13 Nov FOUR DOWNS: No. 24 LSU 33, Arkansas 10
Hogs fight for half, but fall in Baton Rouge
By Bart Pohlman
Arkansas lost for the eighth time in its last nine tries against Power 5 competition, falling apart in the second half in a 33-10 loss at No. 24 LSU on Saturday.
The Hogs and Tigers were tied at halftime, but Arkansas couldn’t hold onto the rope, getting outscored 26-3 in the second half.
FIRST DOWN: Hogs show fight, but can’t overcome deficiencies
When Arkansas and LSU went into halftime tied at 7-7, it was probably a surprise to most everyone. The Razorbacks didn’t look great in the first half, but were able to put together a 10-play, 86-yard drive near the end of the second quarter to knot things up heading into the half.
But it was the second half that yet again caused problems for the Hogs, whose mistakes caught up to them as the game progressed. Against Power 5 conference teams this season, Arkansas has been outscored 155-77 in the second half. That means that, in those seven games, the Razorbacks are giving up an average of 22.1 points in the second half. To put that in perspective, there are 33 teams in the country giving up fewer points than that for an entire game.
This Arkansas team just has too many deficiencies, whether through injuries, recruiting or development. The Hogs can hang tough for a while, but eventually, things like an inability to effectively run the ball or giving up big plays on defense catches up to them.
SECOND DOWN: Rushing trend stays true
When Arkansas doesn’t hit the 150-yard mark on the ground, things don’t go well. The Hogs are 1-12 with Dan Enos as offensive coordinator (and 2-16 under Bielema) when failing to rush for 150 yards.
That stat includes the LSU loss, in which Arkansas managed 142 yards on 34 carries. David Williams led the way for the Razorbacks with 13 carries for 81 yards. Devwah Whaley added 55 yards on 12 carries. TJ Hammonds, the breakout star of the past couple of games, only had three carries.
This will be the first season in Bret Bielema’s coaching career without a 1,000-yard rusher, and it won’t be close. Williams leads the team with just 506 yards, while Whaley has 483.
THIRD DOWN: Injuries having an impact
It’s not the sole reason for Arkansas struggles, and to imply as much would be disingenuous. But injuries have had an impact on this team, whether you want to admit it or not.
Losing Rawleigh Williams III in the spring, followed by seeing Ryan Pulley and Jared Cornelius suffer season-ending injuries hurt the Hogs early, and it’s gone from bad to worse from that point. As admirably as Cole Kelley played, not having a 100-percent Austin Allen hurt the team, and Frank Ragnow’s season-ending injury didn’t help an already-struggling offensive line.
Tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, safety DeAndre Coley and safety Deon Edwards didn’t play Saturday because of injuries, while offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Ty Clary both suffered injuries during the game, as did tight end Austin Cantrell.
When things aren’t going well, injuries only make things worse. That’s what you’ve seen with Arkansas this year, and those injuries will continue to have an impact the rest of the season.
FOURTH DOWN: When it rains, it pours
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for the football program, redshirt freshman and part-time starting quarterback Cole Kelley gets arrested early Sunday morning on DWI charges.
The string of bad luck and bad decisions that have hurt the football program this year makes it seem like there must be a black cloud hanging over the football operations center. Whether its key players getting injured, struggles in the second half, mounting losses or now this, nothing is going right for the Arkansas football program.
The Razorbacks still have two games left, and wins in both would send them to a bowl game. But it’s almost impossible to envision that happening at this point.