Bielema: For the first time since I’ve been here, I was legitimately pissed off Saturday night and Sunday.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) November 23, 2015
Really? The first time? Ever? Coach does realize he lost his first 13 SEC games here, right?
Actually, this was the first time I was truly angry as well. But probably not for the exact same reasons. Well, some of the same reasons.
Bielema: "I got done with the game ... 11:30 or whatever and I'm dying and I go watch the FG clip and I go through the roof."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Bret Bielema: It was a breakdown in protection on the field goal attempt going for the win Saturday.— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 23, 2015
Bielema: "I think the kid that blocked it was shocked he was there. Blocked it pretty much with his body, not his hands."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Bielema: We weren't able to execute the most monumental, easy thing we have to be able to accomplish, which is a FG inside the 20-yd line.— Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) November 22, 2015
Bielema is clearly putting the blame on the blockers, which is fine. But the simple fact of the matter is that this isn't a new situation. This is at least the third blocked kick Arkansas' suffered this season, and it's not even the one from the shortest distance. A 22-yard kick was blocked in the Tennessee game. The unit just hasn't been consistent this season, which makes the decision to play for the kick all the more baffling.
To be fair, Hedlund and the entire Arkansas kicking unit have been somewhat reliable in short kicks this season. They've been perfect on extra points and that Tennessee kick is the only attempt within 27 yards that has failed so far. However, they're now 1-for-5 on kicks from 28 yards out or farther.
In other words, Arkansas' safe field goal range is within the 10-yard line. Not the 20. Sad, but true.
BB: On the last series, you have to think about the clock. We wanted to make sure we had the right position on the field— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 23, 2015
Enos: From a time management standpoint, Coach Bielema was an A+ in the plan on our final drive— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 23, 2015
Bielema: Felt good about keeping the ball on the ground and making a routine field goal.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) November 23, 2015
Bielema: "we haven't been great on field goals, but we've been alright from that distance. I wouldn't change anything else"— AJ Mccord (@4029AJ) November 23, 2015
Clock consideration is obviously important. And if Arkansas had gotten one more first down by getting inside the 10-yard line, they could have drained the clock entirely and set up something much closer to an extra point instead of giving Mississippi State the time for a field goal drive, which would have been the case had Arkansas made the field goal.
Of course, extra point or 50-yarder, if the defenders aren't blocked it doesn't matter.
Enos: What you have to understand is that we didn’t need a field goal to tie, we needed a FG to win. Get sacked & you’re out of range.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) November 23, 2015
1. The field goal was not to win, it was to take the lead and pray for defense to make a play. Arkansas still would have had to play defense and keep Mississippi State out of field goal range, which they'd done a terrible job of doing so far in the game.
Again, a first down would have allowed Arkansas to drain the clock and kick the ball with no time left, in which case it would have been to win. Or, score a touchdown and a two point conversion (Arkansas has converted four straight two point conversions) and force the Bulldogs to score a touchdown in a minute. Granted, Allen may have thrown a incompletions, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, or so that meme says.
2. Yes, Allen could have been sacked. But do you know what Arkansas' sack-allowed rate is? 3.3% Allen has not been sacked on 96.7% of his drop-backs this season. As written after the game, over 98% of his passes have not been intercepted.
Sure, Allen could have been sacked. He could have been picked off. The odds really aren't any better that he would have done something like that compared to the odds Alex Collins or Kody Walker might have fumbled. They've dropped the ball on a little over 2% of their carries this year, so it's basically even. But you know what? They still could have. The same way the snap on the field goal could have been high or it could have been low. No one is arguing that things couldn't happen, but based on Arkansas' statistics, we're talking about outliers, here.
However, you know what's far more reliably shaky? Arkansas' kicking stats for anything beyond an extra point. Stop making the case it was the smart percentage play. It simply wasn't. Maybe it is for NFL teams or college teams with great kicking units, but Arkansas isn't among that group.
Conventional football wisdom doesn't apply to every individual team in every individual situation.
Bielema: "I'm not getting frustrated, it's just that time of the year when as a head coach you need like three more days in a week"— AJ Mccord (@4029AJ) November 23, 2015
Bielema: I know where we’re going, I’m just impatient.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) November 23, 2015
Bielema: "Just realizing you're that close to beating someone of that stature. .. I knew if we beat them what it meant to me."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Wait, we're referring to Mississippi State as "someone of that stature"? What is this magic?
I'm very well aware Arkansas hasn't beaten Mississippi State since 2011, which is extremely frustrating in and of itself. But if we're being honest, of Arkansas' five losses this season, I'd turn all four of the others around before I turned this one around.
Well, then Arkansas would have lost an undefeated season Saturday night, and to do that in that fashion would have been devastating. So I'm glad that didn't happen, but I think you guys know what I mean.
Keon Hatcher is not going to participate in senior day.— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Bielema: Keon's coming back and SEC will let J.Will talk to upper-NFL folks before making call. Says J-Will was 3rd to 5th round last year— Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) November 23, 2015
Bielema: I want the best for J-Will. … I know he’s a second-rounder, but I’m not the one making that decision.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) November 23, 2015
Bielema: "My biggest fear is if he (Williams) jumps into it and he's not able to show everything he can show."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Good to hear that Keon Hatcher will almost definitely be back next season. Arkansas wide receiver group could be special if everybody comes back on schedule. That will be a big benefit to the new quarterback, obviously, and should free up some holes for running backs - whoever ends up back there with Kody Walker.
Obviously, there's a part of every fan that would like to see Jonathan Williams come back as well, but I think I'd be so terrified for him the entire year. Go ahead and get paid.
Bielema: "I wish I had put two or three more players in the linebacker depth chart (recruiting). We are just so thin there right now."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Bielema: "If we had known injuries were going to happen, we would have played (Kendrick Jackson) at LB. He'll probably move back there."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
Arkansas' linebacker recruiting has just been bad for a long time. There wasn't anything left in the cupboard when Bielema took over, and he's struggled to add much to it.
Bielema's first group was good with Martrell Spaight and Brooks Ellis, but small in numbers. And since Spaight was a juco, he's obviously already gone. The 2014 group hasn't produced much, and the most promising player, Randy Ramsey, left the team in the offseason. Dre Greenlaw of course looks promising among this year as a true freshman, but there are two others redshirting.
Arkansas has three linebacker commitments in the 2016 class, but none are the type of highly-rated prospect likely to come in and be a great player immediately. Of course, Greenlaw wasn't highly recruited either, and a replication of his freshman season by one of the new players could be best-case scenario next year.
Bielema: "We do all right in trophy games."— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2015
If it makes you feel better, sure. Arkansas has won The Boot twice and won the Texas Bowl. Still haven't beaten A&M or Missouri, however.
Defensive coordinator Robb Smith: "Biggest takeaway from Saturday is we have to improve"— AJ Mccord (@4029AJ) November 23, 2015
Right you are, Robb. Right you are.