The Hogs are rested, ready for Florida
A bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ever since the Arkansas Razorbacks opened their season with a clean sweep against non-conference opponents in the first three weeks, times have been tough for the Hogs.
Arkansas has gone 1-3 in SEC play since its 3-0 start, though the worst came in its last game, when the Auburn Tigers dished out an embarrassing 56-3 loss on Oct. 22.
Throughout the season, the Razorbacks have dealt with injuries and growing pains, but the lopsided loss at Auburn was the darkest bruise the Hogs have had to endure during the 2016 slate.
“There was a certain number of guys that if we had to play a game last Saturday wouldn’t have been able to do that,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said in a press conference on Monday.
“But the good news is everybody was back out there (Sunday),” the coach added.
Among the players who took a beating at Auburn was quarterback Austin Allen. The signal-caller dealt with pressure throughout the game, and he was sacked by the Tigers four times. Allen even suffered a sprained right knee injury in the second quarter when he took a low hit by Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson — a hit which forced him out of action for the remainder of the series — though he fought through it to play the rest of the game.
Even though he took a beating against the Tigers, the junior quarterback returned to practice after sitting out during the bye week.
“Austin didn’t get any work last week, but he was out there yesterday afternoon and ran with the ones,” Bielema said. “We feel good with where that is.”
Allen and the Arkansas offense will have its hands full when it faces No. 11 Florida in Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon. After only manufacturing 3 points against the Tigers, the Hogs will have to try to score against the Gators, who rank second in the nation in points allowed (11.7).
While the Razorbacks have been struggling in conference play, Florida has somewhat found its footing and currently sits atop the SEC East with 6-1 record overall and a 4-1 mark in the SEC.
Since the Gators suffered their only loss of the season at Tennessee on Sept. 24, the Gators have rolled through Vanderbilt, Missouri and Georgia to earn three straight wins. During that stretch, Florida outscored those three opponents 77-30.
“They are playing very, very well,” Bielema said when asked about Florida. “Defensively, they are as good as there is in this league. They’re different than some of the others — different than A&M, different than Alabama — in the way that they do things … but they’re very, very talented.”
A year ago, the Razorbacks had a 2-4 record before winning six of their final seven games. That successful stretch came following a bye week after a hard-fought 27-14 loss at Alabama.
While the Hogs will hope to replicate the run they went on after the bye last week, Florida will provide a tough test to begin the final month of the regular season.