Trent Shadid/SEC Country
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow is an All-SEC lock.

Arkansas has one lock for All-SEC: Frank Ragnow — see how I voted

Eric Bolin

With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

One Arkansas football player is a lock to make the preseason All-SEC teams announced later this week.

Only one.

Razorbacks center Frank Ragnow isn’t just the best center in the conference. He’s the best offensive lineman. Honestly, Ragnow might be the best player, period. If he isn’t first team, it’s simple ignorance. Arkansas isn’t as nationally relevant as Alabama or LSU, so Will Clapp or Bradley Bozeman may get more votes.

Incorrectly. They’d get more votes incorrectly. Ragnow is the best center, best offensive lineman, best player in the league.

The thing is, the Razorbacks don’t have anyone else who definitely will make it.

Quarterback Austin Allen should. Second team at worst. I don’t think it’ll happen, though. Jalen Hurts will get the Deep South vote. And I tend to think Jacob Eason will get a few votes from the SEC East writers.

Guard Hjalte Froholdt has a shot. He shouldn’t, but he does. The reason? Phil Steele named him *first-team* preseason All-SEC in his magazine. Believe me when I say a good third of the people casting ballots in SEC Media Days simply use Steele’s magazine as a reference.

A choice I made but one that isn’t likely to land: Ryan Pulley. The cornerback can be a legit shutdown guy on the outside.

After that, pickings are slim. Dre Greenlaw could garner some votes, but that’d be unusual, given he didn’t play most of last season. McTelvin Agim might earn some votes from Arkansas media folks in a year SEC front lines are down defensively. Jared Cornelius could have a chance as an established wide receiver.

Doubtful, however, they make it. They didn’t on mine.

Allen and Ragnow, though? You bet your bottom dollar.

How I voted

  • QB: Austin Allen, Nick Fitzgerald
  • RB: Derrius Guice, Kerryon Johnson, Benny Snell, Ralph Webb
  • WR: Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Antonio Callaway, Donald Gray
  • TE: Hayden Hurst, DeAndre Goolsby
  • OT/OG: Braden Smith, Martez Ivey, Ross Pierschbacher, Jonah Williams, Isaiah Wynn, Martinas Rankin, Darius James, Erik McCoy
    C: Frank Ragnow, Will Clapp
  • DL: Marquis Haynes, Trenton Thompson, Da’Ron Payne, Zaycoven Henderson, Jabari Zuniga, Denzil Ware, Da’Shawn Hand, Taylor Stallworth
  • LB: Arden Key, Jordan Jones, Rashaan Evans, Skai Moore, Leo Lewis, Roquan Smith
  • DB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett, Carlton Davis, Ronnie Harrison, Ryan Pulley, Dominick Sanders, Duke Dawson, Armani Watts
  • K: Daniel Carlson, Gary Wunderlich
  • P: JK Scott, Johnny Townsend
  • Returner: Evan Berry, Kirk
  • All-Purpose: Kirk, Johnson

Bret Bielema finally admits it — Arkansas’ O-line stunk last season

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema spent virtually the entire football season insisting weekly that the Razorbacks offensive line wasn’t as bad as we in the media thought it was.

To say it became frustrating would be a wild understatement.

A few days after the Texas A&M loss — during which Allen had to be pried off the AT&T Stadium turf time after time and even left at one point in the first half — Bielema said: “I don’t believe we gave up a sack until the fourth quarter. … We did a really nice job in the first half. We were whacking those D-ends every way known to man, getting a lot of people involved and really embracing it and having a lot of fun with it. The kids were enjoying the plan and went out and executed it.”

It also should be noted that the Arkansas O-line was bad in the run game, too. The Hogs ran 17 plays inside the Texas A&M 10-yard line. Ten were rushes, and on those plays, they gained a net of 4 yards.

After the Hogs’ disastrous 56-3 loss at Auburn, the Arkansas defense rightly received the bulk of the blame. But ,again, defenders tormented Allen the entire game. He left this game, too, after a big hit.

Asked about his O-line in the postgame news conference, Bielema said, “When the game got a little bit out of hand, that’s when the rushing numbers got a little bit skewed.”

Essentially, his argument was that Arkansas was forced into passing the ball more than it wanted to and that’s why the rushing numbers went down and the sack numbers went up. Of course, that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny because Allen was sacked 3 times in the first quarter alone. Also, the Hogs’ longest run for the entire game was an 11-yard Allen scramble that ended in a fumble. They finished with 31 rushes and a 0.8 per-carry average.

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Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson had a rough start to last season. (Jason Kersey/SEC Country)

For the season, Allen was pressured 145 times — most in the SEC — and the Hogs O-line allowed a stunning 35 sacks. The Razorbacks also ranked 77th in the country in rushing offense, by far the lowest a Bielema-coached team has ever ranked in that category. (Side note: That fact makes Rawleigh Williams’  2016 season all the more impressive.) 

At one point during the season, Bielema sarcastically told reporters, “I know some of you guys think you’ve got it figured out,” regarding the offensive line.

On Monday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Bielema finally admitted that his 2016 O-line wasn’t very good.

“One of the major issues with us last year in protection and taking care of our quarterback and being able to run a football is we did not have enough SEC-quality offensive linemen in our program,” Bielema said Monday.

I’m sure part of Bielema’s reason for talking the way he did about his offensive line last season was him trying to keep them encouraged and motivated. And that’s fine. But it’s nice to finally hear him say what media, fans and — clearly — opponents knew all along: As a unit, the Arkansas offensive line stunk last season.

I guess we had it figured out, after all.

Note: The above item was written by SEC Country’s Jason Kersey

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.