Brought to you as always by Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and more Tito's Vodka. You think you've got enough? You don't. Did you watch that bullshit? YOU NEED MORE VODKA.
I don't even know where to begin.
We could talk about penalties, which absolutely crippled Arkansas. The ones that were deserved, and the ones there were obviously terrible calls. We could talk about how this was always going to be a really tough test for this team, trying to defend a supercharged, super speedy spread offense with no pass rush and a deficiency at linebacker. We could talk about how this team under this coach just seems to be snakebit when it comes to close games.
Wait, we probably should talk about that.
Is it 0-10 now in close games under Bret Bielema? Is that the stat? AND YOU MET YOUR SMOKING HOT WIFE IN A CASINO? How do you not at least trip and stumble into one single win in that situation? I'll tell you why.
After the Arkansas defense miraculously held Texas A&M in their first drive of the fourth quarter, Arkansas got the ball with 10:35 left in the game. They had an eight point lead. And instead of trying to ice the game by orchestrating a scoring drive with a brilliant mix of run and pass (THAT HAD WORKED THE ENTIRE GAME, MIND YOU) to go up by 15, or hell, even 11, Bret Bielema and Dan Enos decided the smartest play was to try and orchestrate a 10:35 drive. Instead of running the clock and scoring, the goal became simply to run the clock OUT. The Hogs switched off the offense that had been working all night, and it's a switch that cannot be turned back on.
If you didn't recognize that Rawleigh Williams III getting stopped for a loss on 1st down was the beginning of the end, then I wish you'd have been watching the game with me, because my wife had already gone to bed and my son was complaining about my yelling and I needed somebody to tell that that play was the beginning of the end. The Kirkland penalty was just confirmation. By the time Dre Greenlaw got lost in coverage and gave up that big pass play, I was silent and nodding and resigned to our fate, sticking with the game only to see just how macabre the football gods could make this Arkansas loss.
Mistake. I always, always underestimate their capacity for evil when it comes to this team and this fan base. Ramsay Bolton would squeamishly tell them to give us a freaking break at this point.
Even though they were disemboweled for the second consecutive year by that second rate football program, the Hogs looked like a football team there for a while, didn't they? Which is saying something, considering that they have looked decidedly unlike a football team for the past two weeks. Tonight was another loss, but this does not feel like 2013. It doesn't feel like the first nine games of 2014, either. Well, it kind of feels like that, but without the wondering if Arkansas will ever win again part. They'll win again. What I'm trying to say is there were good things. Let's discuss them.
Offensively, things look to be back on track. This was never going to be a high-flying offense, especially after the loss of Jonathan Williams. 232 rushing, 225 passing is exactly where Bert wants to be. The offensive line, with the exception of the absurd amount of holding calls, appears to have rediscovered they are bigger and stronger than the team across from them, and can at least fall on top of them to generate a modest gain on almost every down. I saw a lot of traps and draws that were executed extremely well, and more than anything else, the timing just seemed much, much better than it has been recently. Collins trusted that a hole was going to open at x place and at y time, and was content to wait on it and burst through it, instead of freezing in understandable panic. Rawleigh Williams III looked like what Arkansas fans have been hoping he'd look like, and honestly, what he has to look like if Arkansas is going to salvage its season.
And Brandon Allen. Oh, Brandon Allen. 20/25 for 225 with an interception that was better than a punt and a fumble that nobody will ever forget. What is left to say? You're not a screw-up. You're tough as nails. You don't deserve the shit sandwich of a career you've been handed. But you're not Brett Favre, either. And this team desperately needs Brett Favre right now. Or Tony Romo. Shit, Ryan Sorehan led at least one game-winning drive, didn't he? That's not fair, though. It's incredibly unfair because Brandon Allen wasn't really given much of a chance to win the game. Arkansas tried to run the clock out on the drive that you would traditionally try to win the game on, remember? But he still fumbled that ball. No defense of him can ever refute that.
Defensively, I saw stirrings of a pass rush that has been in hibernation since the Texas Bowl last season. Not much of one, but you could see it if you looked really hard. Run pursuit was fantastic when Arkansas wasn't chasing Kyler Murray, who looked about as elusive as the Golden Snitch. Linebackers are still a problem. They are going to be a problem all year. But they looked better than the past two weeks. Which, at 1-3, is what I'm looking for. Preseason expectations have been thrown out the window. I want to win, but I am going to watch and I am going to cheer even if the wins don't come, and when that happens, I look for improvement. And there was some last night. A little. Here and there. If you squint.
So next week is Tennessee in Knoxville. I will be there in person, and I have zero idea what to expect, other than a football game played by two teams hellbent on killing their fan bases. Both teams will be given the keys to a victory, and one is going to fill up the tank with diesel on accident so the other team wins by default. Might as well flip a coin, because I wouldn't trust either of these squads to put batteries in a remote control the correct way at this point. I'll see y'all next week.
Trent Wooldridge will be that guy with enough bourbon. He loves the S-E-C chant and honks because he hates Texas. He puts honey on his pizza, demands aisle seats, and sees quitting golf as more of a hobby than actually playing golf. Follow @twooldridge and track his quest to transform his five-year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.