Like It Is:

No way to spin it: Hogs’ loss disappointing

By: Wally Hall
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Arkansas coach Chad Morris shouts from the sideline during a game against Colorado State on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Chad Morris shouts from the sideline during a game against Colorado State on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo.

With 7:21 to play in the third quarter, the University of Arkansas fans seemed to outnumber Colorado State fans, many of whom already had gone to the library.

That’s the saying around Fort Collins when the fans bail early.

The Razorback fans, who perhaps sensed this might be their bowl game, were loud and proud.

Arkansas had just taken a 27-9 lead and Cole Kelley, at that moment, seemed to have a hot hand off the bench, much like Ty Storey did in the season-opening win against Eastern Illinois.

In the Razorbacks’ first two possessions of the second half, Kelley had thrown touchdown passes of 25 yards to La’Michael Pettway and 64 yards to T.J. Hammonds, most of that running after a shovel pass. There was plenty for the Razorback Nation to cheer. After all, the Hogs are an SEC team and were playing a winless team from the Mountain West, and the momentum had swung as mightily as altitude sickness atop Pikes Peak.

What no one knew, or should have even suspected, was it was over, and the Hogs would lose because over their next four possessions they looked inept and the defense was gasping at 5,000 feet of elevation.

On the one decent drive that went for 25 yards, they faced fourth and 1 from midfield and momentum seemed to have crept back onto the Razorbacks’ side of the field. With a 27-17 lead, most people seemed to think Chad Morris would go for it.

The defense already was showing serious signs of not stopping the Rams, and a first down would have given the Hogs a downhill run.

Instead, the Hogs went conventional and punted. CSU started its drive at the 4. The Rams shrugged their shoulders and drove the 96 yards in nine plays for a touchdown.

If there were boos, they were not heard. They would have been heard at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

To put everything into perspective, the Razorbacks no longer look like a team that is going to get bowl eligible.

One of the four nonconference “wins” is a loss, and North Texas appears — at least on paper — to be better than Colorado State.

It gets worse for the Hogs. In the preseason, when predictions flow as freely and wildly as the Mississippi River, there were two SEC teams the Razorbacks were supposed to have a legitimate chance to beat, especially at home. But Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are undefeated and have won with ease.

Which brings up the promise Morris made when he spoke to the Little Rock Touchdown a few weeks back, that the team would be all out and improve each week.

He did not promise they would be better than last season. He did not promise they would win enough games to be bowl eligible. He did not promise a number of wins.

He said they would fight to the finish, and believe it or not, they basically did that Saturday night.

Morris got in this poker game late, and he’s playing the hand he was dealt. He knows better than anyone that he has tons of work to do each and every day. People can complain that he’s taking about four hours on Friday nights to fly to Dallas and back to watch his son play quarterback.

But by Friday night, the hay is in the barn. Besides, he is recruiting his son, along with a bunch of other kids from Texas.

Saturday was a bitter pill for him, but it was equally as distasteful to the fans who want to go for it on fourth and short, to beat teams they are supposed to beat and see progress in a program that has been in a tailspin for more than two years.

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