Season Report Card: Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas got off to a fast start, going 3-0 against what most would consider less-than-stellar competition. But then the bottom fell out in a hurry.
The Razorbacks lost nine straight to end the 2013 campaign, joining Kentucky as one of only two teams in the SEC to go winless in conference play this season. However, Arkansas did get better in the final several weeks to the season, as they only lost to a Top 20 LSU team by four points in Baton Rouge in the season finale.
With all that in mind, let's grade the Hogs:
Arkansas had a lot of youth in key positions on the offensive side of the ball. Bielema went with a sophomore at quarterback in Brandon Allen, a freshman/sophomore combo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams at running back, and even freshman tight end Hunter Henry was tied for a team high in receiving touchdowns with four. Despite a massive struggle to score points this season, the experience should help these younger players going forward.
The defense gave up over 30 points per game, but there's something important to keep in mind. From September 28 to November 2, the Razorbacks played five straight teams that were ranked 18th or higher in the polls. Most defense would struggle in that type of situation, and Arkansas certainly was no different.
Bielema got the most out of his young talent, and more importantly, this team got better as the season progressed. Back-to-back games against South Carolina and Alabama were really the only two times Arkansas got obliterated. Other than that, this was a team that continued to improve, and that should set them up nicely for next season.
No one expected Bielema to come in and have the Hogs competing for an SEC championship right away. This season was a chance for Bielema and his staff to implement their system, and try to find players that fit that system well. With a solid recruiting class coming in, Arkansas is only going to get better and better. The problem is that it plays in the SEC West, which means it's going to have to make significant strides forward in order to compete for a title. We'll know early on how much progress has been made since it opens up the 2014 slate with a visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on reigning SEC champion Auburn.
What are your thoughts on the state of Arkansas football? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!