Although Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney had some positive play-calling moments against Texas A&M, he’s not the appropriate fit for the power running game Bret Bielema is establishing at Arkansas. During the first half of the Auburn loss, Jim Chaney also had some positive play-calling moments. Unfortunately, in losses to both Auburn and Texas A&M, Chaney has demonstrated he cannot stay committed to the power running game. He seems to be more interested in moving the Arkansas offensive into more of a passing team. While no one is expecting him to never call a pass play, it’s vital for Chaney to understand when to employ the passing game. Arkansas isn’t built to be a passing offense with the current players the team has and with the players it has recruited. Bret Bielema has intentionally recruited players for a physical power running game. For Chaney to continue to neglect the running game, especially at crucial points in games, is an affront to Bielema’s leadership.
Yes, Brandon Allen has demonstrated he can provide Arkansas with a much needed passing game, but Chaney shouldn’t get carried away with the passing game as he has. His play-calling has been quite questionable in games against Auburn, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M. In the Auburn game, his failure to make a commitment to the running game resulted in Auburn defeating Arkansas in the second half. On the last play in overtime against Texas A&M, the Texas A&M defense dared him to throw the ball by loading the box with 8 to 9 men, and he foolishly ran the ball and Alex Collins was stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
Bielema simply needs to transition to an offensive coordinator who will give Arkansas the best chance to win, and this offensive coordinator must be someone who is comfortable making a significant commitment to the power running game. Although it defies conventional wisdom to transition to a new offensive coordinator at this point in the season, it wouldn’t be a difficult job to find a offensive coordinator who could quickly adjust to the key principles of the current offensive schemes Arkansas employs. Bielema could even get more active in the offensive play-calling until the new coordinator makes the full adjustment to what he desires for him to do.
Arkansas has proven that it can compete with any of the elite teams in the nation, but it’s unfair for the players to continue to suffer from the poor play-calling of Jim Chaney. The Razorbacks have a credible chance to finish well in the SEC and make it to a bowl game this year. Right now, however, Jim Chaney is the enemy within who can prevent the team from having the kind of year its capable of experiencing; he’s already proven it.
If Chaney does not ameliorate his play-calling against Alabama this Saturday, then Bielema shouldn’t give him another chance to hinder the progress of the team. With Arkansas squaring off against Alabama in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where it’s always a mighty tough place to play, one can only hope Chaney will not harm the team’s legitimate chance to defeat the Crimson Tide.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Arkansas