Hog Calls:

All of Razorbacks’ ills return for the new season

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, September 11, 2017
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema questions a referee during the game against TCU Saturday Sept. 9, 2017 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Arkansas lost 28-7.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema questions a referee during the game against TCU Saturday Sept. 9, 2017 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Arkansas lost 28-7.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Nothing inflates like a football team that's convinced avidly wintering and summering in the weight room, sweaty summer conditioning and spring and August preseason practices have cured its ills from the previous autumn.

And nothing deflates like a football team discovering all its ills returned in its first big game.

So the Razorbacks deflate like a 3-year-old's burst birthday balloon. And those fans still caring likely wish they could cry like a 3-year-old upon Arkansas' 28-7 embarrassing home nonconference loss to the TCU Horned Frogs of the Big 12.

Instead of weeping, most of the announced 73,668 filling Reynolds Razorback Stadium -- who were shouting their lungs out Saturday trying to rally their only down 14-7 at half Razorbacks -- simply started up and leaving during TCU's game-sealing fourth quarter touchdown drive. They avalanched the exits as Arkansas fumbled the ensuing kickoff and TCU soon scored again.

Probably more humane to leave, perhaps they rationalized, than continue witnessing their hapless Hogs again second-half scoreless. And struggling offensively in the red zone again. And struggling to place-kick again and struggling defensively on third down again.

Repeated failure can shift anger into apathy.

Aside from the Monday sports talk radio wroth waxing, expect a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville football flatline this bye week. The state's emotional needle can't truly budge again until the Razorbacks play again in their Sept. 23 SEC opener against the Texas A&M Aggies at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. And woe to the Hogs if they flatline there, too. Lay consecutive big game eggs and their spacious stadium in Fayetteville could resemble a hermit's wake Sept. 30 when the Razorbacks next come home to the ho-hum of New Mexico State.

Since January, Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his players and staff vowed unceasing effort to cure the ills of the 2016 7-6 season ended losing 24-7 and 24-0 halftime leads in 28-24 and 35-24 losses to Missouri and Virginia Tech.

Well after improving from the first-year 2013 shambles he inherited at Arkansas and steadily improving his Razorbacks in 2014 and 2015, Bielema's Hogs, 1-1, are now outscored 56-0 for their last three second halves against FBS opponents.

Arkansas' 2017 season-opening 49-7 romp in Little Rock over Florida A&M was against a second-tier FCS opponent.

Coach Gary Patterson's 2-0 Horned Frogs, 11-2 in 2015 but a disappointing 6-7 in 2016 including a 41-38 double overtime home loss to Arkansas, arrived with similar vows for last autumn atonement. They made good on them.

Short of unthinkable surrender after two games, Bielema vowed all he could vow during Saturday's postgame. "I think the biggest thing is we have to be the most improved football team in the country from this next week until we play A&M," Bielema said.

Since it customarily takes a nadir from which to become deemed most improved, his Razorbacks have a head start.

Sports on 09/11/2017


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