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Let’s Reflect: Arkansas Football

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Taking a look back at the past, the present and future of the 2021 Arkansas football season

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-Season:

Arkansas football is on the rise. Everyone is hearing the chatter of Arkansas being a better team, maybe the best one we’ve had in quite awhile. Obviously the fan base is eager to win, Chad Morris’ era is still fresh on the mind. The 2020 season wasn’t pretty, but with an all SEC schedule, the small victories were soaked in heavily.

How good is KJ Jefferson going to be? We have seen glimpses of the future likely starter, but nothing solidifying for our minds to ease. Is Treylon Burks going to reach new heights in an already elite talent category? What will these fresh defensive transfers in Tre Williams, Markell Utsey and John Ridgeway do for the Hogs?

Once fall camp rounded out, there were some concerns of injuries and just how good Arkansas could really be. Trelon Smith and Burks both had nagging injuries. The unknowns never settled before the first game, but word on the street continued to sound bright for the Razorbacks.

First Game:

It was a rough showing against Rice, but Arkansas still managed to win with a convincing 38-17 victory. First game jitters likely didn’t help and week one games are usually rough for most teams. While some of the national media seemed to dismiss the Hogs, the fan base held true.

We knew going into the Texas game at home, we had a great shot.

Glory Days:

The mood moving into the Texas game was wild. Everyone in this state likely heard at least one conversation that week about the big game. After a shaky week one start, everyone had one question on their mind.

“Can Arkansas make that next step”

Boy did we ever. Arkansas destroyed top 15 ranked Texas in front of a wild crowd in Fayetteville. The game was like a dream scenario for a fan base who was HUNGRY to beat their chest. KJ Jefferson continued to show consistency at the quarterback position, hushing the naysayers.

I’ll be honest, I probably watched the Texas game highlights 20 times.

After convincing victories against Georgia Southern and top 10 ranked Texas A&M, the hype was real in the state of Arkansas. First 4-0 start since 2003, are you serious? Sam Pittman is in year two and has made some immaculate strides, this was a must win hire that has went above and beyond.

Now all eyes are set on Georgia with a huge showdown in Athens.

Tough Times:

College Gameday, a top ten matchup and all the hype in the world. Georgia and Arkansas was one of the most viewed college football games of the season to that point. Can you believe there was talk of Arkansas being considered a top team in the country? Every fan was asking themselves, are we for real?

Georgia embarrassed Arkansas, it was a moment we weren’t ready for. Although it stung, this experience was important in my opinion for this team (and program in general) to grow. Sam Pittman returned to Fayetteville to motivate his team and prepare them for another road game at Ole Miss.

The trip to Oxford was wild, but the outcome wasn’t what Arkansas fans wanted. 52-51 with a failed two point play to win stung. Two weeks in a row, we were left with a bad taste in our mouth.

Both Georgia and Ole Miss also had great success against a previously touted Arkansas defense. This is concerning moving forward, but let’s remember who our opponents were. Ole Miss and Georgia will score points on many teams, not just the Razorbacks.

The Future:

As I set in my kitchen typing this article, I’m happy knowing how much more fun it is to be relevant in college football. Sure, we’ve lost two in a row.

MANY teams will lose to Georgia and Ole Miss. Arkansas is growing and I truly believe they get better each week as they find their way. Auburn will play a well rounded Razorback team on Saturday at 11 AM, I think Arkansas also takes out their frustration on a team that stole a victory from them last season.

Aside from Alabama being an extremely tough road game, I think every game is winnable for the Hogs moving forward. This could obviously change with any significant injuries. Many people doubted 9 wins given our schedule, but that goal is still achievable.

Man, how times have changed.

(As always, thank you for reading. Be sure to follow me over on Twitter too! Just search @wxzachary.)