Saturday, November 15, 2008

One of the best weekends this season for the Arkansas Razorbacks

This weekend was a perfect one for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Why? Because the team didn't play. Yes, it's a bye week and the struggling Hogs (4-6 overall, 1-5 in the SEC West) got a much needed week off.

Now, I know it sounds cynical to think it's good when your favorite team doesn't have to play. Phooey on that. The Hawg is a pragmatist and there are plenty of practical reasons to see a week off for the Razorbacks as a good thing.

Yes, it's time for the Razorbacks to reflect on the season and figure out what to do next. Let's take a look at what a rotten season it's been. The team started out by barely beating a couple of scrubs -- Western Illinois and Louisiana Monroe. The third game of the season was supposed to be against the Texas Longhorns, but that was postponed due to hurricanes making a mess of the Lone Star State.

Arkansas got slaughtered at home by Alabama the week after that, got absolutely butchered by Texas the next game and then Florida came to town and murdered the Hogs. Thing looked up when the Razorbacks went to Auburn and beat a team that was ranked 20th in the nation at the time.

That victory was followed by a loss against Kentucky and then Ole Miss. The loss to Ole Miss was particularly painful as the Razorbacks had that game won and then blew it. Also, the Razorbacks lost to its former head coach, Houston Nutt -- a man that didn't exactly leave Arkansas under friendly circumstances (a lot of us can't stand him and we'll loathe him for many years to come).

Arkansas rebounded when Tulsa, a team ranked 19th at the time, came to town. That was a victory for the Razorbacks and it came against an offense coached by Gus Malzahn, the former offensive coordinator for Arkansas. Malzahn, by the way, is still thought of highly by a lot of people in this state.

That brings us to last week when Arkansas lost to South Carolina.

So, what's the season been like? The offensive line has been terrible, the defensive secondary is a wreck and the special teams have struggled. The only really bright spot has been running back Michael Smith and he got hurt in the South Carolina game.

Now, here's the deal with the Razorbacks -- if the team wins the next two games, it will be bowl eligible. The next two games are against Mississippi State and LSU. The one against Mississippi State is winnable, whereas the one against LSU will be very difficult.

However, if Arkansas can pull off two more victories and go to a minor bowl, the season will be considered a success. In spite of everything, a bowl appearance is considered to be a major deal in this state.

And, head coach Bobby Petrino could use a bit of success right now. He inherited a team from Nutt that is shy on talent, he caught hell from the national media when he left the Atlanta Falcons to come here and some sports writers out there still hate him.

It's also a fact that Arkansas fans are notoriously fickle. A bowl appearance translates into success and that will make the fact that the Hogs are currently dead last in the SEC West OK.

So, good luck to the Razorbacks in the next two games. Hopefully, this bye week will allow the young team to rest and keep their eye on an bowl appearance.

3 comments: said...

Regardless of whether the Razorbacks go to a bowl, this season will be a success, in my opinion.

Petrino and his coaching staff have done a great job, considering the circumstances. Arkansas will only continue to get better. Petrino will build a fence around the state in regards to recruiting, he'll get a few kids from the likes of Texas and Tennessee, and within a few years, the Razorbacks will be consistent winners.

As for my ECU Pirates, it was a terrible weekend. Not only did they lose to a crappy Southern Mississippi team, but they lost several more starters to injury, including Harris, the top playmaker. The Pirates are down to their 4th string running back.

All told, there are 14 starters out now, that played in the early season wins against Virginia Tech and West Virginia.


angelinabeadalina said...

Okay, I admit I don't keep up with football, but I have to tell you-- if you lost to Kentucky, then you have been having a sad season. I grew up in Kentucky, definitely basketball country. The best football joke of all time is the one about St. Peter escorting someone down to hell, only to find the place frozen over. He says, "Looks like UK finally won a football game". Anyway, hope the bye week turns out to be good for the Razorbacks and gives them a boost for the rest of the season :)

The Natural State Hawg said...

Paul -- 14 starters out? Ouch! That explains a lot.

As for the Razorbacks, I don't know if I would call this season a success, but I'm certain that anyone who expected great things from this bunch was living in a fool's paradise. Petrino has done the best he can with what he's got and I'm confident the team will improve.

Nutt left the program in a mess, and it will take time to recover. I do believe we have the right coach to make the team viable again.

Angelina -- Yes, losing to Kentucky was rough. That's been the problem with the Razorbacks, however -- struggling against teams like Kentucky.

That's not bashing Kentucky, now. As you've pointed out, Kentucky is a basketball school and that's where the emphasis has always been.