Ragnow urges team to regain physicality in battle with 'Bama

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (behind) prepares to take the snap from center Frank Ragnow during a game against Florida A&M on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Little Rock.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen (behind) prepares to take the snap from center Frank Ragnow during a game against Florida A&M on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Little Rock.

— Arkansas center Frank Ragnow knows full well there are hardly any - if any - fans and media out there that think the Razorbacks have a chance against No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

He is also well aware of the criticism for his squad, calls for changes in staff, for different players, schemes and play calling after a 48-22 loss at South Carolina.

“I think it's impossible to block it all out,” Ragnow said. “I mean, even if you say you're blocking it all out, you're not. So I think me personally I try to use it as fuel. … I'm not saying you guys are like haters or anything, but just prove the naysayers wrong.”

Alabama (6-0, 2-0), which routed Ole Miss 66-3 at home two weeks ago, is a 30-point favorite against Arkansas (2-3, 0-2) .

“You use it to fuel you and you realize that there aren't many people giving us a shot, so internally we've got to rally and know it's going to be a four-quarter war,” Ragnow said.

Arkansas is coming off an embarrassing loss at South Carolina, which scored three defensive touchdowns in a game that the Razorbacks were favored by 2 1/2 points.

“It was extremely disappointing and I don’t want to reflect on the past much, but that was definitely not what we wanted it to be,” Ragnow said. “Definitely Sunday was a down day, but the way the guys came out and practiced today was really encouraging that we had a good practice today.”

Ragnow is preaching to his younger teammates on the offensive line.

“Be physical, man,” Ragnow said. “You’re playing offensive line for Bret Bielema and you've just got to be physical. You've got to claw, crawl, and you've got to take pride in it. This week I'm really trying to emphasize to all four other guys, man, it's got to be physical. Refuse to get beat. Scratch, claw, no matter what. I want to be the most physical five out there.”

He is stressing that is a mental thing as well as physical and they must work on keeping the quarterback upright.

“It's just a pride thing and making that decision,” Ragnow said. “The refuse-to-lose mentality. Me personally, I take a lot of pride in my last name. So I don't want anyone to ever naysay. And not getting (quarterback) Austin (Allen) hit, I take a lot of pride in that. You've just got to find your thing. Your knick, your knack, whatever it is, and take a lot of pride in refusing to let anyone beat you."

Ragnow thinks Allen, who was knocked out of the South Carolina game with a shoulder injury, will play on Saturday if at all possible.

“I know one thing, he is going to be in the training room treating himself as hard as possible,” Ragnow said. “I know how tough of a son of a gun he is. We’ll see.”

Allen threw for over 400 yards last season against No. 1 Alabama and head coach Nick Saban in what turned into a 49-30 loss for then-No. 16 Arkansas in Fayetteville.

“Yes, it gives us optimism, but it is a new year and you know that coaching staff, Coach Saban and all of them are going to be preparing on what went wrong there so it is time to focus on this Saturday and not really reflect on last year,” Ragnow said.

Alabama is coming off its first true test of the season in a 27-19 win at Texas A&M, who beat Arkansas 50-43 in overtime earlier this season.

“I think that's something that as the outside world you can look at, but the thing is, each week it's a whole new war,” Ragnow said. “Anybody can beat anybody. We've seen it in the college football world all the time. So yeah, it's encouraging seeing how A&M versus them and how we played verus A&M, but you can't really think, 'Oh, they played them well so we should play them well.’"

This will be Ragnow’s fourth and final time going up against Alabama and he knows the Crimson Tide’s defensive line is stout as usual.

“It has always been a challenge for my whole career and I think I am just trying to emphasize physicality and just knowing that it is going to be a war, going to be four quarters and you just have got to be ready to go every single rep,” Ragnow said.

“…They're No. 1. And they've kind of always been. They produce position after position after position freak shows … Hats off to them. They're freak shows that are really well coached. So hats off to their coaching staff.”

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