Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
One half won't be enough for Hogs
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema heads off the field after the Razorbacks' 45-21 loss to Auburn Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Halfway respectable also meant half bad.
And for Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks' bad half Saturday at Auburn requires four-quarters whole Hog correcting in Saturday's 3 p.m. nonconference game against Nicholls State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas (0-1, 0-1), which is coming off a 3-9 season that ended with nine consecutive losses, rallied at Auburn, Ala., from down 21-7 at 13:20 of the second quarter to tie the reigning SEC champions and No. 6 Auburn Tigers, 21-21 at half.
The Razorbacks won no aspects of the lightning-delayed second half. Auburn won the SEC West game, 45-21.
Razorbacks radio play-by-play man/postgame host Chuck Barrett dutifully conjured silver linings among the clouds by pushing the first-half positives to build upon during this Nicholls State week.
Bielema didn't meet him halfway.
"They obviously hear it every day from us but two quarters ain't going to cut it," Bielema said. "We have to play a four-quarter game, and that's on our coaches in particular to get that out of our guys."
Although 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC in 2012 -- as Arkansas was last year -- second-year Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn's Tigers have become accustomed to winning. They won the SEC title while going 12-2 last year,
Arkansas has become accustomed to defeat since the 4-8 Hogs of 2012 lost that season's second game, 34-31 to 30-point underdog Louisiana-Monroe.
Saturday, Arkansas exceeded first-half expectations.
Auburn's expectations encompassed all four quarters.
"You can't just come in at halftime happy," sophomore tight end Hunter Henry said postgame. "We have to sustain it four quarters."
Breathing the rarefied air of first-half success, the Razorbacks then gasped in apparent panic as Auburn unraveled them.
The farther the Hogs fell behind, the more it seemed they strayed from what succeeded in the first half.
The defense, Bielema said, became more intent about getting the ball back trying to strip it from ball-carriers than bringing the ball-carriers down.
"Such an emphasis on ball disruption that a lot of guys should have been solidifying tackling a little bit more rather than trying to strip the ball out," Bielema said. "We got some balls out and all that jazz but too many yards after contact overall.'
While tailbacks Alex Collins, Korliss Marshall and Jonathan Williams netted a collective 25 carries for 154 yards, the strictly second-half stats showed Collins 4 carries for 4 yards, Marshall 2 carries for 12 yards and Williams no carries after his 6-yard touchdown with 4:28 left before half.
"I think we began to press a bit when we were down by two scores whether as coaches or players," Bielema said. "We had a plan that was working. We didn't go to it much in the third quarter and it is something we will take a look at."
Sports on 09/01/2014