Hog Calls:

Arkansas alters course after wrong turn at Auburn

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, November 7, 2016
Devwah Whaley (21), Arkansas running back, breaks the tackle of Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) on Saturday Nov. 5, 2016 during the game in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Devwah Whaley (21), Arkansas running back, breaks the tackle of Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) on Saturday Nov. 5, 2016 during the game in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Coaches inevitably tell their teams that one game doesn't define your season.

That's not always true. Arkansas Razorbacks football history abounds with teams mostly defined by a single game.

Bowden Wyatt's 1954 "25 Little Pigs" upsetting Ole Miss, Lou Holtz's 1977 Razorbacks routing prohibitive favorite Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and college football's version of tragic heroes with Frank Broyles' 1969 Razorbacks losing at the last by a point to Texas in the "Shootout" provide epic examples.

On the other side, there is the story of interim coach John L. Smith's 2012 Razorbacks, a teams ranked in the top 10 during the preseason, losing as a 30-point favorite to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock.

That disaster indelibly defined Arkansas' 2012 season, even with 10 games to play. It made understandable the 52-0 and 52-7 shellackings in 2013 suffered by the shambles that Bret Bielema inherited.

But nobody understood Bielema's 2016 Razorbacks getting annihilated 56-3 three Saturdays ago at Auburn.

The Razorbacks went into their Oct. 29 Saturday bye week knowing they had a definition to erase.

"That ain't going to define us," sophomore cornerback Ryan Pulley said, assertively. "We put that behind us during the bye week."

Now Florida is behind them, too. The Razorbacks (6-3, 2-3 SEC) redefined themselves gashing the then No. 11 Gators, 31-10 last Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Offensive line coach Kurt Anderson didn't wait for the Sunday meetings after the Auburn debacle.

His challenge started while still in Auburn, Ala. So did his reminder that Arkansas had won five, two over Top 15 teams, and his line had helped running back Rawleigh Williams and quarterback Austin Allen statistically lead the SEC.

"I brought the offensive line up right after the game in the locker room and told them we can't allow this game to define us or how this season goes," Anderson said. "Going into that game you don't have the leading rusher the SEC and the leading passer in the SEC without doing good things up front. That's kind of the message."

Bielema, a former defensive coordinator embarrassed by Auburn rushing 543 yards on the Hogs, imparted a message for defensive coordinator Robb Smith and the defensive staff to impart to the defense.

"I just said, 'I don't care what we do, we're going to stop the run," Bielema said. "I don't care if we have to play 11 guys ... if we have to play with 12 I'll take the penalty. We are not going to have somebody run the ball on us."

Smith's defense played like it played 12 men finishing Florida at 12 yards rushing.

Frankly, Florida's fabled defense could have used a 12th man to prevent Arkansas from amassing 466 yards total offense and 39:21 possession time.

"We all decided we wanted to come out and prove a point," Austin Allen said. "The team that came out against Auburn is not us, and it will never happen again."

Sports on 11/07/2016

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