Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Arkansas
By Jeff Barlis
Talk about a harsh introduction to the SEC. Nothing dampens enthusiasm quite like a nine-game losing streak, but it was head coach Bret Bielema's first go-round, so growing pains were to be expected. The Razorbacks went winless in conference for the first time since joining the league in 1992. The nine losses set a school record, as did the nine-game losing streak that ended the season. But enough about the bad stuff; there were some silver linings in the Hogs' season of frustration. Bielema believes he has laid a foundation with a handful of exciting players on both sides of the ball.
Offensive MVP: The brightest spot for Arkansas was the emergence of true freshman running back Alex Collins, a speedster who became the second freshman in school history to run for 1,000 yards. He finished with 1,026 yards and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Defensive MVP: Junior safety Alan Turner made huge strides and improved throughout the course of the season. He ended up leading the Razorbacks with 97 tackles, which speaks to the trouble Arkansas had with its linebackers. Turner also chipped in two interceptions and five pass breakups.
Best moment: It's not easy to find one of these in such a bleak season, but the final game of the year showed plenty of promise for a team that could easily have mailed it in. Arkansas came within 1:15 of upsetting LSU on the road but instead fell 31-27. It was a valiant but heartbreaking effort for the Hogs.
Worst moment: There was only one game in which Bielema felt truly overmatched, and that was a 52-0 loss on the road to then No. 1 Alabama. Coming off a 52-7 loss to South Carolina, Arkansas gave up 532 yards to the Crimson Tide. The game was never a contest, as Alabama pulled nearly all of its starters in the second half.