Arkansas Razorback Rundown: Will The Real Hogs Please Stand Up?
It is just past the halfway point of the college football season and the Arkansas Razorbacks have the same record in 2009 through seven games that they did in 2008.
That's not what the Razorback Nation was hoping for this season.
The Hogs are an improved team. There is no doubt about it. The Razorbacks are better at nearly every position on the field than they were a year ago, yet they do not have the record to show for it.
For three weeks the Hogs made improvements and had confidence and production at very high levels. Then the Florida game happened.
I count myself among those that took it as a positive turning point for the Hogs. It appeared that the Florida game would boost confidence that they could play with the best teams in the nation.
As the week went on the talk of letting the Florida loss bring the team down and essentially beat us two weeks in a row became the talk. I was not buying it then, but I am buying it a bit now.
There is no excuse for the way the Hogs played Saturday in Oxford, no matter what happened the week prior. They did not want it as much as Ole Miss, and the Hogs were beat in all three phases of the game.
The scoreboard lit up 30-17 in favor of Ole Miss at the end of the game, but the box score showed more like a blowout.
The Razorbacks allowed Ole Miss players to have career days. Tackling was poor (probably an understatement), and mental focus and execution on offense, defense, and special teams was missing all day.
There were drops of sure scoring opportunities, overthrown balls, shanked punts, and drive ending penalties all day.
It was not the Razorbacks' day. Alex Tejada made a career long 52-yard field goal late in the game that was called off due to a penalty. That paints a picture of how the day went for the Razorbacks.
As the players and coaches have all unified in saying in the post game and Monday news conferences, the Razorbacks took a step backwards. For a game that coach Petrino has since said was seen as a must win that is a huge step backwards.
Petrino has surprisingly shot from the waist with the media this year. In the past he was known to be tight lipped, and in some ways he certainly remains that way.
Yet there are times this season he has shot it straight and not held back. Following this loss Petrino stated how important he felt this game and season was to the development of the program and how much this loss means.
That is a lot of disclosure, and if this seems somber to you...it is. There are some players having to try to keep their heads high right now. There are not a lot of Razorback fans pumped right now either.
But if there was ever a light at the end of the tunnel it is that this week the opponent is Eastern Michigan.
Eastern Michigan (0-7) could not have come at a better time. Homecoming week with all the festivities and a drumming of a weak opponent needs to get the Hogs confidence high again.
The fans will get to yell "That's another Arkansas Razorback...FIRST DOWN!" and "Touchdown Arkansas." The players will get to work on correcting things that are in dire need of correcting. Heads should be held high again and the Razorbacks will be that much closer to the goal of making it to a bowl game.
To reach that goal this team needs to get a tune up and fast. There are five games left in the season and the goal of getting to a good bowl (or just a bowl) is becoming harder each week.
The Hogs are sitting at 3-4 overall and 1-4 in SEC play.
The Razorbacks have to rise up and take their lumps in stride and make a choice to win. Winning is not something that just lands in your lap. It is something you have to earn every week.
In the SEC wins do not come easy. The players have put in too much hard work through the summer workouts, spring practices, fall two-a-day practices, and lifting and conditioning to turn back now.
Now is the time for the coaches, leaders, veterans, and team captains to do what is necessary to get this team focused on finishing strong for themselves, the team, the fans, and the program. Much has been made of the improved leadership on this team from a year ago. Now is the time for this leadership to show up.
There is some other good news. The Razorbacks' next four games are at home, and the Razorbacks have moved past the hardest part of their schedule.
However, nothing comes easy and winning is earned, not a right. For this season to be a success and the program to head in the direction coach Petrino desires the Hogs need to do all these things and finish out impressively.
In short: The real Razorbacks need to stand up the remainder of the season.
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