Morris: No moral victories for Hogs
Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches warmups prior to a game against Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Auburn, Ala.
AUBURN, Ala. -- The final score suggested otherwise, but there was progress for the Arkansas Razorbacks in their 34-3 loss to Auburn on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Breakdowns on special teams masked a stellar effort by the defense and some encouraging signs from the offense.
"Losing is not acceptable in this program at all," University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said. "There's no moral victories.
"But there's opportunities to continue to grow and opportunities to continue to get better. That's where we are right now with this program."
A kickoff return, punt return and blocked punt resulted in 17 points for the Tigers. A fumble return also set up a touchdown.
Arkansas held Auburn to a season-low 225 yards in total offense and sacked Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham four times.
While the Razorbacks struggled to finish drives offensively and scored only on Connor Limpert's 29-yard field goal, Arkansas gained 295 yards and got a good enough performance from junior quarterback Ty Storey that Morris said he'll be the starter moving forward.
"I feel like we made big progress," Arkansas senior guard Johnny Gibson said. "As an offense, I know we had more yards than them, and our defense slowed them down big-time.
"We've just got to kill the penalties on offense and make more plays. I feel like when all that happens, we'll have a win."
The game gave the Razorbacks (1-3, 0-1 SEC) something to build on after North Texas pounded them 44-17 at home the previous week.
"The offense definitely got way better tonight," Arkansas senior defensive end Randy Ramsey said. "Only thing I really see is we shot ourselves in the foot on special teams."
Storey said the defense played great, but the offense has to be more productive -- and that starts with him.
"Any time you only put up three points as an offense that's not good, but we can play with [Auburn]," Storey said. "We've got the guys, we've got the system.
"This is going to work. We've just got to execute. We've got to make some plays."
Arkansas plays Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1) at 11 a.m. this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Aggies -- who lost 45-21 at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday -- have a six-game winning streak against the Razorbacks.
"I think this one, we will pull it off this year," Ramsey said. "If we keep elevating each game ... I think we'll pull it off."
Gibson said there's reason for optimism about how the Razorbacks played Auburn.
"I feel pretty good seeing how everybody battled in this game against a tough team in Auburn," he said. "That's a tough team over there."
Morris went against Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn -- his close friend -- for the first time with both as head coaches.
"I just congratulated him," Morris said of their postgame meeting. "He's got a great team and he's done a great job with this program.
"We talk all the time. Before the game we talked just a little bit. But it's just like coaching any other game.
"There really wasn't no point in time in the game I was thinking it was Gus on that sideline. It was another opponent and we were trying to get ourselves better."
Morris said the Razorbacks will take the good from the Auburn game as well as correct the mistakes.
"These times of growth that we're going through will only make us stronger and better," Morris said. "I think this football team continues to improve every day."
Morris said he was proud of how the Razorbacks competed at Auburn,
"They didn't back down," he said. "There was no challenge too big for them.
"Extremely proud of the way this team has fought. They keep caring. They keep giving what we ask them to give."
Sports on 09/24/2018
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.