Arkansas coach Chad Morris called quarterback Ty Storey the “toughest player” inside War Memorial Stadium following the Hogs’ 37-33 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night. Anyone who watched knows there’s no refuting the validity of that statement. The junior from Charleston, Ark., took several big hits and continued to make big plays regardless.

While it sounds great to be praised for toughness, it’s more important to be available. And Storey’s toughness took that away, which almost certainly cost Arkansas its first SEC win since last October.

Make no mistake, Storey has improved more than any Razorback over the past year, month and even week. He’s gone from a third-string option in 2017 to an effective starter now. He has grasped enough of Morris’ complex playbook, which sources say has been an incredibly challenging task for all the quarterbacks, to give Arkansas a chance at winning conference games.

What Storey must do next is take a back seat when it comes to being the toughest player. The final hit he took early in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss knocked him out of the game. Storey was trying to make an impressive play, which he did by gaining 10 yards and a first down.

But he had to take on an aggressive hit from the Rebels’ Zedrick Woods in the process. That hit could have been avoided with Storey stepping out of bounds for a 9-yard gain. That would have set up a third-and-1 and saved him for the rest of the game. Instead, the hit resulted in the training staff taking away Storey’s helmet. The Hogs’ offense couldn’t gain any traction without him, failing to score for the first time in 10 quarters as Ole Miss erased a 9-point deficit in the final 7 minutes. The hit will also likely have him in concussion protocol with his status in doubt ahead of a matchup with Tulsa — Arkansas’ most winnable remaining game — this Saturday.

Storey had picked apart Ole Miss all night. He had completed 75 percent of his passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. His running ability was especially problematic as he racked up 70 yards on 9 carries.

Without him, the Hogs lost the player who has suddenly become their greatest offensive asset along with running back Rakeem Boyd, who also left the loss to Ole Miss with an injury. The drop-off from Storey to backup Cole Kelley is now far steeper than anyone could have imagined just a few weeks ago. Even just one more drive with Storey could have put the game away in the Hogs’ favor.

This isn’t meant to let the defense off the hook. That group deserves the most blame after allowing more than 600 yards and collapsing late. Still, it’s surely a non-factor if Storey is in the game during the deciding stretch.

Senior offensive lineman Hjatle Froholdt said it best following the loss Saturday: “He’s tough. But we don’t want to describe our quarterbacks anymore as tough.”

What Froholdt means is Storey no longer has to prove he’s among the toughest players in the SEC. Instead, he needs to prove he can keep himself available if Arkansas wants any chance at earning a conference victory this season.