Ra­zor­backs’ in­abil­i­ties keep creep­ing

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS -

These now 2-4 over­all/0-3 in the SEC Ra­zor­backs dis­cour­ag­ingly re­flect last year’s 2-10, 0-8 Ra­zor­backs.

Com­ing off last Satur­day night’s 24-20

SEC loss in


Ken­tucky, to a Ken­tucky team pre­vi­ously SEC win­less digs a deeper abyss for

SEC win­less sec­ond-year


Coach Chad Mor­ris last year in­her­it­ing a 1-7 SEC squad from pre­de­ces­sor Bret Bielema.

Prospects for SEC suc­cess don’t loom on the im­me­di­ate Arkansas hori­zon. Not with na­tion­ally No. 11 Auburn, 5-1, 2-1 in the SEC West with an open date week to re­fuel from a 24-13 loss Oct. 5 loss to Florida, vis­it­ing Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium at 11 a.m. Satur­day on the SEC Net­work fol­lowed Oct. 26 by Arkansas’ trip to na­tion­ally No. 1 reign­ing SEC cham­pion Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Ken­tucky har­bored Arkansas’ best hope for an Oc­to­ber SEC suc­cess. That ship sailed with Ken­tucky wide re­ceiver turned emer­gency quar­ter­back Lynn Bow­den. Ken­tucky’s mis­for­tune turned to gold when in­juries to con­ven­tional quar­ter­backs Terry Wil­son and Sawyer Smith com­pelled Ken­tucky Coach Mark Stoops mov­ing Bow­den, his best wide re­ceiver but also his best of­fen­sive player pe­riod - to quar­ter­back.

At Arkansas’ ex­pense, ex-high school quar­ter­back Bow­den had a ball with the ball snapped right to him. In­stead of work­ing as a re­ceiver to get open, quar­ter­back Bow­den openly worked the Hogs over. He rushed for 196 yards and two touch­downs on 24 car­ries, com­pleted 7 of 11 passes for 78 yards with a touch­down plus a long pass of 31 yards and was aug­mented by Ken­tucky run­ning backs As­min Rose and Kavosiey Smoke com­bin­ing for 135 yards on 27 car­ries.

Be­tween the Hogs’ de­fense’s in­abil­i­ties to keep Bow­den (“he’s an un­be­liev­able player,” Mor­ris said) and Ken­tucky’s of­fense off the field and the Hogs’ of­fen­sive in­abil­ity to stay on the field, the Wild­cats pos­sessed the ball 37:11 to Arkansas’ 22:49.

The third quar­ter Ken­tucky hogged the ball while switch­ing the score­board from down 13-6 to up 17-13.

“In the third quar­ter they had the ball three min­utes and 45 sec­onds,” Mor­ris said. “It’s hard to hold on any mo­men­tum when you do that. That was very dis­ap­point­ing.”

Arkansas didn’t mind lack of pos­ses­sion time when Ra­zor­backs run­ning back Ra­keem Boyd pop­ping a 75-yard touch­down run on the game’s sec­ond play from scrim­mage.

How­ever, when the Hogs had to set­tle for a Con­nor Lim­pert field goal af­ter driv­ing to the Ken­tucky 10 and had to set­tle for a field goal yet again upon driv­ing to the Ken­tucky 26, Mor­ris was trou­bled even with Arkansas up, 13-0.

“We are just not at the point in our pro­gram were we can set­tle for field goals,” Mor­ris told the Ra­zor­backs Ra­dio Net­work au­di­ence postgame. “We’ve got to get touch­downs. The field goals were the right calls not go­ing for it on fourth down. But we’ve got to put

our­selves in the sit­u­a­tions to score touch­downs right there. Ob­vi­ously that came back to bite us.”

At this point of the sea­son bandied back and forth be­tween quar­ter­backs Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks, Mor­ris and the Hogs seem much in last year’s mode when they bandied be­tween since trans­ferred Ty Storey and Cole Kel­ley, plus a start for Con­nor Noland, now pitch­ing full-time for Dave Van Horn’s base­ball Ra­zor­backs.

This sea­son started with SMU grad trans­fer Hicks, switched the sec­ond half of the sea­son’s sec­ond game to Texas A&M grad­u­ate trans­fer Starkel, with far more ef­fec­tive than Hicks in the 31-17 SEC loss at Ole Miss, then started the last two games with Starkel but fin­ished with Hicks.

Starkel was in­jured dur­ing the 31-27 loss to Texas A&M with Hicks fin­ish­ing more ef­fec­tively than Starkel. Ditto last Satur­day in Lex­ing­ton with Starkel healthy but in­ef­fec­tive, 7 of 19 for 41 yards, and Hicks fin­ish­ing 5 of 8 for 81 yards with a go-ahead touch­down drive, 24-20 be­fore Bow­den’s 24-yard touch­down run capped Ken­tucky’s games-win­ning 6-play 75-yard drive.

So does he reeval­u­ate who quar­ter­backs vs. Auburn?

“Yes, yes no doubt,” Mor­ris said. “We’ve got to get some­thing that’s go­ing to pro­vide con­sis­tency and pro­vide that spark for us. We’ll reeval­u­ate that.”

Since the most fan pop­u­lar quar­ter­backs when times get tough tend to be the ones who haven’t played, ex­pect some fan clam­or­ing for true fresh­man KJ Jef­fer­son. How­ever these Hogs have six games to play. If Jef­fer­son plays four at the max­i­mum, he can still qual­ify for a red­shirt pre­serv­ing his fresh­man el­i­gi­bil­ity for 2020.

The de­fenses that Auburn and Alabama present aren’t ideal open­ers for a de­but­ing rookie quar­ter­back.


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