Sully Says: Have Hogs hit rock bottom?
The numbers are sad.
Over the past five-plus years (that includes the John L. Smith year), the Hogs have been historically bad. They are 31-36. It's the worst five-year stretch since the Hogs compiled a record of 29-37-2 from 1992-1997. The only other time it was worse was 1938-1945.
The best word to describe this team is fragile. At times, 3rd and seven feels more like 3rd and 70, and a 7 point deficit seems insurmountable. When things started to go the wrong way Saturday, they had no answer.
The Hogs are now 0-16 in the Bielema era in games where they have trailed at halftime.
I joke that Coach B is a hope dealer. Even he had trouble finding positives in Saturday's meltdown in Columbia. The best he could do was Cole Kelley's 4th quarter performance, which was impressive but did include a pick-six.
This wasn't supposed to happen. This wasn't Alabama, Auburn or Georgia. This was a South Carolina team that got handled by Kentucky and was fortunate to get past Louisiana Tech.
South Carolina looked like the bully at the playground. They beat up Austin Allen and abused the Hog offense. The Gamecocks were one official's reversal from scoring four defensive touchdowns. I'm sick of seeing other teams beat up our senior quarterback. It seems his best throws all come with a price to pay.
Five games into year five and the team is in a funk.
At Wisconsin, Coach B's teams were always good at the line of scrimmage. These 2017 Hogs have been unable to impose their will on either side of the ball.
Offensively, they were balanced on Saturday. They couldn't run or pass. There are very few "wow" plays with this offense. Dan Enos will earn his money this week. I have a hard time seeing anyway this offense can have any sustained success against the Bama D. Based on Saturday's performance, Alabama should score at least one defensive touchdown.
The Hog defense, when they were on the field, was OK. True freshman Kamren Curl, who was targeted over and over, has shown signs of being a true shutdown corner. The biggest concern going forward is how this unit will hold up against the run. South Carolina, which had some of the worst rushing stats in the country, rushed for 159 yards on Saturday. Many of those yards came on power runs at the heart of the Hog D.
Regardless of what happens the next two weeks, I think we will look at this loss as rock bottom. Getting handled by a middle of the pack SEC East team is very concerning.
Hog nation is restless. This tweet from former Razorback star Matt Jones: "Nope.. nope... nope... unacceptable... it is not working... 5 years below 500 winning %... nope." That's coming from a guy who usually saves his venom for pro soccer.
It's fair to question if the best we are going to see from Coach B is what we saw in year three - yes, the Toledo year. The Hogs went 8-5 and were in every game. At the end of the 2015 season, Bielema's Hogs looked like the second most physical team in the SEC.
We were led to believe that season would be a launching point, not the pinnacle of a troubling era of Hog football.
Some say you have to hit rock bottom before you can turn things around. I will be interested to see where this team is seven weeks from now.