Arkansas report card: Razorbacks squander opportunity for major upset
Arkansas had the perfect storm to pull off its biggest win of the Chad Morris era Saturday night. The Razorbacks were facing rival LSU a week after the Tigers were crushed by mighty Alabama. The Hogs, meanwhile, were fresh off a bye week. Arkansas also had its best crowd of the season working in its favor for the first and only night game of 2018 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Despite the elements being ripe for an upset, Saturday night turned out to be yet another disappointment from the Razorbacks. Arkansas fell to LSU 24-17, covering the two-touchdown spread but coming up just short of the type of victory that could’ve made Morris’ first season not seem like a complete failure.
Here are my grades for the Hogs’ performance:
Arkansas was let down by its offense, which failed to do much of anything until the fourth quarter. The Hogs had 17 points and 216 total yards, and 14 of those points and 125 of those yards came in the final 15 minutes. There’s no doubt the Razorbacks are walking away from this game wondering what might’ve been if the offense had been effective for more than just one quarter.
This sums up Arkansas’ offense through three quarters:
This pretty much sums up Arkansas football this season. pic.twitter.com/98mZuc0mm7
— Bart Pohlman (@SportsTalkBart) November 11, 2018
And this shows how that same unit did in the fourth quarter:
— Nikki Chavanelle (@NikkiChavanelle) November 11, 2018
If the offense had even just gained a pulse before it was too late, the Hogs would’ve had a real chance at a stunning victory.
This season, it has been nearly impossible to predict how Arkansas’ defense will play each week. The group has been incredibly impressive some weeks and clearly incompetent in others. This game, though, was one of the bright spots. The defense wasn’t intimidated and didn’t back down at any point. The Hogs stayed within striking distance in large part because of 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss and a key forced fumble. Simply put, this side of the ball wasn’t perfect but played well enough to win.
Special teams: C
Arkansas’ kick and punt coverage were very good once again. Outside of that, there isn’t really much to be said about the special teams. Freshman punter Reid Bauer had a decent stat line with a 41-yard average and two of his seven attempts pinned inside the 20-yard line. But overall, his attempts to flip the field with an impressive boot were disappointing. Kicker Connor Limpert made his only field goal attempt from 28 yards. Unsurprisingly, none of Limpert’s three kickoffs were touchbacks.
It would have been easy for the Hogs to roll over and quit after falling behind 24-3 in the second half. However, they battled until the end and made this a competitive game. That shows this coaching staff at least has these players believing in themselves. That being said, those players were also tackling each other in the backfield, which was indicative of just how much the offensive game plan underwhelmed.
This is a historically bad Arkansas team, so losing by a touchdown to a top-10 opponent certainly isn’t a terrible performance. It’s still a loss, though, and it’s a major missed opportunity. The Tigers came into Fayetteville and sleepwalked their way to a win. Now, Arkansas has crept ever closer to its first-ever 10-loss season.