Arkansas Fight Panel Discussion: Week 9 - Hope, Razorback Offense, Auburn Talk

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

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

1. Now that we've had a week to calm down, have we still given up hope for this year or have you been able to talk yourself into hope for November?

Trent: Hope for a bowl is gone. What remains is hope for hope for 2014. We are at the level of hoping for future hope. Man, that soulless robot really got us good.

Adam: Define hope. The only thing I can hope for is at least be competitive, and god-willing, another one or two wins, in the final 4 games.

Brent: "Define hope" is the correct answer.

Scottie: I'm saving what little hope I have left for Mississippi State. That seems to be the only possibly victory left on the schedule.

Zack: No, the sooner this year ends, the better. Not college football as a whole, obviously. You all know what I mean.

Graham: As a Razorback fan, I am used to the hoping part. I'm real good at it. It's the believing part, again, because I am a Razorback fan, that I have a hard time doing.

Drew: I guess we're not "mathematically" eliminated yet, but those are just numbers. Basketball season starts soon, right?

Kevin: I am not hopeful that we'll win enough games to go bowling. But I am still hopeful that we won't see any more 52-0 losses. Still hopeful that we'll get the Auburn game into the 4th quarter. Still hopeful that we'll beat Miss. State.

Randy: The basketball team looks pretty good.

Doc: I'm going to take those answers as a "No".

2. Can Bielema and Jim Chaney work together to put a functioning offense on the field or are they too different? Or is the talent at quarterback and receiver too bad for any coach to overcome?

Brent: I don't see anything incompatible in the philosophies; Chaney's got a pretty varied background and has proven the ability to adapt. All of Arkansas' offensive problems at this point begin with talent and end with execution. At least one of those needs to be taken care of before we can properly evaluate the coaches.

Trent: I think a capable offense is not an impossibility between Bielema and Chaney. This season has just been a perfect storm of the sum of the parts being MORE than the whole. Just an unprecedented lack of chemistry.

Kevin: I don't know anything about how Chaney and Bielema get along with one another behind the scenes. I can say, however, that the talent level on the field at those two positions would probably make most coaches want to call in sick each Saturday. Maybe Branden Allen is still hurting from the injury? But he is making mental, not arm mistakes, game after game. The receivers, well, a ghost squad. And when Allen does get a ball in their direction, they've been dropping them.

Scottie: I definitely think they can coexist, but it wouldn't hurt to have a little more talent at each position. That would certainly make Chaney and Bert's jobs easier.

Randy: Bielema asks Chaney to deliver a power running game. Chaney tries. Their interaction beyond that is unclear. Nothing is incompatible, philosophically. No passing means defenses can overload the run blocking without fear.

Adam: This baffles me each and every week. Just run the ball. Make HDN proud.

Drew: Poor Brandon Allen is 28/78 with 4 INTs and no TDs in his last 3 games. Would running AC and JW up the middle every play be any worse? Probably not.

Zack: I don't see it happening this year. QB and WR situation is pretty bad, but I'm having trouble naming a single player on Auburn's offense and their QB played defense last year. They're top 15. We've got a typical QB and vet receivers who can't catch.

Graham: Being an optimist going into the season, as most of us were, I thought their differences could provide an intriguing dynamic for opposing defenses. Turns out this theory and my blind optimism were crushed. I like Cheney and what he has done in the past. I believe that with better talent to work with the two could form a cohesive unit, but for now -- due to the lack of experience as much as anything else -- the offense is overwhelming the players.

Doc: Statistically, this is Arkansas' worst passing offense since the disastrous 2005 season. Brandon Allen's actually attempted the exact same amount of passes that Robert Johnson attempted that year (158). Johnson completed 89 passes to Allen's 71, but Brandon has passed for more yards (955 to 876) and his touchdown:interception ratio is slightly better (8:7 to 5:6).

All that to say, Arkansas won't get much better until the quarterback gets better. Sure, the receivers haven't been helping him out, but Allen's also made plenty of bad decisions on his own. What's scary about Arkansas' future is that next year's quarterbacks will be Allen, two redshirt freshmen and a true freshman. And there are no big name wide receivers on Arkansas' current commit list.

We know from Chaney's history that he has the ability to put a high-powered passing attack on the field, but Arkansas doesn't have the players right now, and it's unclear when they will.

3. Arkansas is 5-2 it the last 7 vs Auburn and 3-1 vs Malzahn. Will the Hogs continue that run by playing well this week? If Arkansas somehow wins, is this considered on the level of Petrino's 2008 LSU victory?

Randy: The coaches who succeeded against Malzahn are gone. Recall how much our past record against South Carolina was worth. Auburn will hear the lamentation of our women. Ellis Johnson will stop everything Arkansas has.

Drew: Willie Robinson was always kryptonite to Gus. You think we can get him back on retainer for this week? It would definitely be the highest profile win of the season.

Trent: I don't think Arkansas wins. I do think it will be close at least into the second half. If the Hogs were to pull it off, however, it absolutely would rate alongside the 2008 LSU game.

Graham: Think what a win would do to the psyche of this team -- and as we see on a regular basis -- its fans. A team playing with confidence heads to Ole Miss for an 11:30 kickoff. Winning that game isn't out of the realm of possibilites. Then that same team comes home to a rabid "home" crowd... in Little Rock. This is best case scenario, I know, but think what that sort of streak would do for the entire state's mindset, all of which would start by beating No. 8 Auburn.

Scottie: I think Arkansas can play with Auburn Saturday, being at home and all. But ultimately, I think Auburn pulls away in the second half. I don't think it would top the 08 LSU game, but it would be CBB's signature win to this point.

Adam: I'm so tired of predicting the Hogs games this year. My mind says they always have a shot, but my body (I said my bodddddddy) is telling me no! If they end up beating the War Tiger Eagles, I don't think it matches that LSU win. I don't want to give the Gus Bus that much credit.

Kevin: I think the Hogs will start out the gate playing well against Auburn. But the test is going to come when the first negative rears its ugly head. How will the Hogs respond to that? Based upon recent play, I would have to say that they'll fold like a cheap tent. I think Petrino's 2008 victory had a different feel because it was the last game of the season. We went out winning at least, even though it was a losing season. Even if we beat Auburn, we still have LSU at the end of the year, and whatever happens there will set the tone more for the off-season.

Brent: The Hogs have had Aubbie's number in recent years, but I don't think that matters this weekend. Maybe if Chizik was still roaming the Plains in his sweet, leather outerwear ... Also: why do we hate Gus so much? What's his great sin? Bailing on Nutt? Wouldn't you have done the same? It seems like every decision he's made since (Auburn, A-State, Auburn) have been smart career choices. Is it guilt by association re: the Springdale drama of the mid-00s? Isn't it time to let that go? I just have a hard time understanding the vitriol toward the dude from our fanbase. Maybe somebody can help me out here...

4. Do you buy Auburn as a legit top-10 or 15 type of team?

Adam: No. Whether that's founded on reality or just my Gus disgust. No.

Scottie: Top 10, no. But I wouldn't disagree with top 15. I wasn't buying into the whole Auburn being ranked thing going into the Texas A&M game, but they proved me wrong. Winning in College Station was impressive and earned them some respect from me.

Trent: Auburn is a little overrated, but not much. There are teams above them I think they'd likely beat, and teams below them that they would lose to.

Zack: They've done something right. It doesn't take a team like that to have the game wrapped by halftime though.

Drew: It's hard to argue with 7-1, but I'd kill to trade schedules with them this year. It occurs to me that had we not pissed one away in Piscataway and eked out one more score against A&M, that could be us in the rankings.

Graham: With the system the way it is, if you win, you rise up the rankings. The Tigers keep winning. Finishing in that top-10 to 15 range will be determined this weekend, if they can knock of UGA, and by how many points they lose to Alabama.

Randy: Auburn has the schedule for it. Arkansas is one of the breathers.

Brent: That's a tough question. It's one of those seasons where there are only three teams who are really impressive. Then there's a one-team second-tier (Ohio State), and then the great, unwashed masses of the middle class (all apologies, Baylor, but beat somebody not terrible and I'll start believing). This year's college football class disparity encapsulated: Miami is the No. 7 team in the country and opened as 21-point (21-point!) underdog to No. 3 Florida State this week. The gulf between the good and everybody else is wide, and after the drop-off, I don't see much difference between No. 5 (Stanford) and No. 25 (Notre Dame). So given that, sure, why not? Auburn could be No. 11 or they could be No. 21. What's the difference?

Kevin: They did seem to race up the polls really fast. But I watched them play LSU, and they were fighting Tigers to the very end. The game was really out of reach (less a miracle), but they still fought hard. They might not be a legit top ten team in what they've accomplished thus far, but they are a no quit team.

Doc: A no quit team. What I would give for a no quit team. Seems like such a luxury right now.

5. If Auburn scores 52 straight points this week, you will ________.

Trent: Make a drink and start cheering for 200.

Doc: Ha, it really would be self-loathing disaster porn at that point. Note: this is the second time this season I've referred to disaster porn in these panel discussions. Says a lot about this season.

Brent: Brace for the next de-commitment, apocalypse, etc. And avoid the message boards for another week. So it goes.

Adam: Be content that my moral foundation is in tact.

Drew: Find out who Gus sold his soul to, and see if I can outbid him.

Zack: Go about my day like I usually do, due to the normalcy of said occurance.

Scottie: Probably not see the last 28 of those points. I will not sit through that kind of torture again.

Graham: I'll lose hope for the Mississippi State game and remind everyone of Arkansas' cross country program.

Kevin: I'll have a hard time facing a coworker who is an obnoxious Auburn fan.

Randy: Not bat an eye. It is coming. So is basketball season.
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