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College Sports Football

Oh, Arkansas. What A Year. A Fans Perspective.

I’ve been a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks for my entire existence. I’ve bought merch over the years and I’ve never missed a game. If I couldn’t watch it, I listened to the play by plays on the radio as me and my dad cooked on the grill or while I was on my way to work. Heck, for the first time ever I made my way to finally seeing the Razorbacks play live at home in Fayetteville this year. As someone who grew up loving the Razorbacks, I never grew up ever getting the opportunity to actually see my hogs play. I don’t come from a family of tons of wealth and as an adult, time or money has never been on my side. But I always contributed to the program from abroad.

Unfortunately, my first ever home game attended was the infamous San Jose State game. A game that will go down as one of the worst program losses in history. I cant even put into words just how amazing the atmosphere is at this stadium. You simply just have to be there to truly understand and appreciate what the stadium really is. TV does not do it any justice at all. My experience was like getting a first class ticket on a fancy airplane and then midway through the flight, hitting the biggest, most violent, hard hitting turbulence you wouldn’t believe and ultimately crash landing wondering what the hell is happening all the way down.

The last two seasons have been the absolute worst seasons I’ve seen in my lifetime. Historically this is one of, if not the worst stretch in this football programs history. This team hasn’t won a SEC game since 2017. Sure, playing in the toughest division (SEC West) doesn’t help things at all as we attempt to rebuild, but San Jose freakin’ State???? Then we lose to Kentucky who lost every quarterback on their depth chart and plugged a WR in the QB slot. The wide receiver they used at QB, was the best WR they had on their team. That is just flat out embarrassing.

The misery doesn’t end there though, sadly. We are past 8 games in the season, and really haven’t learned much about any of the teams depth. What we knew in week one, is the same story going into the 9th game. Nick Starkle is broken mentally, and the wheels came off all the way back during the San Jose State game where he threw 5 interceptions. Ben Hicks is who we thought he was after all, a poor game manager. Yeah, he isn’t a turnover machine but going 3 and out every drive and punting the ball, is just as bad. He simply does not produce, does not move the chains and the team lacks all confidence in him. John Stephen Jones, grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has shown a little bit of promise. The current QB situation as been abysmal all season long and I just cannot believe we have not done more to figure out what else we got in that department. Injuries have also been a significant part of this teams failures, combined with a lot of inexperience. Arkansas has the 2nd youngest team in all of division 1 football.

We have a lot of young guys who show a lot of promising potential, but a big part of me believes they have been restrained by this coaching staff to an extent. So many conservative and vanilla play calls have killed so many potential game changing drives. How in the world do you build and develop players on a scheme that limits everyone’s strengths? Rakeem Boyd is one of the best running backs in the SEC, but we struggle to keep him involved. Cheyenne O’Grady, one of the better tight ends in the whole country has not been utilized to his full potential because the passing game is so poor. The same could be said about Treylon Burks. These are all things that were concerning in week one and the story remains the same going into game 9.

Chad Morris, I didn’t expect a winning season in year 2 of a rebuild on a program whos been in shambles for nearly a decade. All I wanted was to see hope for once. Losing games that easily could have been won and should have won, has been heartbreaking. Seeing our team being embarrassed on the national stage time and time again… heartbreaking. We as fans, wanted to see fight. We’re in game 9 facing a really bad Mississippi State team, worried about whether we’re even going to be competitive or not. That is a problem. The recruits are seeing the same tired issues that this team has had all year long and have doubted this programs ability to elevate their football careers. I personally don’t feel like this program would hold a standout football players career back, but I can understand the concern. We really need a win Chad and this is the game to win. You got to give us something to look forward to! Try different talents. Mix it up. If the first QB shows struggles, put the next guy in. This team needs to know what it has moving forward. No more Ben Hicks and Nick Starkle, they’ve had 8 games to get this offense where it needs to be and have failed in every way possible. We need more than what we all knew after week one, and if that means taking chances then so be it. At least the fans will be able to appreciate the fact that you tried something different.

Lastly Morris, you simply have to prove yourself as a coach in the SEC in the final weeks of the season. If John Chavis and mainly, Joe Craddock, cant put some schemes together to elevate this team for a couple of wins for the remainder of the season, its time to evaluate the coordinator positions. More than not, the defense has held pretty well but cant get off the field because of the offensive struggles of this team. Joe Craddock is definitely due for a coaching evaluation if something does not change.

Above it all, I’ll always call for them hogs on Saturdays. Even if its painful to watch, I’m always going to support this team. I can only hope that we can get back to our glory days again with our current coaching staff. Anyone else remember the good ole stretch when we were always in the mix for being one the best teams in the country under Bobby Petrino? I’m in no way inclining that we try to get Petrino back, but those years spoiled us. Are we as fans expecting too much in year two? What does this team have left in the tank? I want to see FIGHT for the remainder of the season and that’s all we ask for as fans.

Does Chad Morris and his coaching staff deserve to be on the hot seat just yet or is it to early? Part of me says, its hard to put all the blame on Morris. His recruiting abilities have shown and perhaps its just the team experience that’s lacking. The other half of me cant excuse some of the play calling and questionable decisions made that cost the team games. Hopefully the process will produce a better team moving forward. We as Arkansas fans can only hope for that breakout year sometime soon. It’ll be interesting to see how coach Morris plans to finish out the year as this team is in desperate need of finishing strong going into year 3 of the Morris Era. We may not have had much of a football season, but it appears basketball and baseball are still things to look forward to. Woo Pig Soooie.

Photo credit: Pryce Wright/Game Changer Sports Network

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