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Last Week Still Hurts, But Arkansas Can Beat Tennessee

Six days out and the sequel from hell still resonates like a ghost that won't seek the light.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Not sure what to say about the Texas A&M game that hasn't already been said, but I can vent a little:

  • We let that one slip right through our fingers. We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Again. But props to the Ags for accepting the hand up out of the grave these past two years.
  • Remember those bumper stickers from the '70s and '80s that read, "Ask me about those Texas refs" and included an image of a giant screwdriver chasing a Hog's behind?
  • Great games don't count if you can't finish. BA, you must learn to finish.
  • Penalties...some deserved, some not. We've got to get a handle on this if we want to win again this year, much less finally pull out a close one.
  • We need guys to MAKE PLAYS. On both sides of the ball. Dre Green(horn)law will be a good one, sooner rather than later I think, but right now he's vulnerable. That hole in the middle may haunt us throughout the season.

And like the Belgian farmer who noted that World War I at least saved his plow horses some wear and tear, I can point out the bright side, the good that emerged from Arlington. Good, of course, being a relative term, but there are reasons to expect good things this week:

  • We improved, especially on D. Either the Tech offense really is that good (and the TCU game suggests it may be), or we made significant progress on defense. That bodes well for the multiple games left against spread teams. Of course, if you give up what amounts to a game-winning TD over the top (again), it's hard to note full-blown progression.
  • Speaking of, we progressed in the run game. After a shaky start, the OL moved folks off the line in the ground game. And I love Alex Collins. He's no breakaway threat, but that young man puts his head down, drives his legs and fights. As often as not, he's liable to take two or three defenders for a 2- or 3-yard ride before he goes down. Not sure what more you can ask of a guy.
  • Our receivers have been fantastic. If only they'd stop dropping like flies.
  • We can beat Tennessee. A semi-realistic path to six wins remains attainable, but that path includes a win in Knoxville. The Vols are vulnerable, and their collective 4th quarter trigger finger, like ours, is shaky.
  • In two of three losses, we've beaten ourselves as much as our opponents. You're welcome, Toledo. A&M. That can be corrected. Take away a handful of penalties and we're very likely 3-1 instead of 1-3.

Alas, but we're not. We're 1-3 with a bullet. I'm still trying to figure out why the cosmos seemingly has conspired against us. The last decade has brought us plotlines worthy of daytime TV:  the drama around the Springdale 5 and the craziness that ended the HDN era, the infamous Highway 16 joyride and subsequent John L. careen, "karma" and the SEC losing streak...

Razorback fandom needs to come with a warning label. Lately, literally anything could be waiting around the next bend. And now, all that drama seemingly behind us, our visions of continued forward progress heading into 2015 break like waves on a rocky shore. (Hopefully not a rocky top one this week.) Sigh.

It is what it is, I suppose, and all we can do is try and pull 'em through in Knoxville. Not sure how the Vols' own collapse will impact their performance on Saturday. It'll be an interesting psychological jambalaya brewing between the checker boards on Saturday night. What was supposed to be an early matchup of SEC darkhorses instead will determine, quite possibly, who plays out the season and who plays for a salvaged season.

"The Sequel" and its aftermath lingers still, but we appeared to inch closer to the team that left off in Houston. Based on what we'd seen against Toledo and Tech, not many expected us to be competitive against A&M. We were that and then some.

This week, we just have to finish. Our inability to do so in close games is our new SEC losing streak. It haunts us. Perhaps our "2014 LSU moment" for 2015 will come on the banks of the Tennessee River.

And if it does, well then, who knows? Unfortunately, "who knows" pretty much sums up the state of being a Hog fan right now.