Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Some have called for the man on the right (Les Miles) to replace the one on the left (Bret Bielema).

Whoever coaches Arkansas in 2018 has a golden opportunity

Eric Bolin

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

Will Bret Bielema be around to see a golden opportunity in 2018?

This is, by far, the question I have fielded most in the last 10 days. Some variation of: “Who is going to replace Bielema?”

Right now, the Arkansas coach is going nowhere. If his team continues to play like it did against TCU, it’s another discussion. If his Hogs beat Texas A&M on Saturday, no sense in going quite that far. We can speculate and throw out conjecture. But, in reality, it’s still Bielema. For now.

The 2018 Razorbacks schedule was released Tuesday and, man, it’s mighty good-looking for Arkansas. That makes Bielema’s early season struggles this year all the more frustrating.

An average Arkansas team in 2018 — and by all accounts the Razorbacks will probably be very average — should make a bowl. Five straight home games, one of which will be at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, during the heart of the SEC season are helpful to that end.

But for it to be Bielema leading them there, back to the bowls, the Razorbacks have to become average in 2017.

Easier said than done.

Arkansas has to throw against Texas A&M to beat the Aggies

The best skill-position player on the Arkansas roster still is Austin Allen. Even through the senior quarterback’s early season difficulties, none of them change the fact that his talent level, combined with his experience, exceeds anyone else on the roster when it comes to skill guys.

Accordingly, he remains an important player. Not just because he’s a quarterback, but because he’s a great quarterback. He just hasn’t played like it yet.

Well, he needs to Saturday. The Razorbacks have to adopt a pass-first strategy, our Trent Shadid wrote, to take advantage of a potentially overplaying Texas A&M defense.

A couple things go into Arkansas being able to do that. One of them has to do with Allen (more on that below). The other has to do with his receivers. Bielema admitted last week the Razorbacks were rotating in far too many. They are too inexperienced to do that. Everyone taking a few reps is less beneficial than a few receiving most of the reps.

If they’ve changed, and guys such as Jonathan Nance and Deon Stewart show out just a bit more, the Razorbacks can be better in the pass game and have a much better shot at winning.

Arkansas has to keep Austin Allen upright, though

If you watched Arkansas more than one game last season, it was clear the Razorbacks had serious problems protecting their quarterback. Serious problems. Allen was nearly badly hurt more than once.

He hasn’t been that close to the danger zone yet this season. That doesn’t mean he’s come out completely clean, either.

Arkansas returned four starters from its offensive line of a year ago. One of them didn’t make the starting five entering this season. Another one is expected to split snaps with a reserve come Saturday, too.

Texas A&M didn’t batter Allen with Myles Garrett last season. This isn’t Myles Garrett’s defense, anymore. Texas A&M is aggressive, willing to take risks and is pretty violent.

Allen has to live through it.


Tweets and the like

Drone videos are all the rage (still). Arkansas loves putting out drone videos. It even loves animated drone videos. Here’s the latest animation on what Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium will look like when construction is finished on the north end:

The Dallas Cowboys have their own internal show. It’s called Cover 4. And the folks on-air there are digging Arkansas’ Cowboys replica uniforms. The Razorbacks will rock them Saturday against A&M.

On this Wednesday, Sept. 20, we are officially one month away from real, live Arkansas basketball. The Red-White scrimmage is Oct. 20.

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