Week 2 progress goes undetected for Razorbacks

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, September 11, 2017
TCU Horned Frogs vs Arkansas Razorbacks – Santos Ramirez (9) of the Razorbacks intercepts the ball from the Horned Frogs at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
Photo by David Beach
TCU Horned Frogs vs Arkansas Razorbacks – Santos Ramirez (9) of the Razorbacks intercepts the ball from the Horned Frogs at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Football coaches love to talk about how a team makes its most improvement between the first and second games.

Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema said it after his team opened with a 49-7 victory over Florida A&M.

"As coaches we always talk about the improvement between game one and game two," Bielema said. "And we're going to need that."

The Razorbacks didn't get it.

TCU beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in all phases to win 28-7 Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Now Bielema and his assistant coaches have a new mantra: make a quantum leap between the second and third games.

Arkansas has an extra week to work on its issues against TCU because the Razorbacks have an open date before taking on Texas A&M Sept. 23 in Arlington, Texas.

"We'll really take self-inventory," Bielema said. "I think the biggest thing is we've got to be the most improved football team in the country from next week until we play Texas A&M."

The Aggies (1-1) have problems of their own after blowing a 34-point lead in the third quarter and losing at UCLA 45-44 and struggling to beat Nicholls State 24-14.

Texas A&M, which hosts Louisana-Lafayette on Saturday, runs a spread hurry-up offense as does TCU, so there will be some carryover from the Razorbacks' preparation.

"Get a lot better at the details," Bielema said of what the focus will be in practice. "Especially in the critical moments."

Some boos were heard from the sellout crowd announced at 73,668 for the Arkansas-TCU game.

"You've got to take it as a man, each one of us," Arkansas center Frank Ragnow said. "I know that we'll have doubters and people maybe on the outside that don't believe in us, so we've got to rally as a group.

"I think the A&M game is going to really show how we respond to this disappointing game."

Safety Santos Ramirez said it's critical for the Razorbacks to learn from the TCU game, but put it behind them quickly.

"We can't allow this loss to get us down for the rest of the season," Ramirez said. "We've got to use this as an example of what not to do for the rest of the season.

"We expected to come out here and get a win, but we didn't. Now it's time to move forward and start preparing for Texas A&M.

"We've got a big game ahead of us in two weeks and we're going to be ready for that challenge."

Arkansas has a long to-do list in practice after being outgained 361-267 by TCU.

"As coaches we own every minute of this film," Bielema said on his postgame radio show. "We have to take a really good look at what we're asking our guys to do."

Bielema said he'll replace kicker Cole Hedlund -- who missed field goals of 23 and 20 yards. Blake Mazza and Connor Limpert will compete for job.

Hedlund's misses came after drives stalled at the Horned Frogs 4 and 2.

"It's one of those things we'll get better at," Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen said of failing to score touchdowns on those drives. "We'll install and do some different things to make sure we get in the end zone."

The Razorbacks' revamped 3-4 defense held TCU to less 400 yards, but the Horned Frogs were 10 of 14 on third-down conversions and held the ball for 33:52.

TCU put the game away with a 7-play, 55-yard touchdown drive that pushed its lead to 21-7 with 2:18 left, then scored again after a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return by Deon Stewart.

"We have to come out and compete," Arkansas defensive back Kevin Richardson said. "We focus on coming out and finishing the fourth quarter and we really didn't accomplish that.

"That was our emphasis going into the offseason. We have to focus even more on it now. We competed throughout the game, but we have to focus on finishing the fourth quarter."

Ramirez said Bielema's goal of Arkansas being the nation's most mproved team for the Texas A&M game is realistic.

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"There are things we can improve on, especially on defense stopping the run and on offense just executing better," Ramirez said. "I believe we can accomplish those things these next two weeks."

Sports on 09/11/2017

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