Hog Calls:

Razorbacks focus on themselves in preparation for Tigers

By: Nate Allen
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Arkansas coach Chad Morris talks to players during a game against North Texas on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Chad Morris talks to players during a game against North Texas on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The defending SEC West champion Auburn Tigers command such respect they can lose a September game and remain AP Top 10.

Coach Gus Malzahn's then No, 7 Tigers lost, 22-21 to SEC West rival LSU last Saturday in Auburn, Ala.

They rank ninth this week.

Given 2-1 Auburn opened the season defeating then nationally No. 6 Pac 12 preseason favorite Washington and appears talent loaded, it seems Arkansas' full-time focus should be on the Tigers into Saturday night's SEC West game at Auburn.

It won't. Working on themselves takes Razorbacks priority.

First-year Coach Chad Morris' Razorbacks of course will have scout-teams impersonating the Tigers this week

But losing 34-27 at Colorado State of the Mountain West and embarrassed 44-17 by the North Texas Mean Green of Conference USA these last two Saturdays in Fort Collins, Colo., and Fayetteville most emphasizes self improvement.

"We've got to get better in all areas," Morris said Monday. "And it starts with everyone looking in the mirror and going back to our basics and focusing on us."

After Arkansas threw six interceptions last Saturday and was held to 66 yards rushing before reserve running back Maleek Williams broke a 68-yard touchdown past UNT reserves with 58 seconds left, Morris figures offensively these Hogs might accomplish more attempting to do less.

"I mentioned to the staff let's reduce and let's simplify and let's give clarity," Morris said. "Let's find some things that we can do, and let's hang our hat on them."

Even if it's a little Hog hat rack.

"If it's only four things that we can do then let's just get good at those four things," Morris said. "Maybe we only get 10 percent of the offense in this year. Then let's be very effective with the 10 percent of that offense we get in."

Given its abominable field position because of Arkansas turnovers and poor punting (and 14 UNT direct points off a pick-six and 90-yard punt return off a fake fair catch) the Arkansas defense of veteran coordinator John "Chief" Chavis held up relatively well.

Still, Chavis saw too many of Mean Green running too free.

"We gave up seven explosive plays," Chavis said. "That's seven too many."

Tackling was expected emphasized in Tuesday's most physical practice of the week though coaches caution this already depleted team can't risk more injuries.

"Will we go out there tomorrow and line up and go good on good all week long?" Morris asked rhetorically Monday of scrimmaging in practice. "Absolutely not. That's not the answer. The answer is going back to fundamentals and techniques and staying on that course."

They already started that in Sunday's light workout, Chavis said.

"You don't necessarily have to beat guys up to teach them and get better," Chavis said Monday. "It's about getting to the point of attack and having your feet in position where they need to be and really focusing on the target."

For this week, the Razorbacks' target is themselves.

Sports on 09/19/2018

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