Rutgers Head Coach Kyle Flood has the Knights at 4-0. He's the anti-John L. Smith.
All night long we waited.
We waited for an offensive pass play for the Razorbacks that ended in the end-zone.
We waited for a defensive stop.
We waited for Dennis Johnson to break a kickoff return.
We waited for Tyler Wilson to return.
We waited for an Arkansas win.
We're still waiting.
At the beginning of this season, we didn't have this game circled. Arkansas vs. Rutgers was a footnote following the showdown between top ranked Alabama and Arkansas. After the last two weeks, this game was a last grasp at hope. A chance to prove to the nation that the name on the front of the uniform hasn't changed. The pride in our hearts is still loyal and true.
We have to wait yet again another seven days to try and prove something, and at this point there isn't much left to prove. The goals to start the season are nearly completely gone. The hope that once Tyler Wilson returned our swagger would return and our team would reign supreme has been dashed.
When Rutgers pushed Tyler Wilson back and caused and incompletion to Brandon Mitchell outside of the end zone on a 2 point conversion it still seemed like the Razorbacks had all the momentum.
Arkansas had a chance to get a safety and blew it. It turned into a 20+ yard gain for the Knights. It continued the story of the night... of the past 3 weeks. The two-faced Razorback defense that could either drop a running back for a 4 yard loss or give him a 10 yard gain for a first down... no in between.
Did the Big East officiating crew call things in favor of Rutgers? Maybe. Rutgers had more penalties, but for less yards than the hogs, but it seemed like some calls went Rutgers way at inopportune times for the hogs.
When Cobi Hamilton broke the receiving record set by Jarius Wright in last year's Texas A&M game, I thought it was a good sign, but I now realize that it was just a sign that the talent level seems to have severely dropped from last year. Is that just playcalling and coaching? I don't know, but Cobi was our only offensive weapon, and exceeded our wildest expectations for his performance in a non-Little Rock game. I hate to see a 300+ yards receiving game wasted in a loss.
Some key things I saw in this game.
Since the Bobby Petrino era began in 2008, the ten non-quarterback players in the offense lined up in two rows of 5 to get the play. Tonight, I noticed that the hogs seem disorganized getting in and breaking out of the huddle. Players bumping into Tyler Wilson as they ran to the opposite side of the field. While this isn't the worst thing in the world to see, it's a clear indicator of the lack of attention to detail applied to this team compared to last year. I think the amount of penalties and dropped passes can be directly correlated to this.
Not just in this game, but on the television set in the past few games, it seems clear that John L. Smith is not very involved with this team's play calling and activities during the game. While that may be an indicator to say John L. Smith is not responsible for what's wrong with this team, I think it is even more damning of his commitment to wins. I saw it on his face during the ULM loss that the Razorbacks losing had little to no affect on him, and his face didn't carry the same anguish I carry in my Razorback heart.
During College GameDay today, someone made the statement that if Arkansas loses to Rutgers the locker room may completely be lost. All the speeches made by Tyler Wilson in front of a microphone can't improve the effort we've seen on the field. During the 4th quarter, on a play where a penalty gave Rutgers the first down anyway, it took 7 Arkansas players to bring down Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison and was clearly an example of lack of focus and a group of players that had given up.