Brought to you once more courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito’s Vodka, and the steadfast refusal of the 2016 Arkansas Razorbacks to be exciting or noteworthy in any way. When Arkansas failed this season, they did so spectacularly. When Arkansas succeeded, victories still came with a sense of foreboding. And when presented with the few opportunities they would have to make this season more than what it was destined to be, the Hogs too often watched the pitch without picking the bat up off of their shoulder. A consistent, predictably atrocious defense paired with an explosive offense that too often sputtered from the wet fuses of untimely penalties and apathetic playcalling ultimately resulted in a season to forget. The 7-5 (3-5) slog bled this fan base (or at least this fan) of enthusiasm and optimism with more efficiency than a cold set of dice, and yesterday’s Battle Line Rivalry wrapped the whole thing up with a neat and tidy bow and heartfelt card.
TO: Arkansas Fans
FROM: The Hogs
There’s no point in discussing anything other than the second half of the Missouri game, because the first half doesn’t matter in a game such as yesterday’s. The first half only established that what Arkansas was there to take really was there for the taking. The Hogs were seeking to improve their regular season record for the third consecutive year, and were facing an opponent with nothing to play for, whose fans couldn’t be bothered to watch.
And Arkansas blew it.
Arkansas squandered a 24-7 halftime lead and lost 28-24 because the Hogs couldn’t muster a single, solitary point in the second half against a team that Tennessee scored 63 points on just one week ago. They squandered a 24-7 halftime lead and lost 28-24 because the defense allowed Missouri to convert on third or fourth down at a 70% clip in the second half. Because Austin Allen threw two red zone interceptions. Because Dan Skipper held on 1st and Goal from the Missouri 9 yard line.
Because Arkansas got drawn offside on 4th and 1, allowing Missouri to extend a drive that ended in a Tiger touchdown.
Because Arkansas allowed Missouri to convert a 3rd and 11 AND a 3rd and 15 during their first possession of the second half.
Because Arkansas allowed Missouri to fake a punt from their own end zone, and then score a touchdown two plays later.
Because Arkansas had a 13 play, nearly eight minute drive in the third quarter that resulted in zero points.
Because Arkansas had 18 rushing attempts for a total of 35 yards in the second half.
Because Arkansas allowed three separate Missouri passes of more than 40 yards in the second half.
Because Bret Bielema got outcoached by Barry Odom.
Because, yet again, heart, and grit, and physicality, the things that this fan base has been told will be strengths of Arkansas under Bret Bielema, were exposed as weaknesses.
Because why not close a forgettable season with the most forgettable performance to date. At least the other embarrassments came against good teams. At least they came against teams with something to play for.
Yesterday should have been an embarrassment. I should have been outraged, but I wasn’t. It was just another temporary disappointment, another foolish bet wasted, another three hour block of time surrounded by loving family and strong drinks and lively conversation that would have only been made better with the television off. I have been a supporter of Bret Bielema since he has been here, and I am not selling on him just yet, but this season was a dud. As with any season, I’ve cherished the high points and favorite players, but try as I might, I never fully bought in, because I was never given a reason to. Yesterday, Arkansas was held scoreless in the last half of the last game of the season, in a half empty stadium against a 3-8 opponent, and I really don’t even care that much.
That’s a problem, Coach.
I’ll see y’all next time.
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.