Razorbacks report:

Ramirez ready for physicality

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017
Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez motions prior to a snap during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez motions prior to a snap during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks safety Santos Ramirez is jacked up about playing a key role in Saturday's game at LSU.

The Shreveport native was an LSU recruit, but the Tigers backed off him. Ramirez played sparingly in the Razorbacks' 31-14 victory in Baton Rouge in 2015.

"It's really about who's the most physical this game and who's going to lay down first," Ramirez said. "That's the name of the game. We've got to just go out there for four quarters and we have to thrive. We've got to fight. We've got to finish.

"We can't let them impose their will on us. We've got to outmuscle these guys, and that's the kind of game it's going to be and we're looking forward to it."

Ramirez was seen exhorting the defense last week entering the fourth quarter against Coastal Carolina. The Razorbacks trailed 38-25 early in the fourth quarter before the defense notched two three-and-outs and a stop on fourth down to close out the victory.

"Football is a game of energy, and that's one thing I do bring to this game," Ramirez said. "I have a lot of passion for this game, and you know a lot of guys on this team really respect me as a leader. When I talk and everything, people listen."

Hamlin: Not hot

Former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville All-American safety Ken Hamlin said Wednesday it's important for Coach Bret Bielema to start winning soon.

"He's got to win. He has to win," Hamlin said after his talk to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. "I don't think he's on a hot seat or anything like that. He's done a good job of really pulling some things together. It just hasn't happened.

"I don't know if it's the guys we're getting in or what they're doing once we get them in. But I think right now, the guys that are playing, if they can't get the job done, they need to get off the field."

Hamlin didn't specify which players he would change out.

Hamlin said the jury is still out on the Razorbacks' switch to a 3-4 defense.

"Previously, it looked like there were some issues with communication on the back end of the 4-3," Hamlin said. "You're going to the 3-4, trying to change things up, and you look at the lineup and the type of players you have and think the 3-4 is going to fit. But the same big plays are happening. A lot of the issues we were having the previous year are happening this year."

Hamlin said consistency on defense is an issue, and the offensive success of Arkansas' opponents in the third quarter is troubling.

"I just don't see the passion," he said of the defense. "I don't see the accountability from the guys that I once saw. Just the toughness. I don't know if we don't have the guys, or the guys need to have a little bit more put into them to where they understand the seriousness of the game."

'Microwave world'

A member of the media from California asked Bret Bielema on Wednesday's SEC teleconference why his success at Wisconsin has not translated into a winning record at Arkansas.

Bielema, who is 29-31 in his fifth season, gave a brief rundown of his yearly results at Arkansas before mentioning the Hogs "faltered" in their last two games of 2016.

"Since then, it's been difficult to get back on top of it," Bielema said. "But it's there. There's so many improvements.

"This year has been a difficult year. A lot of things factor into it. But the people here in the program and the people that are near and dear I think understand where we're going, what we've done and how we can get there and the aspects to make that happen.

"The outside world doesn't. I get it. It's a microwave world. Everybody wants things now. So that part is real. But I've enjoyed every minute.

"This Saturday is another opportunity. You go over there and you play well and have a chance to beat LSU, and if that happens good things will come your way. If you have defeat, naturally negative things come your way."

Return to LSU

Arkansas outside linebackers coach Chad Walker, a 2000 graduate of LSU, will return to Tiger Stadium for the first time since 2005.

Walker was a student assistant for Coach Nick Saban's Tigers in 2000 and a defensive assistant at LSU from 2003-2004, but he returned to Tiger Stadium the next year as the defensive quality control assistant with the Miami Dolphins.

Because Hurricane Katrina had displaced the New Orleans Saints from the Superdome, the Dolphins played the Saints at Tiger Stadium, winning 21-6 there Oct. 30.

"That was an interesting deal for me," Walker said. "I always thought I'd go back as an [LSU] opponent."

Walker, a New Orleans native, said he senses an excitement from the large number of Louisiana natives on the Arkansas defense, but for him he won't be pumped up for the homecoming.

"I've got a lot of fond memories there for sure," Walker said. "I think it was eight years of my life. I grew up down the road there. To me, it's another game."

Tiger dings

LSU has been affected by injuries much like Arkansas. The Tigers have two offensive linemen -- left tackle KJ Malone (left knee) and Donavaughn Campbell (ankle/foot) -- who are questionable for Saturday's game.

Malone, who started the first six games and is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone, is listed as the starter this week over Saahdiq Charles, who started the past three games.

Starting middle linebacker Donnie Alexander is questionable with an undisclosed injury.

Old hands

Senior center Frank Ragnow and senior receiver Jared Cornelius will join the weekly radio show On the Air with Bret Bielema tonight. The show originates from the Catfish Hole restaurant in Fayetteville.

Cornelius has been rehabbing the Achilles tendon tear he suffered on the first play of the second half of Arkansas' 50-43 loss to Texas A&M. Ragnow suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter Oct. 21 against Auburn and played the rest of the game. He underwent successful surgery to repair the ankle last week in Charlotte, N.C.

Cornelius has a chance to take a medical redshirt and return next season, while Ragnow has played his final snap for the Razorbacks.

Ragnow, of Victoria, Minn., was named one of 10 finalists Wednesday for the Senior CLASS award, which is given annually to a Division I player who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The finalists were chosen from a list of 30 candidates announced in October. Fans can vote for the award at seniorclassaward.com/vote/football_2017.

Red-zone recovery

Arkansas has bounced back from its red-zone struggles against TCU to reach a touchdown rate of 73.5 percent when the Hogs have driven inside their opponents' 20-yard line.

Arkansas has scored on 29 of 34 trips to the red zone for an overall rate of 85.3 percent to rank No. 63 in the country. The touchdown rate inside the red zone ranks No. 15 in the country and No. 2 in the SEC behind Vanderbilt, which leads the nation at 87.5 percent by scoring touchdowns on 21 of 24 red-zone penetrations.

The Razorbacks are 23 of 26 in the red zone in the seven games since TCU, with 19 touchdowns and 4 field goals.


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