Like It Is:

Hogs improved, but are learning as they go

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams drops a pass during a game against Auburn on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams drops a pass during a game against Auburn on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.

Judging from comments, emails and text messages, some fans saw the Arkansas Razorbacks' loss to Auburn on Saturday as Chapter 2 of the same old book.

Play good for a half, make no halftime adjustments and lose in the second half.

Others saw some good things, albeit mainly in the first half when the Hogs did all their scoring.

In the opening half, the Razorbacks established their running game to open up the passing game, which is simply fundamentally sound football.

In the second half, the Tigers took away everything the Hogs did well in the first half and dominated, but overall the Razorbacks looked better and showed a lot of character and discipline.

It isn't like they gave up 45 points to Nicholls State. They were playing the defending SEC champions who lost 34-31 to Florida State last season in the BCS Championship Game, and Saturday's game was at Auburn.

Here are 10 things we learned from Saturday's game that was delayed by weather for almost an hour and a half.

No. 1 Arkansas fell behind 21-7 and didn't quit. They showed the most fight seen in a Razorbacks team since Bobby Petrino took an ill-fated motorcycle ride on April Fools' Day in 2012.

No. 2 The Auburn scoreboard clock and the elevator were faulty. The clock had to be kept by hand and, according to the operator, the elevator broke down three times during the game. That includes once when four Arkansas assistant coaches were in it trying to make their way to the locker room to make halftime adjustments.

No. 3 Sam Irwin-Hill is a weapon as a punter and on kickoffs. He seems to have an uncanny ability to control his punts, and most teams might have been hurt by that. Auburn wasn't so much.

No. 4 There is no easy way to drive to Auburn. The southern route -- to Lake Village and straight across Mississippi and into Alabama -- has too many towns with too many stoplights. But it did go through Starkville and Tuscaloosa, two SEC sites. The most direct route included highway construction in Mississippi and of course Arkansas, the Naturally Under Road Repair State.

No. 5 Auburn students aren't afraid of lightning. When the game was delayed and Jordan-Hare Stadium was supposed to be vacated, only a few hundred Tigers fans stayed in their seats. When the downpour came just before the game resumed, they remained in place and began singing "I Love a Rainy Night" and dancing in the rain.

No. 6 Most Auburn fans are really friendly. There was the guy who forced himself onto the elevator that was being held for the media and demanded that a reporter get off so the guy's wife could get on. Finally, the operator kindly informed him he needed to leave. He grunted, "Now I have to wait until the coaches leave, and I'm a scholarship donor."

No. 7 The weather delay did not help the Razorbacks. It was thought they might have fresher legs with the long break, but once the game resumed, Auburn picked up where it had left off. It also puts to rest the argument that the Hogs' lack of productivity in the second half was because the coaches were stuck in the elevator.

No. 8 Dropped passes still aren't a good thing.

No. 9 You have to have speed. When receivers outrun defensive backs and make the catch, it isn't good for the defense.

No. 10 Auburn's defense looked good in the second half against Arkansas, but its offense looked good in both halves and it didn't matter who was playing quarterback. That doesn't mean the Tigers will get back to the national championship game, or even the playoffs, but last season they improved every week.

Sports on 09/03/2014