In the last two seasons Arkansas has been able to put together a good run from November on through a bowl game. Bill Connelly points out in his preview of the 2016 Razorbacks that:
How great would it be to nail down a clean September run, which would then snowball into the last two months of SEC play? Even a tough loss against an Alabama or Florida along the way would be easier to stomach if they are able to get a rolling start early in the season.
Quick breakdown by Connelly:
2016 projected wins: 7.3
Projected S&P+ ranking: 17 (6 in SEC)
5-year recruiting ranking: 31 (11 in SEC)
Biggest strength: Strangely enough, it could be the passing game. This receiving corps is loaded.
Biggest question mark: The pass defense got absolutely abused by good quarterbacks last year and features one of the few questionable safety units in the SEC.
Biggest 2016 game: Take your pick. Arkansas faces five games with win probability between 46 and 56 percent. We'll say the first (at TCU, Sept. 10) is the biggest and go from there.
By October last season Bielema corrected the course. Wins over Tennessee and Auburn, along with a close loss to eventual Champion Alabama erased the memory of those early season struggles. It is hard to believe that he will not have a team that is ready early again, if anything it may be that this team peaks too early this time.
So would it be too much to ask for the coaching staff and Jeff Long to just turn everything around this team to replicate November? Change all the calendars to the 11th month, serve turkey and dressing every week, or dump loads of fallen leaves around campus. Maybe start the no-shave November theme early this year, or have a Halloween themed game Week 1 vs Louisiana Tech? Crazier gimmicks have worked in the past, just ask Houston Nutt.
But really, it seems the team’s peak will come whenever the offensive line is gelled. Since the coaches are still figuring out who will play where, we’ll wait to see when that will happen and hope it’s sooner rather than later.
I am hoping that November comes early in 2016. And that the Hog’s are rolling into Razorback Stadium with one loss or less against Alabama with the same late season swagger that developed last year and in 2014. It’s all about mentality (well maybe gameplan, player development, etc) but if we all think it is November just maybe there will be a different early season outcome.