It’s been a rough year for the Razorbacks on the gridiron and a major reason for that has been the Robb Smith defense.
Going into Auburn, many were wondering how the Hogs could be the underdog. Even I, who normally am really realistic and honest about my team, thought we would beat them. I couldn’t have been more wrong about this game.
Arkansas was flat out uncompetitive at Jordan-Hare. The defense, led by defensive coordinator Robb Smith, fell flat on its face again. This isn’t new to a lot of fans who have watched this year. Make no mistake, however, it hasn’t just been this year. The defense struggled handily last year as well, the Hogs just had a solid offense to outscore their opponents.
Robb Smith is currently the highest paid assistant on the staff. To put it very bluntly, Arkansas is getting a bad deal here. The product doesn’t come close to matching the price.
Bielema On The Edge
If you watch every press conference from Bielema like I and many others do, you will notice a trend. One thing he continues to talk about is the failure to set the edges.
"“When you don’t have an edge you don’t have a defense.” Bielema said in his post game presser after Auburn.“Setting the edge” – Bielema when asked what was wrong with the defense in the loss to Alabama."
The edges have been a problem all year for the defense. It’s the main reason Arkansas is giving up GIGANTIC chunks of yards on the run. Auburn averaged 9.5 yards per carry and got more than five, 20+ yard plays with five different players. So the argument that one or two players on the team are just that good goes out the window here. Arkansas gave up the most rushing yards in a single game in school history to Auburn.
Arkansas currently ranks 111 out of 128 in the nation in rushing defense. Ole Miss is the only team below the Hogs, from the SEC, at 113. To put it into perspective, Mississippi State, who is at the bottom of the west, and MIZZOU who is at the bottom of the entire SEC, have a better run defense than the Hogs. This defense has already given up more rushing yards than they did the past two seasons and is on track to be the past three
Changes Will Come
Head coach, Bret Bielema, is in his 4th year at Arkansas and is still struggling mightily. In front of him lies two choices. The first, he can keep Robb Smith and continue this trend downward for his team. This choice will more than likely put his team close to the bottom of the SEC in defense again and still end in Smith gone at the end of the year.
His second choice is to cut his losses now and see what can be done with this defensive unit going into the final games of the year. Who are you going to get to replace him? Well, as an interim, Paul Rhoads will probably be put in charge. Rhoads wouldn’t be a bad choice at all given the current situation of the team.
Either way, it has to happen and there is no way around it. Arkansas is getting ripped off by Robb Smith and it’s very clear Bielema knows it. Mississippi State held this exact same Auburn team to 38 points. The Hogs performance this game and the games prior, are inexcusable. Changes will come, one way or another. Woo Pig.