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Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014?

Posted: 7/30/2014 11:15 AM

Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Last year was miserable for Hog fans.  Their first winless season in SEC play since joining in 1992.   Two years removed from a top 5 finish nationally, the Hogs fell hard.  A miserable October that saw them lose three games to Florida, Bama and A&M by a combined score of 134-17.  Ouch.  Crapped away chances for wins @ Rutgers, @ LSU and vs MSU.  The QB play was bad, and the defense was weak, especially in the back seven.

Now, Arkansas faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation, playing in the toughest division in CFB.  They draw Georgia and defending champ Mizzou from the East.  Open the season @ AU.  An early test on the road at Texas Tech.  So, are there any indications that 2014 will be better than 2013?  Well, me being the Pork Dork, you know I'll find a few.

Offensively, Arkansas was extremely young last year.  Two true freshman started on the offensive line.  They started a true freshman TE, their leading rusher was a true freshman.  Jonathan Williams, Brandon Allen and Keon Hatcher were first year starters as soph's.  The learning curve was steep.  Most people would assume it starts with the running game for Arkansas.  Those who followed the team last year (which means Hog fans, no one else cared) know it begins at QB.  

Brandon Allen was, simply, bad.  Much of his problems were due to a new system, inexperience, and a shoulder injury to his throwing arm that limited him to no practice time and game only duty for half the season.  The question now becomes, how much was the injury and inexperience responsible for his lackluster play, and how much will a season as starter and a healthy arm help?  If Arkansas can get solid QB play from Allen, they can have some success.  The potential in the run game means he doesn't have to throw for 300 yards a game.  He does have to protect the ball, and make plays when needed.  Bielema is talking Allen up in the off-season, but that's his job.  Hog fans want to believe, but we'll need to see it on the field before we buy in.  Behind Allen is a vacuum right now.  If he can't perform, or if he gets injured again. the hopes for this year take a major hit.

Bielema's reputation at Wisconsin was for big physical O-lines and quality RB's.  He has the groundwork laid for both at Arkansas.  Williams and Alex Collins are SEC quality.  They combined for over 1900 yards a year ago, when everyone in the stadium knew what was coming.  A threat of the pass can do wonders for the ground game, if it happens.  The O-line is young but talented.  Sam Pittman is one of the best O-line coaches in the country, and he's brought in some talent.  This is a unit that will be good this year, and possibly great down the road.  

The wide receivers were a weak link last year.  No one could consistently get open, and there were way too many drops.  Hatcher looked like the only one who would have seen the field under Petrino.  To their credit, the staff went out and recruited for need.  Newcomers will get their chances early.  Someone will need to step up.  Hunter Henry at TE is very good, and there's some depth there. Demetrius Wilson, a Senior coming off injury, needs to contribute.

Defensively, Bielema reshaped the staff after last year's showing.  Robb Smith was brought in as DC.  He mentored under Greg Schiano at Rutgers and brings in a much more aggressive scheme than departed Chris Ash.  There are new coaches in the secondary and at D-line, also.  Randy Shannon is the only holdover, still with the LB's.

The D-line is the most solid group.  Trey Flowers is an All-SEC caliber player at DE.  Darius Philon and DeMarcus Hodge are experienced and talented.  Deatrich Wise is a tremendous athlete at the other DE.  He showed flashes of brilliance in the Spring, he could be a surprise player this year.  Depth is shaky, some young'uns will need to be ready to go.

The LB's are still a work in progress.  It's another position of need that the staff recruited to.  The veterans will be pushed by a group of new guys with much more athleticism. Smith is preaching simple reads and speed, speed ,speed.  Much of the defensive hopes for 2014 rest with this group.

The secondary will also be more aggressive, if Smith and Bielema are to be believed. They've never played to their talent level, they need to step up.  Strangely, I feel confident they will.   Overall, Arkansas was -9 in TO's a year ago, forcing only 14 on the season.  They'll need to improve that stat if the Hogs are to have any chance of a bowl game.

This year could well be another struggle.  But Bielema has a plan, and a contract that gives him time.  The odds of Arkansas ever out-recruiting Florida, A&M, Georgia, AU, LSU and Bama are slim to none.  What Arkansas has to do is recruit to their system, develop the players, and field a veteran team most years.  Fourth year juniors and 5th year Seniors with a sprinkling of young stars.  I equate it to the mid-major model in College Basketball.  If you can't get the one-and-dones, get guys who will buy in for the long haul, and rely on older guys to be stronger and wiser than the other guy's young pups. Will it work?  Like I said, Bielema has the contract that allows us all to find out.  

The talent at Arkansas has some holes, no doubt.  But i think the fiasco of 2013 has clouded the view of many.  Sadly, even many Hog fans.  I think the Hogs will be much more competitive in 2014, with a big surprise win somewhere along the way.  If that surprise comes early enough, it could spur them to a surprising season. I'll go with 6-6 for the season, after all, it's still August.

GO HOGS!!!!
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Posted: 7/30/2014 11:47 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Where did this rational post come from?  Nicely done!
hawg66 wrote: Last year was miserable for Hog fans.  Their first winless season in SEC play since joining in 1992.   Two years removed from a top 5 finish nationally, the Hogs fell hard.  A miserable October that saw them lose three games to Florida, Bama and A&M by a combined score of 134-17.  Ouch.  Crapped away chances for wins @ Rutgers, @ LSU and vs MSU.  The QB play was bad, and the defense was weak, especially in the back seven.

Now, Arkansas faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation, playing in the toughest division in CFB.  They draw Georgia and defending champ Mizzou from the East.  Open the season @ AU.  An early test on the road at Texas Tech.  So, are there any indications that 2014 will be better than 2013?  Well, me being the Pork Dork, you know I'll find a few.

Offensively, Arkansas was extremely young last year.  Two true freshman started on the offensive line.  They started a true freshman TE, their leading rusher was a true freshman.  Jonathan Williams, Brandon Allen and Keon Hatcher were first year starters as soph's.  The learning curve was steep.  Most people would assume it starts with the running game for Arkansas.  Those who followed the team last year (which means Hog fans, no one else cared) know it begins at QB.  

Brandon Allen was, simply, bad.  Much of his problems were due to a new system, inexperience, and a shoulder injury to his throwing arm that limited him to no practice time and game only duty for half the season.  The question now becomes, how much was the injury and inexperience responsible for his lackluster play, and how much will a season as starter and a healthy arm help?  If Arkansas can get solid QB play from Allen, they can have some success.  The potential in the run game means he doesn't have to throw for 300 yards a game.  He does have to protect the ball, and make plays when needed.  Bielema is talking Allen up in the off-season, but that's his job.  Hog fans want to believe, but we'll need to see it on the field before we buy in.  Behind Allen is a vacuum right now.  If he can't perform, or if he gets injured again. the hopes for this year take a major hit.

Bielema's reputation at Wisconsin was for big physical O-lines and quality RB's.  He has the groundwork laid for both at Arkansas.  Williams and Alex Collins are SEC quality.  They combined for over 1900 yards a year ago, when everyone in the stadium knew what was coming.  A threat of the pass can do wonders for the ground game, if it happens.  The O-line is young but talented.  Sam Pittman is one of the best O-line coaches in the country, and he's brought in some talent.  This is a unit that will be good this year, and possibly great down the road.  

The wide receivers were a weak link last year.  No one could consistently get open, and there were way too many drops.  Hatcher looked like the only one who would have seen the field under Petrino.  To their credit, the staff went out and recruited for need.  Newcomers will get their chances early.  Someone will need to step up.  Hunter Henry at TE is very good, and there's some depth there. Demetrius Wilson, a Senior coming off injury, needs to contribute.

Defensively, Bielema reshaped the staff after last year's showing.  Robb Smith was brought in as DC.  He mentored under Greg Schiano at Rutgers and brings in a much more aggressive scheme than departed Chris Ash.  There are new coaches in the secondary and at D-line, also.  Randy Shannon is the only holdover, still with the LB's.

The D-line is the most solid group.  Trey Flowers is an All-SEC caliber player at DE.  Darius Philon and DeMarcus Hodge are experienced and talented.  Deatrich Wise is a tremendous athlete at the other DE.  He showed flashes of brilliance in the Spring, he could be a surprise player this year.  Depth is shaky, some young'uns will need to be ready to go.

The LB's are still a work in progress.  It's another position of need that the staff recruited to.  The veterans will be pushed by a group of new guys with much more athleticism. Smith is preaching simple reads and speed, speed ,speed.  Much of the defensive hopes for 2014 rest with this group.

The secondary will also be more aggressive, if Smith and Bielema are to be believed. They've never played to their talent level, they need to step up.  Strangely, I feel confident they will.   Overall, Arkansas was -9 in TO's a year ago, forcing only 14 on the season.  They'll need to improve that stat if the Hogs are to have any chance of a bowl game.

This year could well be another struggle.  But Bielema has a plan, and a contract that gives him time.  The odds of Arkansas ever out-recruiting Florida, A&M, Georgia, AU, LSU and Bama are slim to none.  What Arkansas has to do is recruit to their system, develop the players, and field a veteran team most years.  Fourth year juniors and 5th year Seniors with a sprinkling of young stars.  I equate it to the mid-major model in College Basketball.  If you can't get the one-and-dones, get guys who will buy in for the long haul, and rely on older guys to be stronger and wiser than the other guy's young pups. Will it work?  Like I said, Bielema has the contract that allows us all to find out.  

The talent at Arkansas has some holes, no doubt.  But i think the fiasco of 2013 has clouded the view of many.  Sadly, even many Hog fans.  I think the Hogs will be much more competitive in 2014, with a big surprise win somewhere along the way.  If that surprise comes early enough, it could spur them to a surprising season. I'll go with 6-6 for the season, after all, it's still August.

GO HOGS!!!!
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Posted: 7/30/2014 12:33 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


yeah, they'll beat the Aggies, not sure who else.  pirate
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Posted: 7/30/2014 2:07 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



hawg66 wrote: yeah, they'll beat the Aggies, not sure who else.  pirate
LSU, UGA, and MO?
***Winner- 2012 SEC Preseason Challenge***
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Posted: 7/30/2014 2:13 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



ALA2262 wrote:
hawg66 wrote: yeah, they'll beat the Aggies, not sure who else.  pirate
LSU, UGA, and MO?
Well, the Hogs almost always play LSU tough, but they haven't won since 2010.  UGA is in LR, that place will be electric.I think that's a game where the Hogs have a chance, but it's in a tough spot the week after Bama.  Mizzou, who knows?  The only thing we know about Mizzou is that Mauk is good.  Lots of things to learn about both teams before Thanksgiving.

Last edited 7/30/2014 2:13 PM by hawg66

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  • bamajoe
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Posted: 7/30/2014 3:23 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


If Auburn actually suspends Marshall for the marijuana incident along with the loss of Carl Lawson, Arkansas may have a chance. I tried to start a thread about the loss of Lawson who I think is their best player, but nobody thought much about it.
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Posted: 7/30/2014 4:09 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


AU in week one is about as good as the Hogs could have hoped for.  AU won't have any film on the defense, and the Hogs have a month to focus, prepare and add some things just for the Tigers.  Still, the game is in Auburn, and they have some serious talent on offense.  Defensively, the talk is about improvement.  But like the Hogs, A&M and some other bad defenses a year ago, they gotta show me.  The uncertainty about Marshall actually hurts the Hogs, IMO. They know what to expect with Marshall, it's a bit of a mystery if it's Johnson.

Hoping for a good game.
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Posted: 7/30/2014 4:55 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Nice analysis, better than anything I've seen anywhere else.  Thanks.

I hate all over generalizations.

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Posted: 7/31/2014 4:16 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Didn't some of the defensive stay leave Arkansas for other jobs? Or did Bielema fire them?

It is a good analysis.The chance of Arkansas not winning more games then last year is very very slim. I agree with Hawg about Arkansas opening the season with Auburn as a good thing. The Hawgs will have more time to prep for the hurry up offense then if they played Auburn later in the season.Plus they play a cupcake after Auburn.
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Posted: 7/31/2014 7:14 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Arkansas is a good example of what's wrong with the SEC.

A team that has the brand, the tradition, and the fans to be a legitimate contender, can't be.
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Posted: 8/1/2014 4:57 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


Nice work 66, you give me hope that the Hawgs will at least play competitively this year, but what a schedule....
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Posted: 8/1/2014 7:40 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



99blackcobra wrote: Didn't some of the defensive stay leave Arkansas for other jobs? Or did Bielema fire them?

It is a good analysis.The chance of Arkansas not winning more games then last year is very very slim. I agree with Hawg about Arkansas opening the season with Auburn as a good thing. The Hawgs will have more time to prep for the hurry up offense then if they played Auburn later in the season.Plus they play a cupcake after Auburn.
No one has said for sure if they left on their own or if they were encouraged to.  Partridge, the DL coach left for a mid-major HC job.  From all accounts he was a good coach and excellent recruiter, probably a chance for him and he took it.  Chris Ash, the DC, took the Assistant DC job at Ohio State.  He won't be calling the defenses, the pay is the same, and he's back in B1G territory where he has roots.  A somewaht lateral move, i guess.  Taver Johnson was the CB coach, he's also back closer to home at Purdue now, I think.

T e coaches who left were good ones.  The ones he hired are also good.  Bielema has the ability to recognize and hire good assistants.  The change in philosophy is definitely real.  Whether he instituted it, or whether he took advantage of the moves to go a different route?   Only the coaches know for sure.
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Posted: 8/1/2014 7:41 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



Just1Hog wrote: Nice work 66, you give me hope that the Hawgs will at least play competitively this year, but what a schedule....
Six of Arkansas' SEC opponents are ranked in the first poll out yesterday. the other two received votes.  It is what it is, an SEC schedule.
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Posted: 8/1/2014 7:52 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


2nd year as a HC in the SEC is where you can typically see what you have and contains the most "improvement" for a team.

Jones and Bielema are on the clock.
I'm your huckleberry


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Posted: 8/1/2014 9:00 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



TallyDAWG wrote: 2nd year as a HC in the SEC is where you can typically see what you have and contains the most "improvement" for a team.

Jones and Bielema are on the clock.
Fortunately for him, Bielema is being timed with an hour-glass.  His contract is six years for $19.2 million, with the entire amount guaranteed.  He could win fifteen games total in the next three seasons and his buy-out would still be $6.2 million.  I don't think that's what happens, but it does assure that he's the Arkansas coach for three more seasons.  If it's still not working by the end of 2016, then it'll almost certainly be time to move on.

Arkansas was very young last year.  They started six freshmen.  Five earned freshmen All-American.  Ten more freshmen saw extended playing time.  Arkansas will be counting on a few more this year, especially at DL, LB, WR and O-line.  They're being looked at more for depth at this time, which is progress.  The best way to rebuild is to play the young guys early, if they're even close to ready.  Take your lumps and let them gain that experience.  

Butch Jones is in a similar situation at UT this year.  At least Arkansas has some experience on both lines.  Those all new guys in the trenches for UT seems like a recipe for disaster to me.  They do have some really impressive looking young skill players.  UT needs patience.  Hopefully, with the coaching carousel they've been through lately, they'll show that patience and give Jones a legitimate time frame to see if he can succeed.

Coaches like Malzahn and Sumlin, who have immediate success, definitley turn up the heat on other new coaches.  It doesn't always work out long term though.  Chizik is the most obvious example.  A NC in year two, out the door in 2012.  Houston Nutt won 9 games in year one, the Stoerner Stumble cost him a trip to the SEC CG.  Sumlin had a bit of a sophomore slump, the jury is still out on him.  Muschamp won 11 in year two, Florida fell off the map last year.

Barry Alvarez  went winless his first year at Wisconsin.  he didn't have a team with a winning record until year four, when he took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl.  Spurrier never won more than eight games in his first five season at South Carolina.  He's 33-6 for the last three years, with three bowl wins and three top 10 finishes.  Frank Broyles had a losing season his first year at Arkansas, Jim Harbaugh had an overall losing record after three seasons at Stanford. Pete Carroll won six games his first year at USC.

In a time of instant gratification, patience, more than ever, is a virtue.
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Posted: 8/1/2014 11:40 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


They can't be any worse, right?

He fixes the cable?

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  • bamajoe
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Posted: 8/2/2014 11:11 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 


I said earlier that Arkansas may have a chance if Auburn were to suspend Marshall because of the marijuana incident. I saw that Marshall will not start the game but whether he has been suspended for one play, one quarter or what Malzahn refuses to disclose. Go figure.

I also read where Auburn lost Alex Kozan who started 14 games last season at guard is done for the season with a back problem. They already lost Carl Lawson.

Last edited 8/2/2014 11:19 AM by bamajoe

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Posted: 8/3/2014 7:46 AM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



bamajoe wrote: I said earlier that Arkansas may have a chance if Auburn were to suspend Marshall because of the marijuana incident. I saw that Marshall will not start the game but whether he has been suspended for one play, one quarter or what Malzahn refuses to disclose. Go figure.

I also read where Auburn lost Alex Kozan who started 14 games last season at guard is done for the season with a back problem. They already lost Carl Lawson.
I love that statement about Malzahn and he refusal to disclose. What did Saban announce for a timeline for Reed ,Ivory and Williams to miss?
Saban doesn't even disclose who is on scholarship or not. Hard to track oversigning that way. Go figure!
 
Lawson will be loss no doubt. But the offensive line will fine without Kozan.
Coleman LT
Slade and Young Guards
Dismukes center
Miller RT (former starter there before violating team rules and losing his job  to Young)
So, the only new person is Coleman and after battling cancer is now a soph. this year after originally signing in 2010.

Everyone else has started before and we have plenty of depth available. Watch out for a true freshman named Smith. He is 6-6 300lbs and is the strongest person on the team.
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Posted: 8/5/2014 1:25 PM

Re: Bielema 2.0 Will the Hogs be improved in 2014? 



Texas95 wrote: Arkansas is a good example of what's wrong with the SEC.

A team that has the brand, the tradition, and the fans to be a legitimate contender, can't be.
Explain?

#WeStandWithJonWaters

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