If there is one piece of the puzzle which has cost Arkansas dearly all season long, it’s the rushing defense. The holes for opposing running backs have been gaping, large enough to fit cars through, let alone a person.
Opponents often reach the second and third levels of the defense with ease. Other times it comes down to missed tackles or assignments. But how bad is it really? It’s one of the worst of the past decade according to cfbstats.com
The Razorbacks are averaging 6.34 yards per carry allowed this season through 10 games. If the season ended last Saturday, it would rank 1,110 out of 1,113 FBS teams in the last nine seasons (H/t Andrew Hutchinson.)
Only three teams have been worse over that span of time: 2015 Eastern Michigan, 2013 Nevada and 2013 New Mexico State. Another way to read it would be they’re the worst rushing defense in a Power 5 conference in the last nine years.
It hasn’t all been horrible for the Arkansas defense. In fact, there are some pretty incredible anomalies. The Razorbacks held Florida to 12 rushing yards on 14 carries. Texas State ran the ball 26 times for 22 yards. Yet, they have given up so much to the rest of their schedule that it more than makes up for those numbers.
The worst exploitation came at Auburn in a 56-3 loss. Arkansas allowed 543 yards on the ground on 57 carries. Texas A&M racked up 366 yards on 37 carries. Saturday, Darius Guice and Leonard Fournette combined for 390 yards on 51 carries. In each of those three games, opponents averaged over seven yards per carry.
In perspective, Alabama has allowed only 145 more yards all season than Arkansas did against Auburn. Arkansas is also tied for second most touchdowns allowed in all of the FBS this season.
This is certainly something head coach Bret Bielema will have to address in the offseason.