Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Conditions no excuse this time for Hogs
Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim chases down Colorado State quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels during a game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo.
It was a beautiful night for football.
Temperatures called for a light wrap, and there was no rain in the air.
Humidity wasn’t even 20%.
And the air was very thin.
The day before, your trusty scribe had to be helped off of Pikes Peak, a mountain that was scaled twice years ago in the Pikes Peak half-marathon.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the University of Arkansas led 27-17. The Hogs had just scored two third-quarter touchdowns and racked up 168 yards of offense.
Then they hit the wall with a mighty thud.
Obviously, they were not in as good of shape as they should have been. The altitude seemed to suck the life out of them.
In the final quarter — when Colorado State outscored the Razorbacks 17-0 for a 34-27 win — the Hogs had 22 yards of offense. The Rams had 195 yards.
Some dispute the altitude made a difference. It may not be a mile high at 4,982 feet above sea level, but the Hogs felt it. Fayetteville is 1,401 feet above sea level.
This Saturday could have some role reversal, and elevation has nothing to do with it.
The forecast for Fayetteville on Saturday when the Rams come calling is 87 degrees, same as Fort Collins, Colo., but the humidity will be 67%, compared to just 26% last year.
While that is a very livable humidity for us at this time of year, it could take a toll on a good Rams team.
Fear the Rams.
In their opening game against rival Colorado, they had 505 yards of offense, trailed 24-21 at the half and then disaster hit.
The Rams lost a fumble, and the Buffaloes had to go just 27 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. In the final quarter, Colorado had a scoop and score from 9 yards out.
The 52-31 score is not indicative of how close the game was.
Colorado came back a week later and scored 28 second-half points to beat Nebraska 34-31. The Rams walked over FCS team Western Illinois 38-13.
Colorado State Coach Mike Bobo, who suffered his first losing season as a head coach last year, said in a teleconference Monday that the Rams are better than last year.
They have more depth on defense, and Collin Hill has been outstanding at quarterback.
They also have a freshman receiver who may give some of the Razorbacks a headache. Dante Wright was overlooked by a lot of schools. The Navarre, Fla., native is 5-8 and 165 pounds, but he has played much bigger for the Rams.
In two games, he has 11 catches for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Bobo sees him as a weapon, and he also has run the ball 4 times for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. If he gets open, no one has been able to catch him.
In that teleconference, Bobo said something about his team getting a win last week. It should reverberate with the Razorbacks and their fans.
“Winning is good for team morale,” he said.
It also can be good for confidence, and that’s something the Razorbacks are going to need more of in the near future.
For now, the quarterback debate has been settled, as Nick Starkel will get his first start as a Razorback this Saturday. But the biggest issue the Hogs had last week — and there were some signs of it in the win over Portland State — was tackling.
Against Portland State, the Hogs didn’t contain very well.
Against Ole Miss, they had trouble wrapping up and bringing the Rebels down.
All in all, this could be a pretty good football game worthy of a grandson’s first game.
The humidity could help the Hogs, but not as much as tackling to the ground.
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