Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The LSU offensive coordinator's position should be one of the most sought-after in college football: a steady supply of premium-grade home-grown talent, a more-or-less permanent place in the race for one of the premier division titles in the sport, a fearsome defense that means your unit could, say, finish no higher than 11th in the conference in total yardage over two seasons and you could still claim a role in 20 wins over that span. Les Miles ought to have his pick of nearly any offensive assistant in the country.
So why on earth would he pick this assistant?
Yes, the Baton Rouge Advocate means that Kragthorpe, Steve Kragthorpe, the coach most notorious for tearing down in the space of one season what had taken Bobby Petrino years to build at Louisville. As assistant coaching hires go, taking a flyer on one of the biggest head coaching failures of the past decade isn't going to be the most inspiring choice.
That's not to say it couldn't work out anyway. Kragthorpe had a highly successful tenure at Tulsa that won him the Cardinal job in the first place, and many of the failed responsibilities that led to his dismal record at Louisville won't be issues as an assistant. He also has productive experience as an OC, calling plays for R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M in the late '90s and even winning a Big 12 title in that role in 1998.
All the same, his Tulsa success was built on a foundation of solid defense rather than offense. And when you have as many options as Miles must have had for filling the vacancy, settling on a name so closely associated with the stench of misery at Louisville seems like, well, settling. Kragthorpe's hardly doomed to failure in Baton Rouge -- in fact, the grade of talent at his disposal suggests he could be a smashing success even without much in the way of innovation or creativity -- but until LSU fans see his offense in action, they should be forgiven for scratching their heads.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 8:55 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
No huge shock here, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has made it official he will enter the 2011 NFL Draft. The redshirt junior still has a year of eligibility left at Arkansas due to his transfer from Michigan, but the time has come for the talented quarterback to take his talents to the next level. Mallett made the announcement official through a school press release, showing his deepest thanks to the Arkansas community for their support over the last three years.
"Playing in the NFL is a goal of mine and I am grateful to the people that have prepared me to take the next step. Coach (Bobby) Petrino is a winner, a man of character and the hardest worker I have ever seen. I'd also like to thank Coach (Garrick) McGee for everything he has done for me and in particular helping develop my mental approach to the game. The leadership of Chancellor David Gearhart and Director of Athletics Jeff Long is a model for me and I am extremely appreciative of the tireless work they do for all University of Arkansas students every day. The Razorback fans are the greatest in the country and their support for me and the team throughout my career has been humbling. Arkansas is where my heart is and I'm proud to say that I will always be a Razorback."
Mallett led the SEC in passing touchdowns (32), passing yards (3,869), and finished the season with a 64.7% completion percentage. He is projected to fall in the top half of the first round, including as high as #8 in a recent CBSSports.com Mock Draft. With his 6-6, 238 pound frame, Mallett has the physical attributes to step right in and make an immediate impact for an NFL team. He'll be missed in Fayetteville, but his departure really isn't much of a surprise to Razorback fans.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:40 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Ohio State builds a 31-13 second-half lead and -- despite a safety, lost fumble, and blocked punt, all in the fourth quarter -- holds off a furious Arkansas rally to win a classic, 31-26.
Offense: Terrelle Pryor may never be remembered as the dominant force-of-nature his raw talent suggests he can be, but it won't be for his bowl performances. The Sugar Bowl MVP racked up 336 yards-from-scrimmage (221 passing, 115 rushing), accounted for two touchdowns without committing a turnover, and was sensational on third down, converting multiple hopeless-looking situations into third downs with his scrambling.
Add Pryor's night to big ones from Dane Sanzenbacher (only three receptions but two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery), Boom Herron (87 yards, one score), and the Buckeye offensive line (5.0 yards-per-carry, no sacks allowed vs. the nation's 12th-ranked pass rush) and it's easy to see how the Buckeyes raced out to a 28-7 first-half lead. They had a much rougher second half -- only 110 yards of offense after 336 at halftime, and Herron's safety and fumble handed Arkansas two gift-wrapped opportunities -- but they also never made the killer mistake to let the Hogs all the way back. GRADE: B+
Defense: Start with Cameron Heyward, a night-long nightmare for the Hog offensive line who for all of Pryor's brilliance should have been the game MVP. Then there's the four sacks, the mediocre 5.9 yards allowed per pass play (despite the loss of top corner Chimdi Chekwa to a broken hand early in the game), and the one touchdown allowed over the course of Arkansas's final 12 possessions.
But most of all, there's this: with the Hogs within one possession following the Herron safety, their final four drives started at the 50-yard line, the Arkansas 44, the Ohio State 48, and the OSU 18. Total results of those drives? 39 yards, three points, two punts, and one backbreaking turnover. There's clutch defense, and then there's that. GRADE: A-
Coaching: A bizarre first-half onsides kick attempt aside, Jim Tressel and his staff pushed the right buttons, kept the defense together in the face of multiple injuries, and had his team plenty ready to play on both sides of the ball. You beat a 10-win SEC team in the Sugar Bowl, you've done a lot of things right, GRADE: A-
Offense: The Hogs finished with an impressive 402 yards against the No. 2 defense in the country, but no one's going to remember that. They'll remember the devastating parade of drops from the Hog receivers (six in all, half of them from particularly-butterfingered wideout Joe Adams) , the Swiss cheese pass protection, the wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity down the stretch, and finally the one game-icing mistake from Ryan Mallett. There's a lot to say for an offense that puts up those kinds of yards (including a quiet 139 yards rushing for Knile Davis, if there can be such a thing) and even the 26 points against a defense as stout as the Buckeyes, but as many chances as the Hog defense and special teams gave Bobby Petrino's favorite unit, there's also little question they should have found a way to finish the comeback. GRADE: C-
Defense: For most of the first half, the Hogs looked like the rock-bottom group from 2009 rather than the much-improved outfit we saw in 2010, missing tackles left and right (Pryor is one thing, but when Sanzenbacher is juking his way out of tight spots, you've got issues) and leaving massive gaps both up front and in the secondary. 336 first-half yards to an attack as generally non-explosive as the Buckeyes' (not to mention the 28 points) pretty much says it all.
To their credit, the Hogs responded with a huge second half, giving up just one net point after yielding one field goal and scoring a safety of their own. But maybe the offense could have gotten all the way out of the hole if it hadn't been quite so deep to begin with. GRADE: B-
Coaching: Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson deserves some kudos for his halftime adjustments and Petrino a handful for keeping his team's head in the game down big, but Petrino made some curious play calls (repeatedly asking for draws or screens on third-and-long when his quarterback possesses the strongest arm in the college game) and could have been more aggressive looking for six points late in the game rather than settling for three. Still, the Hogs' biggest problems -- his line's terrible play, the wretched drops -- were more player execution problems than coaching issues. We think. GRADE: B
FINAL GRADE: Games simply don't get a whole lot more dramatic than this one, with the outcome seemingly riding on each and every play in the fourth quarter and momentum swinging back and forth like the needle of a metronome. If this was our appetizer for the BCS national title game, we can't wait for the main course. GRADE: A
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:35 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 11:38 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Just when the NCAA decided to make an announcement regarding a violations-related rule change they made in September, wouldn't you know that a high-profile program is looking into some potential secondary violations. Of course, because that is just the way these things go. Arkansas is currently looking into the situation that led to a photo being taken of several Razorbacks prospects on their official visit this past weekend. The photo could serve as hard evidence that the program is guilty of secondary recruiting violations.
NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52 specifically stipulates schools “may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations … during an official visit.” In addition, the bylaw says “personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g. hotel room, locker room, coach’s office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture.”
As you can see by the photo, ten prospects are wearing Arkansas game jerseys in the locker room. While it is not known if the ten jerseys are personalized, you can see the names of five prospects up above the lockers. Arkansas reportedly received two verbal commitments from the official visits this weekend, linebacker Tyler Gilbert and safety/linebacker Rohan Gaines. Gilbert can be seen in the photo wearing #56 and T. Gilbert is posted on the locker behind him.
If Arkansas does determine that NCAA rules were broken, the violations would be secondary and not effect the eligibility of the player. But thanks to the new provisions regarding secondary violations, coaches are now held personally accountable - and could face suspension. According to the NCAA report, the suspension could be "one or more" games, but it all depends on the circumstance. Head coach Bobby Petrino, recently awarded with a lucrative new deal from Arkansas, is likely not worried about being docked one game's worth of pay - if it even comes to that. (Photo credit: Arkansas News Bureau)
Posted on: December 11, 2010 8:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The rumors started circulating on Friday night and early Saturday morning that Bobby Petrino was close to signing a contract extension that would keep him at Arkansas, and now it seems that it's no longer a rumor. According to reports on Saturday night, Petrino has signed a seven-year extension that will pay him nearly $25 million.
In another tweet from Marcello, it seems that there's a non-compete clause with the rest of the SEC in Petrino's contract as well.
Whatever the case is, this contract extension is just further proof that having your name mentioned as a candidate anywhere -- whether real or not, with or without mutual interest -- is a best way to get yourself a raise.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 9:47 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Arkansas' has not had any trouble continuing to put up big numbers even without leading receiver Greg Childs, out for the season with a patellar tendon injury. Since Childs was injured in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt, the Razorbacks scored 41 on South Carolina in Columbia, then dropped 58 on the helpless UTEP Miners. But heading into a crucial two-game stretch to finish the season, quarterback Ryan Mallett will need as many healthy weapons as he can get. After leaving UTEP game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, there was some question as to the health of tight end D.J. Williams.
Head coach Bobby Petrino said Williams' status is probable for Saturday's game at Mississippi State. Williams is second on the team in receptions behind the injured Childs, so having the senior tight end on the field is a big boost for the Mallett and the Arkansas offense. After Mississippi State, the Razorbacks host LSU for their regular season finale. Their chances for the SEC Championship Game have come and gone, but the Razorbacks are high enough in the BCS Standings to make a case for the Sugar Bowl should they win out. Granted, taking down Mississippi State in Starkville and LSU is a tall order for this Razorbacks squad. But considering their only losses have come against Auburn and Alabama, there is no reason to think that it is not out of their reach.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 2:22 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
49-14 Vanderbilt losses like the one the Commodores suffered Saturday at Arkansas haven't been that uncommon over the years. By the time the victor has finished padding their stats and the usual condescedning platitudes about the Vandy effort have been written, it's typically time to simply move on to the next potential 'Dore drubbing. (Up this week: Florida !)
But this has proven to be one blowout with surprisingly long -- and acrimnious -- legs. For one thing, the game has proven to be the final one of the year for key contributors on both sides, as both Razorback receiver Greg Childs and Commodore running back Warren Norman have been ruled out for the rest of the season with a patellar tendon injury and a dislocated right wrist , respectively. This space has already commented on the impact of the loss of Childs on the Hog attack, but Norman's injury could be an even greater blow for the already-struggling Commodore offense; the SEC leader in all-purpose yardage a year ago, Norman was Vandy's leading rusher, kickoff returner, ball-carrier, and touchdown-scorer.
But at least those injuries occurred during the normal run-of-play of the game (though Bobby Petrino has had to answer questions about why Childs was still playing in the fourth quarter of a three-touchdown game). Petrino is of the opinion that the same can't be said of the knock taken by freshman Arkansas defensive tackle Byran Jones :
For their part, it's doubtful Vandy will be expressing too much symapthy. The Hogs were called for a pair of chop blocks during the game, and the 'Dors are claiming the rude reception in Fayetteville went well beyond the scoreboard :
Vanderbilt equipment manager Luke Wyatt confirmed that the two ball boys (college students) that the Commodores provided to work on the Arkansas sideline required protection after being verbally abused and physically pushed by a member of the Razorbacks' support staff in the early stages of the game.Coaches sniping at the opponents? Season-ending injuries? Chop blocks? State troopers called in to keep the ballboys safe? This is not your typical Vanderbilt rout. And after all of this, it's highly likely that next year's rematch in Nashville won't be either. It's rare that any Commodore game makes for appointment viewing, but that one just might.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:46 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 4:50 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Arkansas ' passing game took a major hit this weekend when Greg Childs , the Razorbacks' leading receiver both this season and last, suffered a season-ending knee injury . According to head coach Bobby Petrino , Childs injured the patellar tendon in his knee -- the same tendon that Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist ruptured the same day , incidentally -- and the surgery and rehab will sideline Childs for 4-6 months, or well past bowl season.
Some fans will likely wonder why Childs was even playing when he was injured; his injury occurred in the fourth quarter of a game the Razorbacks would win by a 49-14 margin over hapless Vanderbilt . And yes, that's a fair question. At the same time, there's nothing about playing with a large lead that makes a player more susceptible to injury or anything; it's just rotten luck that it happened late in the contest and not, say, early next week. Or three weeks ago. Or whenever. It happened, and now Arkansas has to move on.
If there's any consolation, it's that the injury likely derails any hope Childs might have had of declaring early for the NFL draft. Childs has prototypical size and speed, but if he can't run at 100% at the combine, there's really no sense in beginning the pro process at that point. As for his collegiate career, spring ball is probably out of the question, but Childs doesn't need those reps as much as the younger players anyway; his on-field abilities are well-established as it is. By the time Childs gets through summer and fall practices, he should be 100% full speed for Week 1, and that'll be bad news for the rest of the SEC next season.