Brought to you once more courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito’s Vodka, and English philosopher and tiger namesake Thomas Hobbes, who once described life in the Southeastern Conference without sound defensive fundamentals or offensive line play as [“continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”] Perhaps the next time your team gathers pregame on their opponents’ midfield logo, Coach Bielema, it should be for a reading from Leviathan. Or at the very least a lesson in how to stop a play that 90% of teams run in some form or fashion DUE TO ITS SIMPLICITY.
I’ll be honest with y’all, I’ve had a pretty rough few days. On Thursday a plumbing problem turned into a plumbing catastrophe and turned my neatly (enough) manicured front lawn into a bog, then a mud pit, and finally a scar-sporting victim of shovels and heavy equipment. There were signs that were ignored or treated as curiosities, and the problem went unaddressed. A spot in the grass this summer that just seemed a little greener than the rest of the yard. A water bill that seemed just a little higher than it maybe should have been. Water pressure that facilitated life for my family, but was far from ideal. Things were just a little off, but hey, water was still coming from the pipes. Just one of those small annoyances that comes with owning an old but otherwise very lovable house.
The signs of a catastrophic break for Arkansas had been present all season, manifesting itself in all different manner of ways a few feet under the surface even as the record at ground level appeared impressively green. The Hogs couldn’t stop basic rushing attacks, giving up giant chunks of yardage to quarterbacks as easily as running backs. They couldn’t protect quarterback Austin Allen from a base four-man rush, much less a blitz. They couldn’t line up and pick up the tough yards when necessary, even when only one or two were needed. Statistical analysis showed a leaky ship, but still the Hogs won. Still, my water ran.
And then, on Thursday, the main supply line broke, and on Friday I paid $4200 for a new one. And then, on Saturday, Arkansas broke, losing by 53 points and submitting the most listless and depressing AND EMBARRASSING performance in an SEC game that I can recall. But the signs were there. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. And it will happen again, because my team is the Arkansas Razorbacks. I will pass that fanhood down to my son, just as I will hopefully bequeath this house. And he will curse me for both. But I won’t mind because I’ll be dead, chilling with my main man Hobbes and telling him how right he was about life in the SEC.
If you are looking for analysis, I’m afraid that I can’t give you any. It was the same stew of problems that have plagued the Hogs all year, thrown into a pressure cooker with a dash of fatigue and apathy, then turned on high and forgotten about. When you lose by 53 points, the performance doesn’t get analyzed. The causes of the performance do, as well as the possible effects. When you get beat by 53 points, I’m not asking who missed an assignment or a tackle. I’m asking WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING ALL WEEK? ALL OFFSEASON? I’m asking why we left our battered quarterback in for so long. I’m asking why it took so long to determine that the kicker who’d been languishing on the bench was better than the one we kept trotting out to miss field goals. I’m asking who needs to be fired, and I’m looking at Saturdays for the rest of this fall with a brand new perspective.
Two years ago I watched a team that was in the middle of an historic losing streak go out every week and play their hearts out. They lost game after game, but it was obvious that nobody wanted to play them because it was apparent that every contest would be a battle. Last night, I watched a ranked Arkansas play a game against a team that was obviously licking it chops before facing the Hogs. I watched Arkansas play a team that knew it could make them quit. And I look at the schedule and see two more teams that will be looking forward to playing Arkansas instead of dreading it. And that is bullshit, because this is year four, Coach. Life in this league is short and brutish, Coach, but a 53 point loss stays with you forever. A 53 point loss is so bad that it has Jack Crowe shit-talking you on Twitter.
Arkansas has accepted mediocrity— Jack Crowe (@CoachJackCrowe) October 23, 2016
JACK CROWE LOST TO THE CITADEL AND WAS FIRED ONE GAME INTO HIS THIRD SEASON HERE. AND HE’S TALKING SHIT ABOUT YOU. THAT IS HOW BAD LAST NIGHT WAS.
The only bright spots about last night are Adam McFain’s 54-yard field goal and the fact that last night’s effort can mercifully count as only one loss in the record book. The residual effects of that turd, however, have the potential to derail not only the season, but the careers of several coaches, and the short term health of the Arkansas football program. And our next two opponents are merely a team that Arkansas has never, not once, beaten in conference play, and a rival looking for revenge who will have the services of the best running back in college football at its disposal. The Arkansas defense allowed 536 rushing yards last night. Your work is cut out for you, Coach.
It sounds comical, but 9-3 is still on the table. So is 5-7. The next two games will be tough games against opponents that just received yet another copy of the blueprint to beat the Hogs. If things go badly, road games at Mississippi State and Missouri are suddenly in doubt, despite the pitiful current state of both of those teams. All I know is that no combination of wins and losses over these last four will shock me, because we are eight games into the season, and save for one or two individuals, I still have no idea what this team is made of.
I’ll see y’all in two weeks. I guess.
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 six-year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.