FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After Arkansas 40-21 beatdown of Texas Saturday, Razorback fans stormed the field and celebrated while Athletic Director Hunter Yuracheck put his arm around Head Coach Sam Pittman and simply said, “You and your staff did this.” I was not the best team Arkansas will play this season by a long shot, but the frustration felt by years of mediocrity and ineptitude were set aside as Arkansas had its first sell out crowd since the stadium expansion. In total, 74,531 rabid fans packed the stadium to watch Arkansas welcome the Longhorns to SEC football.
The game was decided up front, and Arkansas dominated both sides of the ball. Ricky Stromberg (Tulsa, Union) paved the way up front, and when he was asked if they sent a message, “We’re just a physical team and were not scared.” Arkansas rushed for 333 yards on the day, showcasing a stable of running backs. A new face this week was AJ Green (Tulsa Union), who had 7 carries for 67 yards and displayed elite speed. Treylon Smith was still the workhorse, and KJ Jefferson strode to 73 yards on the ground. Arkansas spread it around so much, no one back had 100 yards and four backs recorded a rushing touchdown. Backup QB Malik Horsby was told to take a knee and run out the clock with the ball in scoring position after his lone run for 29 yards.
Defensively, Arkansas was without starting linebacker Bumper Pool in the first half, but Hayden Henry stepped up and had 15 tackles, earning him the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors. Grant Morgan added 13 tackles, and Pool had 10 in his half of action. Arkansas put pressure on Texas QB Hudson Card without having to bring additional rushers most of the day. John Ridgeway made his first start, and the transfer showed that he is going to be a tough defender to contain up front.
Special teams have been a weak spot for the Hogs, but they have found themselves a kicker. Freshman Cam Little (Moore, Southmoore) nailed 4 field goals (24, 24, 44, 22) on the night and converted each extra point. He is the first freshman to do so since 2007. He was named SEC Freshman of the week.
Arkansas will now turn their attention to Georgia Southern for a 3PM game on Saturday. The next five games will be the genuine test for this team. They must take care of business Saturday, and then go to Arlington and AT&T Stadium for the Southwest Classic against what will likely be a top 5 Texas A&M team. They will then go to Georgia and Ole Miss before hosting Auburn. This is the grind of the SEC and what makes the turnaround in this short amount of time so impressive.
Another aspect that has not received the attention it should is the recruiting factor of the Texas game. Recruits from all sports saw the Razorback fan base at its best Saturday. Among those in attendance was Tulsa Booker T. Washington’s Micah Tease, who simply said,” Arkansas was amazing!” I believe I can speak for all of Razorback Nation and say, “Horns down, we agree.”
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