To say that things did not go as planned for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2013 would be quite an understatement. The Hogs suffered through a tough 2012 season, but had renewed hope for 2013 after hiring head coach Bret Bielema away from the Wisconsin Badgers.
Bielema came to Fayetteville with an impressive resume. He led Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowl appearances, and had a 68-24 mark during his stint in Madison.
Arkansas fans hoped that Bielema would bring those winning ways to the Southeastern Conference. But, in year one, it did not happen. In fact, the 2013 season turned out to be the worst in Bielema’s career.
The Hogs won only three games in 2013. In fact, Arkansas won its first three games before losing nine straight to close the season. The Hogs were competitive down the stretch, and appeared to be on their way to upsetting the LSU Tigers in the season finale before a late LSU score dashed those hopes.
If there was anything good to take from the season, it was the fact that Arkansas proved that it could run the football on most teams. Freshman running back Alex Collins had a big year, rushing for 1,026 yards and four touchdowns. His backfield running mate, Jonathan Williams had 900 yards on the ground, and also scored four touchdowns.
For Arkansas to improve next season, there are two areas that need major improvement. The first is turnover margin. Arkansas lost 12 fumbles and had 11 passes intercepted, while the Hogs’ defense recovered just six fumbles and had eight interceptions. That’s a -0.75 turnover margin, which simply can’t happen in the SEC.
The other major area of improvement must be in the passing game. Quarterback Brandon Allen completed just 49.6 percent of his passes for 1,552 yards, with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If Allen is the quarterback in 2014, he must put up bigger passing numbers without throwing as many picks.
It seems that there is no way to go but up for the Razorbacks. The Arkansas faithful hope that year two of the Bret Bielema Era is much better than the first.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.