Friday, January 24, 2014
Season report card: Arkansas
By Edward Aschoff
It's time to grade Arkansas' first season under coach Bret Bielema:
In his first season at Arkansas, Bret Bielema went 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC.
The offense never really got off the ground during Bielema's first season in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks ranked 11th in the SEC in total offense (357.2 yards per game) 12th in scoring (20.7) and last in passing (148.5). Starting quarterback Brandon Allen never really looked comfortable as the Hogs' starter, and the offensive line struggled with consistency all season. The brightest spot was freshman running back Alex Collins, who finished the year ranking eighth in the conference with 1,026 yards, but had just four touchdowns.
There was certainly more life to Arkansas' defense than its offense in 2013. The Hogs had a talented defensive line, starting with senior Chris Smith (8.5 sacks), and finished the season with 28 sacks (2.3 per game). Arkansas, however, ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in total defense (413.4 yards per game), scoring (30.8), rushing defense (178.4) and passing defense (235). Arkansas was last in the SEC with 14 takeaways (14) and allowed 22.2 first downs per game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Kicker Zach Hocker capped off an impressive career with the Hogs making 13 of his 15 field-goal attempts (86.7 percent). He also had a long of 54 yards. Sam Irwin-Hill averaged 44.3 yards per punt, with 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and nine that went 50-plus yards. Arkansas allowed a league-high 13.2 yards per punt return and 24.3 yards on kickoffs. The Hogs averaged 21 yards on their own kickoffs.
This certainly wasn't the start that Bielema envisioned when he took the job at Arkansas, but the Hogs just weren't built on either side to properly adapt to his style. After winning their first three games of the season, the Hogs lost a school-record nine in a row to go 3-9 on the season and 0-8 in conference play. Arkansas was outscored by 117 points in its three games in the month of October. Though they didn't win down the stretch, the Hogs showed heart in their final three games, taking each game into the fourth quarter.