This Arkansas football team just plain stinks. It’s boring, stale and there is limited hope for the immediate future.
The first two criticisms, aimed mostly at coach Bret Bielema, would be excusable under ordinary circumstances. We know this because Year 2 and 3 in the Bielema regime, and parts of Year 4, were rather bland. Exciting games perhaps (The Hunter Heave and TCU come to mind immediately), but not exactly sexy football on the regular.
Those criticisms, however, when coupled with the next two, provide all the necessary ammunition to a fan base gnashing its collective teeth.
LSU didn’t just beat Arkansas, 33-10. The Tigers manhandled Arkansas. The smash-mouth approach Bielema brought with him from Wisconsin was shoved right back in his face. The pro-style offense was dysfunctional with practically a one-armed quarterback, meaning tight-end screen passes became the most successful plays on the menu. LSU was not fooled, save on one or two occasions.
An LSU team with limited quarterback talent, mediocre coaching and an worse-than-usual defense dominated Arkansas. It seems superfluous to even talk about at this point. Now we would all be plainly surprised if Arkansas wasn’t dominated by a team. LSU was the last best hope.
“Arkansas football is boring” is mostly an ancillary critique. Football needn’t be entertaining to be quality. That said, if it’s unappealing to people watching on television, is it really appealing to 16-year-olds who need to make a college choice? It would be one thing if those shootouts with Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss were commonplace with average-or-better opponents, but they’re not.
“Arkansas football is stale.” Five years of the Bielema regime, a regime that has yielded moderate success and loads of frustration and near-misses, have grown tiresome for all but the most sanguine and naive. We know what we’ll get with a Bielema-coached team. For better or worse, we know. Mostly it’s been ‘worse’ lately.
“Arkansas football has a limited future.” How many future NFLers do you see healthy on this roster? McTelvin Agim, a sophomore defensive end, looks like one. Um…De’Jon Harris maybe. It’s a struggle to find anyone else. Depth is a problem at Arkansas and has been for years. What’s a bigger problem is the extreme lack of playmakers in the first unit, too. Rock-bottom can’t be far off.
“Arkansas football is bad.” If miracle wins against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina didn’t suggest that enough, the cluster of a game Saturday against LSU should have sealed it.
There is almost nothing redeeming about the 2017 Razorbacks. Not on the field, anyway. Flashes of brilliance, however few, are quickly extinguished. This is John L. Smith-level bad and there is no excuse for things getting to that point.
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