Like it is:

Another demoralizing loss hard to stomach

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2018
Arkansas quarterback Connor Noland is sacked by Mississippi State defenders Willie Gay Jr., Erroll Thompson and Montez Sweat during a game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas quarterback Connor Noland is sacked by Mississippi State defenders Willie Gay Jr., Erroll Thompson and Montez Sweat during a game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It was as obvious as a polar bear at a minnow farm.

Mississippi State was better than the University of Arkansas from start to finish.

The Bulldogs and Razorbacks might be SEC brothers, but they were in different leagues Saturday.

Mississippi State dominated the field, the statistics and the scoreboard. The only place the Hogs exceeded the Bulldogs was in number of penalties, nine to seven.

Whatever is wrong -- and something is wrong when a team has almost no on-field leadership -- has to be fixed sooner rather than later. Everyone can't lead by example. There has to be pride in wearing the Razorback uniform.

This seven-year itch has gone on long enough for Razorback fans who hope and dream, and who give their money to buy tickets. The fans who continue to travel to games -- even in Starkville -- only to see stupid penalties, dropped passes and shoulder tackles that fail. On Saturday, those problems added up to a 52-6 loss.

The Razorbacks were stomped by a team known for its defense but that had scored only seven points on Kentucky, six on Florida, three on LSU and zero against Alabama. Against the Hogs, the Bulldogs racked up 475 yards of sometimes uncontested offense. The 52 points were the third most the Bulldogs have scored this season -- the others were 63 against Stephen F. Austin and 56 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Take nothing away from MSU, which played hard and smart. The Bulldogs gave effort on every snap on both sides of the ball. They wanted it more and took it like it was rightfully theirs.

Now the Hogs go to Missouri and could end the season with two wins, the first time that has happened since 1952 (that's 66 years). This could be the first 10-loss season in program history.

This does not hang around Coach Chad Morris' neck because he boarded a sinking ship less than a year ago and has been bailing water daily. No one at Arkansas has ever worked harder at recruiting, and he knows things he doesn't share.

He wants progress and wants the fans to have a competitive program, even if it means finding other places for malcontents to pretend to play or shaking up the staff. Whatever it takes, he is going to do it. After Saturday, today would be a good time to pick up the pace.

In a span of 4:43, which is about the average time for one possession, the Razorbacks went from semi-respectable trailing 24-6 to getting run out of town with a hickory stick.

Hogs punter Reid Bauer fumbled a snap, and the Bulldogs recovered at the UA 4 with 7:45 to play in the third quarter. Four second later, Mississippi State went ahead 31-6, putting it ahead of the point spread for the first time.

It was just starting. The Bulldogs added a touchdown after an interception when the Hogs were penalized 30 of the 58 yards for two pass interferences. Two more scores followed bone-rattling sacks by the MSU defense on fourth down, and just like that it had gone from not too bad to a butt whipping.

Since scoring 31 on Alabama -- and giving up 65 -- any progress has been so marginal it is unnoticeable.

The coaches can teach players to wrap up on tackles, hold blocks and pick up blitzes until they are Hog red in the face, but apparently that doesn't mean it is going to happen in games.

Winning football starts on the practice field and is taken to the game field with intensity.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs wanted it like they were trick-or-treaters and the Razorbacks were candy.

Sports on 11/18/2018


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