Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Team has mind on fired AD
Arkansas director of athletics Jeff Long warms up before throwing out the first pitch against Miami (Ohio) Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The defensive personnel in the post-practice media room on Thursday spoke fondly of Jeff Long, who was ousted as athletic director at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Wednesday.
"You know what, he's a great guy to work for," inside linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves said. "It's unfortunate, but obviously with business and everything else that goes on, things happen. We'll miss him and wish him all the best."
Defensive captain Kevin Richardson said Long "cared about everybody" in the athletic department.
"You saw it all across social media today," Richardson said. "The guys were wishing him the best. Not just us, but basketball and soccer and everybody, gymnastics, all those different sports had some type of impact on him like he had on us, and it's huge to see that everybody cares about him like he does us."
Linebacker De'Jon Harris said Long was always respectful and uplifting, particularly after losses.
"He was around us a lot," Harris said. "I've talked to him after the games on on the plane, but I haven't really spent that much time with him. I wish I had gotten to know him a little bit better than what I did.
"In bad situations he was always trying to lift us up. So I feel bad for what happened to him, and I hope the best for him."
Linebacker Jamario Bell said, "We're just fighting the fight we're in. We're just putting our head down and working as hard as we can."
Arkansas and Mississippi State have played four common opponents so far this season -- Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs went 2-2 against those teams, while the Razorbacks were 0-4. Mississippi State outscored those teams 106-101 for an average score of 26.5 to 25.25. Arkansas was outscored against the quartet by 176-82 for an average score of 44 to 20.5.
Got to fight
Defensive captain Kevin Richardson said he talked with safety Santos Ramirez after the LSU game about the play of the defense in the second half. The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to turn a 7-7 tie into a 26-10 lead.
"We came into halftime like we knew we were in the game, but ... we've got to come out and fight the whole second half," Richardson said. "We didn't win the game in the first half. You've got to win a whole game by playing four quarters.
"We've just got to keep that mindset that we're in the game and we've got to kind of expect to be in the game. ... I don't think guys went in at halftime and didn't think that we were gonna lose the game. I just think we've got to contain that excitement and energy we had and come out and play a strong second half."
Arkansas' Blake Johnson had one of his weaker performances at LSU, averaging 34.9 yards on his seven punts, with one going inside the 20 and a long of 46 yards.
Johnson's best kick was his first, the 46-yard punt coming with Arkansas backed up at its own 3 at the end of the first possession of the game.
With Arkansas battling poor field position in the first half, Johnson had a chance to pin the Tigers deep with a punt from the Hogs' 40, but he managed only a 32-yard effort to the LSU 28.
In the second half, a pooch punt from the LSU 49 hit near the 20 and bounced backward before the Hogs could down it at the 31 for an 18-yard punt.
Arkansas fell to No. 96 in the FBS in net punting with an average of 36.7 yards.
Bret Bielema talked Monday about the potential a quarterback battle in the spring between freshman Cole Kelley, who is on an indefinite suspension of at least one week, and sophomore Ty Storey, who will be senior Austin Allen's backup on Saturday.
"Ty has a lot of talent," Bielema said. "He's an engaged football player. Probably no one better with a football IQ or understanding of our offense.
"In big-picture thinking, like I told Ty and Cole at the beginning of the year and then when we made the decision to go with Cole ... no matter what happened during the course of the season with Cole and Ty, when we got to the spring it was going to be an open battle. I told those guys back then they both have tremendous upside and got a great deal to do."
Jack Lindsey, a redshirt freshman out of Springdale High, is the third-team quarterback this week.
Arkansas leads the series against Mississippi State 16-10-1. The Razorbacks were 9-0-1 against the Bulldogs in the state of Arkansas before falling 24-17 in overtime at War Memorial Stadium on Nov. 23, 2013. The Razorbacks lead the series 3-1 in Fayetteville, 6-1-1 in Little Rock, and 7-6 in Starkville, Miss., following a 58-42 victory there last Nov. 18.
The first two games in the series were played in Memphis in 1916 and 1939, with the Bulldogs winning 20-7 and 19-0, respectively.
Mississippi State held a 4-0-1 edge in the series before Arkansas took a 26-21 victory in 1995, touching off a 12-1 run by the Hogs.
Sports on 11/16/2017
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