Arkansas got a backdoor cover against Alabama, scored 31 points against them, and had a 100 yard rusher. All things that haven’t happened since TVs were black and white, at least it felt that way. This has been the third straight week of a loss followed up with a chorus of “well there were some positives to take from that”.
It came from media, from fans, and the staff as well. All of these things are completely normal in a total rebuild and restructuring of a football program, but it’s only the first step of the rebuild. As the calendar turns to the second half of the season, it’s time to take the next step in that process and have some of those results show on the scoreboard.
Arkansas gave up 31 to Auburn because of special teams disasters, but the offense was stuck in quick sand. The special teams were still rough but had slight improvements in the Texas A&M game, but the offense didn’t figure anything out until the fourth quarter when it was too late.
Now against Alabama the offense was able to build from that, but the defense took a massive step back. That step back was a little predictable considering they were going against the largest fire-breathing dragon in college football, but still is disappointing considering the offensive staff finally was able to find something that worked and built on it. Something that was a big cause for concern in the first three games of the season.
Arkansas’ next three games are against Ole Miss, Tulsa, and Vanderbilt. Even better is that all three are home games. If Arkansas has really made the progress it has looked like it has in these losses, they need to win at least one of these and in all honesty probably should be winning two of them. Ole Miss’ offense looks absolutely legit but let Southern Illinois and Kent State hang around for way too long for comfort. Tulsa did challenge Texas but their only win is against Central Arkansas (by 11) and are starting a true freshman at quarterback. Vandy is averaging 13.5 points a game against SEC foes.
If the Hogs go 2-1 in this stretch or better it will feel like a justification that things are moving in the right direction. Things needed to change and are changing. 1-2 will be understandable but a little disappointing, and 0-3 will be an abject failure. For the first half of the season, it was apparent that expectations needed to be readjusted. Now there’s all this talk of improvement, and it feels like it’s there. Now is the time where you’re not playing juggernauts, and have some more things to build on. If that improvement is real and not fools gold, it will show on the scoreboard in these next three weeks. It’s time to take the positives and grow. It’s time to start to turn the corner.