Arkansas Fight Panel Discussion: Week 8 - Razorbacks' Quarterback Situation, Preparing for Alabama & November, Crowd Thoughts

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Gathering our contributors' thoughts on the topics of the week.

1. Arkansas' QB situation, your thoughts? What should Arkansas do?

Randy: Five games remain. Four after the trip to Tuscaloosa. The ender at Baton Rouge is a no-hoper too. We're talking about three games, two at home: Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The quarterback who best fits this offense should play now. That means the one who won't turn over the football. Said it last week, saying it again: Brandon Allen's turnovers are killing the Razorbacks. Don't care how it's fixed, just fix that.

Adam: What they're doing with Brandon Allen is simply NOT working. He's only practicing ONE DAY a week because of his hurt shoulder. It should be no mystery now why we are looking so bad on offense. Fix this, Bert!

Trent: AJ Derby just doesn't have the tools. Make him a linebacker. If Brandon Allen is healthy, he's your quarterback. If, like Bielema has alluded to, he's not, then it's time to pull a redshirt.

Two four-star guys are redshirting, with highly-rated quarterbacks coming in for the next two seasons. That's four quarterbacks. Somebody is going to transfer. If I were in Austin's or Duwop's shoes, I would want the opportunity to establish myself before the competition gets even stiffer.

Scottie: I have some pee-wee football quarterbacking experience...

Graham: If Scottie is unable to go then I don't know where else to turn. Since the Texas A&M game, Brandon Allen's production has been consistently falling off. One option is A.J. Derby, but we've been down that road before. One problem is Arkansas is coming off a golden age of quarterbacks after Ryan Mallet and Tyler Wilson. It may be that no one one on the active roster is capable of their record-breaking production, and we just have to live through the growing pains right now.

Zack: From what I can tell, we've got two guys who aren't particularly fond of throwing the football well, and receivers who aren't fond of catching it.

Doc: If the coaches are being honest when they say they believe Brandon Allen gives Arkansas its best shot at winning, then I think they should leave him in. We haven't seen Austin Allen or Damon Mitchell play, so none of us really know if they're any better or not right now. We know Derby isn't better, granted he hasn't thrown an interception this year, but if Arkansas is going to go out and struggle against these good teams, at least put the kid on scholarship on the field.

All that being said, I don't see the purpose for the program in holding on to the redshirts just for the sake of holding on to the redshirts. We're in a situation in a couple of years when we could have redshirt senior Brandon Allen, redshirt sophomores Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell, redshirt freshman Rafe Peavey, and true freshman Ty Storey. Is it really so bad if one of those redshirt sophomores becomes a true junior? I think the Hogs still have something to play for in November, and if the coaches really think one of the freshmen are better, they should put him in.

But if they truly believe Brandon is the best on the roster right now, they have to leave him in.

2. Are the Razorbacks as bad as we feel this week, or is it the result of the schedule? If Arkansas had Auburn or Missouri's schedule, how differently do we feel today, if at all?

Zack: Arkansas plays in the SEC West. Their schedule is incredibly difficult each year, we've had success in this league (sorta). This is not a good team. Let's credit this to "rebuilding".

Scottie: I think it's a result of the schedule and playing eight straight to begin the season, but honestly, I just don't think this team is very good.

Adam: The schedule isn't doing us any favors, but it is showing us just HOW BAD we are in the SEC. Allen from the fancast even thinks we might be the worst in the SEC. It's hard not to agree with that after the last several weeks. And after throwing in the towel in the first quarter against South Carolina, we deserve to be considered the worst. Where's the fight?

Graham: I think they are in contention for worst team in the SEC, unfortunately including Kentucky. Arkansas may have at least a .500 record with a different schedule, but at some point the SEC schedule would catch up with them. Both Mizzou and Auburn have beaten ranked teams this season which is something I'm not confident saying the Hogs will do this season. I would trade schedules with Missouri just so the Hogs would have to play Arkansas State. Of course, living out of state, I wouldn't have to deal with the ramifications if the Razorbacks lost to the Red Wolves.

Doc: It's true that Arkansas wouldn't beat any SEC team playing like they did against Carolina, but that was by far Arkansas' worst performance this year. It has to be one of the program's worst performances in recent memory. Maybe my entire life.  Meaning, I think Arkansas' generally much better than that. I think what we're feeling is mostly a result of losing four in a row, three in a row to ranked teams, and being so god-awful in the most recent game.

A year after everything went against Arkansas' way, things are still going against Arkansas' way. Brandon Allen hurts his shoulder on a routine fall in the end zone, knocking him out of the Rutgers game. Even though Derby isn't the reason Arkansas lost that game, I tend to think Arkansas wins if Allen played. And if he'd just waited to hurt his shoulder during the gauntlet, and he misses the Florida or Carolina game, who cares? Those are games Arkansas loses anyway. And of course, the SEC did us no favors in replacing our Kentucky trip with a trip to Florida. If Allen's healthy for Rutgers and Arkansas wins, and the Hogs beat Kentucky instead of losing to Florida, we're all feeling much better, sitting at 5-2 instead of 3-4. But, you know, that's football.

The fact that the team appears to be so rattled after the interceptions really bothers me, though. Especially because they fought back against A&M after the pick 6, scoring the next time they had the ball, but it felt like they folded up shop after the interceptions against Florida and Carolina. That's really troubling.

I do think the Razorback team that fought Texas A&M could've beaten Ole Miss. And I'm still not sold on Missouri, considering the Georgia team they beat had just been lucky to escape Tennessee the week before after suffering so many injuries.

Trent: The schedule is playing a huge role, although I'm not sure the Hogs could have beaten Indiana early as Missouri did, or can beat Ole Miss as Auburn did.

The problem with this schedule is that we should be in a situation in Week 8 where we see some improvement from the beginning of the season, but can't get a game against a similarly matched team to do any real evaluation.

Auburn is going to tell us a TON.

Randy: This is uncharted territory. At no time in the misery that was John L. Smith football did the Hogs lose by 45 points at home to a football team as unremarkable as Steve Spurrier's perennially underachieving Gamecocks. Arkansas was permitted 52 fewer offensive plays than the opponent - this was in one game. Offense had seven first downs, not in one quarter but four quarters.

Here are some reasons why this happened. Spurrier wanted to set a precedent with the new Arkansas coach after Bobby Petrino owned him. Bret Bielema did not realize how high the Cocks would be for this game. The interception, followed by a three-pass three-and-out, demoralized the defense. Or maybe it was the three-and-out after Deatrich Wise's fumble recovery. And Arkansas's increasingly stumped coaching staff is falling further and further behind the rest of the SEC, in how much offensive and defensive diversification they've installed. The Porkers, with a physically and mentally wounded QB, are still trying to master base plays. Opponents have an assortment of ways to pick on every weak spot. Glaring clue of the problem: Arkansas has allowed 9 of 11 conversions on fourth downs.

3. Do you think Arkansas can rebound this year from 52-7? Will Arkansas be competitive in November?

Graham: If by rebound you mean get another win this season, then yes. Arkansas can get another win and if they are lucky, two wins this year. If you mean rebound and get three more wins, I think we just got boxed out, which is a whole other concern come basketball season.

Zack: Yeah, I'm afraid bowl eligibility is out of the question. 2012 and 2013 will be years to forget for Arkansas folk.

Trent: Of course they can. All one has to do is harken back to 2008. The Hogs were humiliated early, and were pretty damned competitive by the end of the season.

I think they will be competitive. But I tell you, I'm done being surprised this season. No expectations.

Adam: I think so, simply because it's hard to see us go any further south than we already are. Man, never thought I would be saying that two years in-a-row.

Scottie: The only game I believe we have a legit shot of winning in November is Mississippi State. I just don't have much faith in this team to be able to compete right now. Saturday's game took away any optimism I had left. Getting the QB situation addressed will be key in whether or not we actually do compete in the final month. I see 1-3 in November right now.

Randy: More and more by the week, it looks like Arkansas's coaching staff misallocated talent on offense and defense. On the defensive side, the Hogs should have preferred speed at linebacker and in the secondary, more than they did anyway. The selection of slow walk-on Austin Jones as the starting MLB was prime evidence. Not that there were tons of options, but hey, Will Hines is a safety playing corner. Alan Turner might make a good rover. You'd think having assistants like Randy Shannon and Taver Johnson would be enough SEC perspective.

On offense, the line has not been right all season. Are the right people at guard, at tackle? Speed backs have not been worked in for meaningful snaps. Kiero Small gets more passes than Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Heck, Williams had some monster pass plays in 2012. Anyone watch video? Julian Horton earned an opportunity, or was handed one?

Maybe during a bye week, the coaches can get players into the right positions. Maybe the team will play a lot better that way. Then we can pound our heads against the wall and wonder how the repaired Razorbacks would have looked in some of those ugly losses.

4. What are you going to be looking for during the Alabama game?

Zack: Attractive women in the stands?

Randy: A place far, far away from civilization.

Trent: Heh. Suckers to whom I can sell my Auburn tickets?

Graham: I'm looking forward to the Alabama game being over. However I would trade no more wins this season and a bowl-less season next year for a win this weekend.

Adam: Fight. They have to know they don't have the horses to win the race against Alabama. But if you can't fight to win the game, fight for the LOVE of the game. Fight for your position. Make us fans believe in you and the program. Fight tooth-and-nail until the end.

Scottie: I also want to see if Arkansas still has any fight in them. Did the 45-point loss piss them off and light a fire, or are they just going to roll over? Oh, and Dee Dee Bonner.

5. A lot of talk this weekend about Arkansas' crowd. What are your thoughts on leaving games early? Any other thoughts on the crowd?

Scottie: An attendance under 67,000 for a homecoming game against a ranked opponent is bad. Really bad. But who could blame people for not wanting to watch their team be manhandled on their own turf? Had I not been in the press box for the game, I probably would have left early, too. By the fourth quarter, I could count the number of kids left in the student section. You play bad football, you're going to get bad home crowds.

Adam: We're huge proponents of staying until the end of the game. However, the rules changed on Saturday. Why should the fans not get the option to quit on the team AFTER the team has quit on themselves? Fans will stay and watch their team COMPETE. There was no competition in the game from much of anyone after the first quarter.

Trent: I used to stay until the end without fail. I would look down my nose at those who didn't.

A few years ago, I finally grew up and realized that there comes no additional responsibility with buying tickets. You don't HAVE to stay. You don't HAVE to cheer. You don't even have to go. They are for your enjoyment. Period. And sometimes I like to leave early. I'm not going to judge others who do as well.

Zack: You bought your ticket, do what you want to do. I'm not a guy that leaves early, but I most certainly do not blame those who did last week. Hell, I left for work 30 minutes early.

Randy: Our home crowds are a statement of what the program is and what we deserve. Arkansas has the kind of fan support that might support a .500 football program. Men's basketball is in the same boat. Just because a handful of rich people can donate enough cash to build grand edifices doesn't mean Arkansas has the fans to support teams through thick and thin. Now we're in a situation where the winning has to come before the fans do. What are the odds against that? Our coaches in both money sports are trudging into a fierce headwind. Because there's so many better things to do in Arkansas. LOL.

Graham: Be honest. If you watched at home, did you watch every painstaking play? I didn't.  I'm not condoning these sorts of actions, but I understand that torturing yourself is not a healthy habit. I bet the percentage of folks who stayed at the stadium the whole game is higher than those who watched EVERY play at home. The one concern is the near 35 recruits that were in attendance. To that I say the play on the field, not only the atmosphere, was a deterrent for any prospect.

Doc: I think this is just how college football (and sports in general) is today. Going to games requires much more sacrifice than it used to. Everything is more expensive, and if you go to a game, that usually dominates your entire day. And if you're a big college football fan, you inevitably miss out on whatever's going on around the country if you go to a game since everything's on TV now.

In Arkansas' situation, you had a team on a 3 game losing streak with a pre-noon kickoff and predictions of rain all week (even though the weather turned out to be nice) and playing a team few really care about. The Razorbacks depend on people traveling into Northwest Arkansas to fill the stadium, but all those circumstances combine for shoddy attendance and leaving early when things go badly. That's not unique to Arkansas. It happens everywhere. People have more options now than they used to, and they don't want to spend a ton of money sitting in a depressed stadium watching disappointing football.

It isn't about support. The fans still support the team. It's about sense. As in, it doesn't make any freaking sense to sit there the whole time and watch it. It's like disaster porn. Gotta pull yourself away at some point.
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