

A current superstar by a future one?