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Arkansas Fight Panel Discussion: Moving On From Georgia, Toward UAB

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

Wesley Hitt

1. How much stock do you put into Arkansas mini-comeback in the 2nd half against Georgia? Was it meaningless or was it evidence the team just had a massive brain fart in the 2nd quarter and everything is ok?

Adam F: It was a little bit of both. Georgia kept the starters in, continued to play man defense, and blitzed quite a bit, so it wasn't a glorified scrimmage. But it's hard to play with any sense of urgency and a 32-point lead. I like what I saw from Brandon Allen in the second half, and am hoping that Arkansas continues to throw on early downs.

Mark: Georgia's foot was by no means on the pedal, but 45-32 at least reveals some fight. Better than 45-0 at half and finishing 59-0. Everything isn't OK, and maybe we got ahead of ourselves some in the Bama aftermath, but we're not a bad team. We're really not. Think of us in the ACC right now, where we'd be playing for a championship.

Ryan: Zero. Nada. Nothing. Georgia quit blitzing and being aggressive. They could have won that game 70-12 if they had wanted to. It's not really about Arkansas having a brain fart. Georgia is just that much better than Arkansas. It happens.

Jamie: I'm not sure "massive brain fart in the 2nd quarter" is strong enough to describe what we watched in that game.  Those players were fragile and weren't interested in another let down and it showed on the field.  I do put some stock in the comeback.  It shows that the staff can keep the team together after a half like that and that they players are able to rally.  You have to be able to do that in the SEC.

Scottie: It was encouraging to see Arkansas fight back after halftime. On several occasions in the past (2012 & 2013 Alabama, 2013 South Carolina) when they got down big early and didn't seem to have the want-to to at least finish strong. If Arkansas doesn't give Georgia 14 points off turnovers in the 2nd quarter we're talking about a completely different ballgame.

Devan: I mean, they didn't throw in the towel, lay down, and get beat 56-13. That says something. But that 2nd quarter was one of the worst I've seen in a long time. Changed the whole game in a matter of 5-6 minutes.

Mitchell: Definitely proved that the team we fielded for the second quarter isn't indicative of our football team's ability. The second quarter was nasty, but I don't think it was enough for anyone to call us pretenders. Especially since We lost to Bama by 1 and Bama shredded TAMU 52-0.

Doc: It's kind of like the Nicholls game to me in that it showed they were playing well when the game ended. I think that's something better to build off of heading into November than if they were completely blown out.

And I disagree that Georgia didn't care at all. They're playing for the playoffs and although some say margin of victory isn't a point of consideration, overall style points are. Teams can't afford to look bad. I'm sure Georgia would have loved to held Arkansas to 6 points.

2. Is it fair to say after Georgia that occasionally playing sloppy undisciplined football is a characteristic of this team instead of just victims of unfortunate fluky moments?

Mitchell: Yes, definitely. This team has been sloppy at times with where we are in the rebuilding process. It's time to take the pitch play out to pasture and bury it in an unmarked grave. I can't bare to see that play any more this season.

Scottie: After repeatedly shooting itself in the foot I think that's a fair assumption, unfortunately. These are "correctable mistakes" but seem to show up week after week. For all we know, the team could be working to fix these in practice, but aren't capable of translating it to the field.

Adam F: Certainly. Until this team gets over the hump they are going to continue to have lapses. It's disappointing because our margin for error is so low, but that's where the team is right now.

Jamie: I think that statement is completely fair.  It should be noted it only takes a couple of mistakes to look like that against an SEC.  We don't have the luxury of playing in the ACC  where we can coast through half the schedule. Sometimes you can't even screw up once in a game and expect to win in the SEC West.

Mark: Yes to both, but mostly, undisciplined play is becoming a characteristic, I'm sad to say. Much of that exists in officials' minds, it's apparent. But whether it exists in reality or their minds, the sum of the equation is the same.

Ryan: I think all the personal fouls and unsportsmanlike penalties reflect on coaching. One incident, maybe not so much, but the Hogs had a ton. It seems to be a common theme this season. Hopefully, Bielema can address it. For the record, I don't count Braylon Mitchell's ejection against the coaching staff. He tried to blow up the quarterback and got caught. I don't think they are coaching kids to do things like that.

Devan: I think it has something to do with the depth and the youth of this team. They can play with anyone, but it seems as if there's a time frame in each game where things aren't going to go their way. The second half against Auburn, 4th against A&M, 1st quarter against Bama (Fumbled TD), 2nd quarter against Georgia are all examples. It's a random collapse and it seems to happen each game. Hopefully they can get that worked out.

Doc: It's most disappointing to me because of all the talk when Bielema was first hired about regardless of talent, we won't beat ourselves. He bragged about how few penalties his teams received and so on. it doesn't seem like it happened to this extent last year, even. If the Hogs don't get things together in November it's sadly what this team will be remembered for.

3. Arkansas has two kickers and a punter currently on scholarship, and all are currently benched in favor of walk-ons. Thoughts?

Mark: Special teams is a disaster and needs an overhaul. Not just the guys whose feet touch the ball either. Watch a punt or kick return and see opposing players barreling down the middle of the field untouched. Our return guys have no shot, literally. Plus, on punts, our strategy seems to be fair catch or simply hope it doesn't roll the wrong way or hit one of our guys. Really, we may as well employ the Pulaski Academy model at this point and have all 11 of our guys run off the field as soon as the punter kicks the ball.

Mitchell: Bring Sam Irwin-Hill back as starter. Sure he hasn't played worthy of a spot recently, but I think his upside is bigger. He can kick with both feet and he's shown that he can be a threat to convert the down if given the right look. As for kicker, Bielema needs to hold open competition for kicker on campus. I know for a fact there are probably 5 kids that played kicker decently in highschool, and 50 ex-soccer kids that can boot a ball. Bring the one in who can handle the pressure.

Ryan: I don't really count the Sam Irwin-Hill as a benching, because I think he will win the job back when he goes back to rugby style. His problem was more of experimenting for scouts. The kicking job, however, is obviously a disaster. When people point to how close the Hogs are, things like that show how far away they actually are. Some may point to Cole Hedland for next year, but Zach Hocker started as a freshman, why couldn't he?

Adam F: Kicking in college seems to be as much mental as it is physical, maybe more. The guy that can hit them in the games is who needs to play.

Jamie: I've been sitting on this theory for awhile that we're still holding something back for next year.  We signed one of the best place kickers in the nation and put a redshirt on him.  We had a quality WR (JoJo Robinson) miss one game and recommended he put one on as well.  I think this staff knows they're headed in the right direction, but we weren't threatening Atlanta this year, but we might in 1 or 2 more... and it'll be nice to have that depth then.  I also think being able to say to a recruit "Son, we are YOU away from beating Alabama.  Come be a Razorback." is a pretty good sell... but every time I go there, I feel like I should be typing this on Hogville instead of our site.

Scottie: DFA everyone. What the hell, have Dan Skipper kick PATs.

Devan: They have one of the nations best kickers from last years recruiting class on the bench being redshirted. I'm not sure why that was a good idea in the first place.

Doc: Don't think it's a stretch to say that as much as the team has improved this year, and it has, special teams has been a huge disappointment. That unit is much worse than last year in both kicking and returning and the only significant player we lost was Hocker. That's bad.

4. Other than just "playing better in the 2nd half" are there any positives you took away from the Georgia game?

Adam F: I liked what we saw when we sent the tight ends down the seams and crossed the speedy flankers underneath them. Why hasn't that been our passing offense for a year and a half?

Jamie: Like I said above, for me it wasn't the "playing better" but the not quitting and letting that game turn into some of the ugliness we saw from last year like Bama and SC.  Losing often, losing close, and just not being able to break through in an SEC game has gotta be tough on everyone, but it's not demoralizing like those 50 point blowouts that we've endured in the recent past.

Scottie: I guess the way Brandon Allen threw the ball after the half was somewhat of a positive. His INT to begin the fourth quarter was killer, but when he had time and a clean pocket he made pretty good decisions. The defense holding Georgia to just seven second half points was good to see, but at that point the Bulldogs were just trying to milk the clock and protect the lead.

Ryan: *Insert made extra point joke here*

Mark: The 26-7 second half was a positive. We fought. Just got beat by a better team. But man, why do we keep offering our opponents so much help? Positives -- Williams is the primary back, right now anyway. As Adam points out, give him 25-30 touches. He finds a crease and gets what he can when not much is there. The success of Derby and Henry in the pass game in the second half bodes well. Perhaps we'll "re-imagine" the passing game a little.

Devan: Chaney finally learned that there is a pair of good tight ends on the team, and hey, THEY CAN CATCH THE BALL. He should utilize them more often. They also can score in the 4th quarter. Who knew.

Mitchell: Well, we didn't give up. It would've been easy to half-ass the second half, so credit our guys for going out and at least looking like they didn't want to get embarrassed on their "home" field.

5. What will you be looking for during the UAB game?

Ryan: The Hogs should dominate like they have in their other non-con games. I don't look at the struggle versus Georgia as a step back, but if they struggle with UAB, that is a definite step back.

Adam F: Passing on early downs, and how the defense looks if Brooks Ellis is still. Plus field goal kicking, I guess.

Jamie: I'm looking to put the game away fairly early and watch the team have some fun in the second half.  Seeing some points on the board and some smiles (I hate what that reminds me of) on the sidelines from these players will be a nice change, hopefully, and a welcome ramp up to the finish of our SEC schedule.  I think they can find something in this game that'll give some hope back and can lead us to find that SEC win (or 2?) to close out the season.

Scottie: The offensive line needs to dominate. They seem to have lost a bit of their edge the last few weeks, and a lot of that has been the competition, but we haven't seen the same nasty, physical group of early in the season. This could also be a week to get Alex Collins back on track. He's in a major funk and needs to break out of it this weekend. With Korliss Marshall out for the foreseeable future, I think it's important to get AC3 going again.

Mitchell: A return to form. Our guys can play good ball. This game against an inferior opponent is the time to figure some stuff out, gain a confidence boos, and more importantly infuse that record with a much needed win.

Mark: Simply, a clean game. Let's shoot for zero penalties. Special teams progress. And of course, a win that enables us to get reserves some time. Probably too late to actually develop depth at this point, but with 4 (well, 3) grinders coming up after UAB, it'd be nice to feel more comfortable with some of the reserves.

Devan: A complete shellacking. There are a lot of comparisons between Petrino's 2009 team and this year's team. In 09 Arkansas lost a shootout to Georgia, blown-out by Bama, and lost a heartbreaker to #1 Florida. Compares a lot to the A&M, Bama, and Georgia games this year. In Petrino's second year Arkansas was 3-4 seven games into the season and then EMU came to town and Arkansas destroyed them. It changed the season and Arkansas made a bowl. Saying that the 2009 schedule was easier than the gauntlet this year's team has but, There's still a (small) chance things could turn out that way for this team.