18 Sep

Why Bobby Petrino’s Departure is Ultimately Good News for the Razorbacks

For Arkansas to beat college football’s big boys, it needs a coach who can attract and sign high school football’s big boys. Courtesy: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

With 2:50 left in the first quarter, Arkansas trailed Alabama 7-0 on Saturday. On third down, freshman quarterback Brandon Allen threw a pass to Brandon Mitchell near mid field, but the ball bounced off Mitchell’s hands and appeared to be picked off by Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner, who ran it back to the Arkansas three yard line.It wasn’t clear if Milliner had actually intercepted the pass. CBS replays showed the deflected ball wobbling and falling down, down close to the turf, before going up again, scooped up into Milliner’s arms.

The question: Did it hit ground first? At any point, did it bounce back?

Yes, it turned out.

The Razorbacks, though, could be falling for a while.

There were too many loose ends in Arkansas’ 52-0 loss in Fayetteville. Not even a healthy quarterback, cornerback and fullbacks would have tied them.

The game still had not slipped out of grasp in the early second quarter when, down 10-0, from Alabama 42 yard line Allen misread the Alabama defense and forced a deep pass over the middle to tight end Chris Gragg. Safety Vinnie Sunseri – with such a name, I’d expect him to play for Rutgers, the New Jersey school Arkansas plays next – intercepted the ball and returned it 13 yards. Allen, making his first start, could have made the far more simple throw to an open Knile Davis, who would have run it to near the first down marker.

It’s likely Tyler Wilson, Arkansas’ injured star quarterback, would have made the safe throw.

On a pass attempt on the next Arkansas drive, Allen stayed in the pocket a couple beats longer than he should have. He was sacked for an eight-yard loss, pushing the Hogs back to their own 20-yard line and killing the drive.It’s likely Wilson would have gotten rid of the ball quicker.

This isn’t a jeremiad on Arkansas’ unseasoned quarterbacks, who have done about as well as can be expected, all things considered. They had nothing to do with the spotty special teams play. They weren’t going to stop a 6-4, 320-pound Australian defensive lineman named Jesse Williams from putting the entire Hogs’ offensive line on the barbie. They weren’t the ones unable to get around the three preseason All-Americans on Alabama’s offensive line, or wrap up bruising tailback Eddie Lacy behind the lines.

Wilson would not have helped in these departments.

If Arkansas’ entire roster is healthy, it’s good enough to beat the Rutgers, Ole Misses and Auburns of the world – even if the coaching is much worse than it was last season, before Bobby Petrino’s attempted career immolation. Even with Petrino as coach, though, the gap between Arkansas and national front-runners Alabama and LSU was obvious.
05 Dec

In ESPN analysis of Arkansas-Kansas State Cotton Bowl, question of Oklahoma State’s exclusion from title game arises

Below is a video of ESPN’s first analysis of the upcoming Cotton Bowl featuring Arkansas and Kansas. I found it to get really interesting around 1:40, when the game is discussed as a possible litmus test of the worthiness of No. 1 LSU’s opponent in the BCS National Championship game.

That is, which team was more worthy of being selected as that foe – Alabama or Oklahoma State? Alabama, of course, won out, and ESPN pointed to strength of schedule as one of the reasons. Although Oklahoma State had more win over Top 25 teams, Alabama was perceived on the whole to have beaten better teams.

ESPN deemed Arkansas as Alabama’s most impressive win of the season, while calling Kansas State as Oklahoma State’s most impressive win of the season.

So, it goes to reason, that if Arkansas beats Kansas State, the SEC’s strength is further justified and Alabama fans should feel even more justified. But an Arkansas loss would give Oklahoma State fans even more milk to spill in regards to their spurned national title hopes.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrbrLofSzT4&w=560&h=315]

29 Nov

Stuck in Third Gear: Why Arkansas Must Find Better Personnel

  Four years ago, Bobby Petrino arrived in Fayetteville and started proving himself from the start. Arkansas’ new coach promised to unite a fan base that had been fractured in the months preceding Houston Nutt’s ignominious departure, and started fulfilling that with a 5-7 season throughout which the team markedly improved. Ryan Mallett came aboard the next season and began smashing every passing record in sight on the way to an 8-5 finish and a Liberty Bowl win. In 2010, Arkansas rose yet another level with 10 wins while losing to defending national champion Alabama and eventual national champion Auburn in fairly tight games. Yes, the Hogs lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, but reaching a BCS bowl was another sign things were pointing up. Anything seemed possible for Petrino, who’d done the near-miraculous in three years.

Now, this season.
10-2 should be a great record. It should represent consistent excellence. Yet something doesn’t sit well.

Read More

25 Nov

When it comes to rivalry games involving boot booty, Arkansas-LSU stomps all over Wyoming-Colorado State

Arkansas-LSU's boot is far bigger than CSU-Wyoming's. In pretty much every way that matters.

Turns out a rivalry game trophy involving a very heavy boot representation isn’t the sole domain of Arkansas and LSU, who have clashed for the above-pictured piece of hardware since 1996.  Border rivals Wyoming and Colorado State have been battling for a bronze boot all their own since 1968.

That, of course, was at the height of the Vietnam war and unsurprisingly this Bronze Boot has martial origins:

In 1968, the ROTC detachments of the respective schools initiated the Bronze Boot, a traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the “Border War” each year. The boot was worn in the Vietnam War by Cpt. Dan J. Romero, an Adams State College graduate and Army ROTC instructor at CSU between 1967 and 1969. Each year leading up to the Wyoming–Colorado State game, the game ball is carried in a running shuttle relay by the ROTC detachment of the visiting team down US 287 to the Wyoming-Colorado state border, where the home team’s ROTC detachment receives it and runs the game ball to the stadium hosting the game. The trophy is guarded by the ROTC unit of the past year’s winning school during the game.

I have to admit, if what wikipedia is telling me is true, this ritual sounds pretty sweet.

Still, my guess is very few people outside of Wyoming and a slice of Colorado ever get short of breath talking about this rivalry. A far cry from the national implications of today’s No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 1 LSU game.

27 Sep

Alabama versus Arkansas: A Statistical Breakdown of Recruiting

The venues, helmets and results stay the same.
All that changes, it seems, are the stitches on the back of their opponents’ jerseys.
By falling to Alabama 38-14, Arkansas lost its bid to join college football’s VIP club for the fifth time in three years. Forget Arkansas-LSU: that annual late-season showdown is always close, and the Hogs will win their fair share.
But the SEC money games which could catapult the Razorbacks into national title contention occur in the season’s first few weeks, and the Hogs have whiffed on Alabama the last three seasons, Florida in 2009 and Auburn in 2010.
Each time, there’s a recurring theme: Arkansas’ opponents unleash game changers with talent the Razorbacks simply can’t match.