One game is not a season.
Everyone who observes Razorback football knows that.
We know Arkansas has 10 more games left to play this season and the outcomes of those games aren’t set in stone.
Well, maybe the Alabama game is, but we don’t have to think about that until October.
So are fans overreacting to the Hogs’ 28-7 loss to TCU?
Sure they are, but that is the role of fans. “Fan,” of course, is derived from the word “fanatical,” so it’s to be expected.
If fans were rational all the time, they would be called “rats,” right? And no one wants to be known as a rat.
The outpouring of passion we’ve heard around town, listened to on talk radio, and read on social media is just an expression of that fanaticism.
Do some go too far, and forget themselves?
Are some immature and over-the-line?
Yeah, there’s some of that, probably too much of that.
Should we as fans comport ourselves with more decorum?
In some cases, absolutely.
However, the same passion that drives Razorbacks fans into a feeding frenzy after a loss is the same energy that whips Hog fans into froth of support prior and during the game. It prompts fans to call the Hogs, sport Hawg Hats, and regale their homes, cars, and persons with all sorts of pig paraphernalia.
That energy drives the program. If fans weren’t in an uproar after losing to TCU in the manner in which the Razorbacks did last Saturday, there really would be a problem.
It’s probably good the Razorbacks have an open date Saturday so the fan base can blow off some steam before getting back into the swing of things for Arkansas’ Sept. 23 date with Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game time has been set for 11 a.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
The TCU game was ugly. The Horned Frogs were better prepared, and they dominated the football game.
The open date afforded Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and his staff to use the game film not only for correction but also motivation earlier this week.
Bielema said the team watched the game together on Sunday and came back and poured over it again in their position groups on Tuesday to drive home the message that much of their play was unacceptable, but also that some of it was good.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos explained Wednesday that he wanted to see more “SEC- level strain” out of his offense and more focus across the board.
Enos said the film revealed instances where a run might have gone the distance if certain players had strained a bit harder, carried out their assignment for a few seconds or steps longer.
Enos credited the interior offensive line for doing solid work, but added that the tackles — Johnny Gibson and Colton Jackson — must play better both in the passing and running game.
Bielema and Enos said freshman running back Chase Hayden, who had just two early carries in the game, will get more opportunities going forward.
Enos explained that senior running back David Williams, a transfer from South Carolina, had the hot hand and was given more carries. Enos said the key to establishing more playing time for Hayden, Williams and starter Devwah Whaley is extending drives.
Enos said there was shared responsibility for the ineffectiveness of the Razorbacks’ passing game from the pass protection, to the focus of the receivers, and to the play of senior quarterback Austin Allen.
While Allen is working with a predominantly inexperienced group of receivers, Enos said there has been enough time for them and Allen to be on the same page. Enos wants Allen to stop overthinking in the pocket so that he can play faster and more fluidly.
Bielema and Enos both said that Allen would work more with the Hogs’ four top receivers in practice in hopes of getting them all more comfortable with each other. Receivers Jared Cornelius, Jordan Jones, Jonathan Nance and Deon Stewart will get the bulk of the work with the starting group. Tight ends Austin Cantrell, Cheyenne O’Grady, and Jeremy Patton are the tight ends that will work with the first group.
Bielema said that Blake Mazza or Connor Limpert would take over the place kicking chores for the A&M game after Cole Hedland’s two-missed field goal from 23 and 20 yards against TCU.
Razorback defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes said he thought the defense played good against TCU, perhaps, good enough to win the game under other circumstances, but that the goal is to play great defense, and that playing good is the enemy of playing great.
Rhodes admitted that safety Santos Ramirez’s attempts to wrestle the ball away from TCU runners in hopes of stripping the ball looked bad from a tackling standpoint in reviewing the film. However, Rhodes pointed out that with the score 21-7 with two minutes left in the game that the Hogs were hoping to force a turnover in that desperate situation.
Certainly, the explanations by the coaches don’t soothe the sores left over from the loss to the Horned Frogs. It might even make some feel worse.
The only real cure is for the Razorbacks to defeat Texas A&M a week from Saturday. It would be Bielema’s first win over the Aggies, and the Razorbacks’ first victory over A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC.
The Aggies play host to Louisiana-Lafayette at 11 a.m. Saturday on the SEC Network, if you feel like doing a bit of scouting.