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:
Too many obstacles for Hogs to overcome
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman looks toward referee Marc Curles during a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville.
For most of the second half, it appeared the undermanned Arkansas Razorbacks were going to overcome LSU in the most important statistic — the final score.
Covid-19 sidelined six Razorback defenders who are regulars, although only three were starters.
It quickly became obvious LSU’s goal was to wear down the defense, but the wet, exhausted and bone-weary Razorbacks never stopped fighting.
The Hogs just couldn’t get the Tigers off the field enough.
LSU ran 91 plays, and its offense was on the field for 41:43 compared to 18:17 for the Razorbacks. With 1:30 to play, the Tigers partially blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt to escape with a 27-24 victory.
The elephant in the room — the officiating — is coming, but the Razorbacks’ big plays must be discussed first.
Feleipe Franks had a 65-yard touchdown pass to Treylon Burks, two 50-yarders to Mike Woods that led to touchdowns, and a 51-yard pass to T.J. Hammonds that set up a field goal for a 24-20 lead.
What the Hogs couldn’t do was a convert a third down, going 0 of 10. It took a toll on the defense late in the fourth quarter when the Tigers drove 67 yards on 10 plays, including a 13-yard touchdown pass, that gave them the lead with 3:59 left to play.
The Tigers faced only one third down on the drive and converted it. They made good on 12 of 23 third downs in the game.
Now, just a moment about the officiating.
It is being suggested the SEC review crew needs new TVs. Samsung has some really nice ones, and yours truly’s clearly showed Joe Foucha recovering a fumble in LSU territory.
This is the second time Foucha has been told he didn’t recover a fumble when he was holding the ball in both hands. The first was in the Auburn game.
Secondly, Jalen Catalon was not targeting. Several replays showed he left his feet before the receiver started going down, and that there was no helmet-to-helmet contact.
Yet, he’ll have to sit out the first half of next week’s Missouri game because guys reviewing the play obviously couldn’t see what millions did on their TVs.
Except for two big plays, the first half was dull for the Razorbacks as they fell behind 20-14. It was like the Hogs were suffering from a covid-19 hangover in the first half.
Losing six defensive players from the two-deep obviously took a toll on the defense, but being forced to spend 21:52 of the first half on the field because the offense couldn’t muster sustained drives was worse.
The defense was off the field only 8:08 in the first half.
It was amazing LSU led by only six points. The Tigers had 279 yards of first-half offense to the Razorbacks’ 182. And 115 of those yards came on two passes — the 65-yarder to Burks and a 50-yarder to Woods that set up Franks’ 10-yard touchdown run.
Arkansas gave up 17 second-quarter points and seven in the second half, but that touchdown was the game-winner. The Razorbacks were counting on players who wouldn’t have seen the field Saturday if not for the virus.
It was not the Razorbacks’ best effort of the season nor their worst.
This is one Sam Pittman will quickly put on the back burner. Mistakes will be viewed, then full attention will turn to Missouri.
Among the many positives Pittman has brought to the football program is a vision.
He doesn’t dwell on the past, and he goes into every week with a winning attitude. His team follows his lead.
Despite the virus, officials and an inconsistent running attack, the Razorbacks had a shot to beat the Tigers because they created that shot.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.