(When I've had another day or so to recover from this loss, I'll breakdown the positives from this game. For now, I will rant.)
It is a grey, overcast day in Birmingham and I think that's a direct result of Alabama's performance in Fayetteville yesterday. I'm not one that doesn't believe in giving credit to an opponent for a victory, but good grief, Alabama could've put that thing away twice and didn't. I went with the homer pick against my better judgment (just like Todd did) and was proven wrong. I picked Arkansas to win in my preseason preview of this game and I was on the money with my assessment:
"Insanely frustrating" doesn't even begin to express the emotions I felt yesterday (and still feel today.) I now know what Auburn fans must've felt like after their 2005 loss to LSU. It's about much more than doinked field goals though. The play calling is the #1 source of my frustration in all of this.
Ken Darby is simply not getting the job done. He has 233 yards on 77 carries for 3.0 yards per carry (ypc) this season. If that's the case, why is he getting 20 carries per game? Jimmy Johns has 119 yards on 23 carries for 5.2 ypc. JJ's ypc is over 65% better and he's done it on 1/3 as many tries. He has half as many yards on a 1/3 as many carries. Yet they repeatedly call Darby's number. I know he's had back to back 1,000+ yard seasons, but when you have a player who hasn't even rushed for 80 yards in a game through three games against weak competition, why oh why do you continue to go to him when he hasn't produced all season and isn't producing in the current game?
If the rush isn't working (and hasn't been working all year), then it isn't your bread and butter no matter what your history is. The fact of the matter is that despite a few stupid mistakes (the fumble and throwing past the line of scrimmage), John Parker Wilson is a quarterback that can move the ball, so why not let him move it? Hall and Brown were fantastic yesterday and were going to make the big plays when they needed to be made. If you want to have variety on offense, then put the ball in the hands of the back averaging 5+ yards per carry, not the one averaging 3.
Don't even get me started on the penalties either. 11 penalties in one game? That equals the total amount of penalties in the first three games combined. That sort of lazy, undisciplined play will burn you. Speaking of lazy and undisciplined, what was our defense doing when Arkansas went for two after their second touchdown? Our defensive linemen weren't even fully down in their stances when Arkansas snapped the ball.
3 missed field goals
1 missed extra point
1 fumble returned for a touchdown
64 yards on 26 carries (Darby)
Despite having roughly 100 yards more offense than Arkansas and having twice as much time of possession, you can't win football games making the kind of stupid mistakes that are listed above (whether as players or as coaches.) It's a miracle we did all of that on the road and still had a shot at winning.
I love the Alabama Crimson Tide dearly, but we are in for a long, ugly season unless we show some guts in the play calling department. This team has the talent to win close games and to win big games, but you've got to let the talent play. Right now, Mike Shula is playing to not lose, and we need him to play to win. So, congratulations to Arkansas, but it's time to put this game to rest, learn from our mistakes and prepare for Florida.