The less said the better about last Friday’s debacle in Columbia, Mo., and for that matter the entirety of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ football season the better.
It’s become all too common for Hog fans to suffer through a blowout loss the last few years, and the 38-0 loss to Missouri was about what one could expect when teams going in different directions meet.
There is no way to sugar coat the Razorbacks’ season. If it wasn’t the worst in the school’s history, it was bad enough. Certainly Arkansas coach Chad Morris had to play the cards he was dealt when he took over the program left spiraling by Bret Bielema. Unfortunately he was unable to play those cards very well for circumstances in and out of his control.
No doubt Morris needs to reevaluate everything about the program moving forward, but with early signing period opening on Dec. 19, recruiting the best quality of student-athletes he and his staff can is Priority No. 1.
A week from today (Dec. 4) former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (6-3, 235) is supposed to announce where he will play his final season of college football. Where the Razorbacks sit in his pecking order is anyone’s guess at this point. Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri and North Carolina are in the picture as well as the Razorbacks.
Bryant has a relationship with Morris from when he was initially recruited by Clemson, but at this point, he has a relationship with the head coach of every school that is recruiting him.
It will be a major coup for the Hogs if Morris can persuade Bryant to select the Razorbacks based on the outcome of this season. No matter how well the Hogs recruit for the 2019 class, the Razorbacks are facing an uphill climb next season. Bryant may not want to be a part of that climb.
Bryant’s concern is being in the best position to showcase his abilities for the NFL. He may or may not believe he can do that at Arkansas.
Having an impact quarterback like Bryant would likely make a world of difference in Morris’ offense, but even with an outstanding quarterback, it would be hard to project anything more than a winning season for the Razorbacks next year, if that.
Like any situation that has deteriorated to the degree that Arkansas’ football program has there isn’t really a quick fix. Morris and the Hogs are in the early stages of a three- or even four-year process to regain respectability in the SEC, and unfortunately there are no guarantees.
Watts’ Work Pays Off
If there is one silver lining to the season, it was the play of defensive lineman Armon Watts.
The 6-5, 298-pound senior from St. Louis was selected along with Razorback offensive tackle Brian Wallace to play in the 94th East-West Shrine Game at 2 p.m. on Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.
Coming into the season, Watts was just another name on the roster, but he worked himself into being the Hogs’ best defensive lineman this year. He made 49 stops on the season with 8.5 of them being tackles for loss. Seven of those were for a team-high seven sacks, which is the most by a Razorback in three seasons. He also forced three fumbles.
Watts simply had an outstanding senior year. Had he played on a better team, Watts could have received honorable-mention All-SEC honors with those kinds of numbers, but to the victors go the spoils.
But obviously NFL scouts took notice of his play this year for him to get the invitation to play in the Shrine game. If he continues to perform there as well as he did for the Hogs this season, hopefully his name will be called on Draft Day.
It’s unfortunate more Razorbacks didn’t grab the opportunity they had this season by the horns like Watts did. If more Hogs had played with his desire and intensity, maybe the season would have gone a bit better.
Arkansas senior Bailey Zimmerman / Photo: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
While Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks don’t play until 7 p.m. Saturday when they play host to Florida International, the Arkansas women’s team plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Oral Roberts.
Arkansas’ women are 4-2 on the season, and only 10 points separates them from being undefeated. Like Chad Morris in football, Arkansas women’s coach Mike Neighbors is in the throws of a rebuilding process to get the women’s basketball program back in a situation of respectability if not prominence.
The way his squad has played early this season, he, his staff and the players have made significant progress.
If you are in Northwest Arkansas, tickets are available. If you have, a Roku device or Apple TV, you can watch the game on your TV by using the ESPN App. You can also stream the game with the ESPN App on your smart phone, computer, or tablet.