If a coach ever wanted a “how to” manual on how to not close out games in the fourth quarter all they would need to do is watch the Arkansas Razorback football team under Bret Bielema. Fourth quarter gaffe after fourth quarter gaffe is what defined his tenure at Arkansas. Bielema, who went 29-34 overall and 11-29 in the SEC was a part of a fourth quarter meltdown 14 times in the five years he was the head hog. If he had half of those blown leads back he would likely still be the coach at Arkansas.
After Bielema, the Razorback program needed an overhaul from the ground up from the philosophy on the recruiting trail to the style of play on the field. In comes Chad Morris. Morris, who possibly owns stock in Red Bull, brought a wave of new energy to the program. He also completely changed the style of play on both sides of the ball. With that brought next enthusiasm for Razorback football. He seemed to be the prescription for what ailed the Razorbacks under Bielema or in many ways the anti-Bielema. Especially those blown fourth quarter leads. Then 9-8-18 happened.
It only took two games into the Chad Morris tenure to have a monumental meltdown in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks were doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted versus the Colorado State Rams on that beautiful Saturday night in the mountains of Colorado. They missed some opportunities early in the game, but the game seemed to be pretty well in hand in the third quarter when TJ Hammonds took a shovel pass 64 yards to the house giving the Razorbacks a 27-9 lead over CSU. But as Razorback fans have found out in so many other instances of pure horror the uncle mo is hard to turn once it is against you. That’s exactly what happened versus a bad Colorado State team. CSU scored 25 unanswered points and Razorback fans were saddled with yet another miserable loss.
It wasn’t but just a little more than a month after the CSU debacle that Razorback fans got a taste of yet another blown fourth quarter. The Razorbacks were rolling over the Ole Miss Rebels. Much like Colorado State the Razorbacks held a big lead. Razorback running back Rakeem Boyd racked up 109 yards on just seven carries—tearing through the Rebel defense. It looked like Arkansas would cruise to their first SEC win under Chad Morris. Then Boyd gets injured in the second quarter and does not return. Then quarterback Ty Storey forgets that he isn’t a fullback and gets leveled trying to runover an Ole Miss defender. He is forced to leave what was possibly his best performance as a Razorback. Things went south quickly. The Razorbacks couldn’t keep the Ole Miss offense off the field. Jordan Ta’amu looked like the front runner for the Heisman trophy and Ole Miss outscored the Razorbacks 27-6 and 13-0 in the fourth quarter to take the 37-33 victory. From that point forward the Razorbacks wouldn’t be close enough to blow a fourth quarter lead in SEC play.
For the Razorback program to take a step forward it must get rid of the fourth quarter hardships that have plagued the program since 2012. In fact, since 2012 Arkansas leads the entire NCAA in blow fourth quarter leads. One could write off some of those blown leads as misfortune, but when you lead the entire country in blown leads it can be chalked up to as an epidemic.
For Chad Morris to win some points with the fanbase this problem must be corrected. Morris has done many good things while being the head hog, but the fourth quarter woes must change soon for him to be successful as head coach of the Razorbacks.