Alabama vs. Arkansas: Not Even Bobby Petrino Can Help the Hogs Against the Tide

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 14, 2012

Former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino
Former Arkansas head coach Bobby PetrinoUS PRESSWIRE

Prior to the season, nobody knew how much this Arkansas team would be affected by the loss of former head coach Bobby Petrino.

Judging from the results of the first two games, you'd think the answer would be "a lot."

However, that's not necessarily true. 

It's hard for any team to adjust on the fly when a Heisman-caliber quarterback gets knocked out of the game. Petrino was successful in a similar situation when Ryan Mallett was knocked out vs. Auburn in 2010, and Tyler Wilson came in and lit up the Tigers defense.

That doesn't necessarily mean that it would be easy to repeat the same performance with different pieces two years later vs. No. 1 Alabama if Wilson is forced to sit due to a head injury suffered last weekend vs. the Warhawks.

Even when Petrino was successful with a backup quarterback, he called plays in the same manner that frustrated Hog fans last week. Wilson threw 34 passes in just over two quarters vs. Auburn in relief of Mallett in 2010, while running back Knile Davis was on the team.

Who's to say he would rely on Davis and the running game this week vs. Alabama if he still had the job?

Quarterback issues aside, Petrino's influence on this game vs. Alabama would be minimal for one reason.

He doesn't coach defense.

In fact, it's hard to tell if anybody on the Arkansas staff does.

New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes was supposed to spark a defense that had become stagnant under former defensive coordinator Willy Robinson.

That hasn't happened.

The Hogs have given up 872 combined yards to Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe.

Nothing against either of those two programs, but the last time I checked, neither of them have AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and the best offensive line in the country.

There's no right or wrong answer to how much influence Petrino would or wouldn't have on this Razorback team. However, when you're talking about how brilliant of an offensive mind he is, keep in mind that he's also responsible for hiring defensive coordinators and recruiting defensive players that have been nothing short of massive disappointments.

It's the defense that prevented Arkansas from breaking through that glass ceiling when Petrino was in charge, and judging from the first two games of the 2012 season, it is still an issue. 

That would be the case whether Petrino is there or not.