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Andy Hodges

Arkansas’ shot at Missouri could be defining moment for long season



You get the idea from being around Arkansas the past year Chad Morris didn’t expect what he has gotten from this team.

He came in last December and gave just about everybody a clean slate. Problems from the previous coaching staff weren’t a factor anymore. It was about what they did after December last year.

Some thrived. Look at Armon Watts, who has shown to be the best defensive lineman on the team. Nobody saw that coming in August because, well, nobody had seen him before then. To be honest, I had to look him up the first time I heard his name.

Others didn’t like the direction and left the time. Apparently, others didn’t like the direction and decided to hang around and go through the motions. That may be the most disappointing part of this first season for Morris.

He tried to give everybody a fair chance. If Morris is guilty of anything this season, it’s being too fair with some players for too long.

Considering the short stick he had in the recruiting game (he said at the time it was trying to build a five-year relationship in two weeks), you knew major improvement wasn’t going to be immediate … unless the players bought in to the new system.

Too many of them didn’t.

We’ll address the causes of how this program got to this level starting next week, but you can be certain it’s not Morris’ fault. If you buy a sports car that looks great on the outside but can’t do much beyond starting up, it’s not really your fault.

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Compared to taking over a college football program you don’t get to test drive the car first.

You end up doing the best with what you’ve got on a limited budget until you get everything fixed. Arkansas’ budget wasn’t the problem. The fact the NCAA limits the number of scholarships was the issue.

Now they go on the road to finish the season against a 7-4 Missouri team with quarterback Drew Lock, who may very well be the first quarterback taken in next spring’s NFL draft.

How Arkansas plays in this game may be a clue into exactly the mindset of the players coming back. Will they have the desire to play their best or just wallow around in the misery of a 2-9 season going into this game?

ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Razorbacks a 6.4 percent shot at winning the game. For some that number may be a little high towards the Hogs.

Which Arkansas team shows up? It’s been a hectic week with two starters suspended for this game over an incident before the Mississippi State game.

Look, I’m old enough to remember Lou Holtz suspending players far more vital to the team than these guys and then beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The difference was Lou probably had 40 players better than anybody on Morris’ roster.

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The weather’s going to be bad, which may limit Missouri’s offense. But to have any shot in this game you’d think the Hogs would have to do it passing downfield and the weather could limit that for them.

Get ready for the worst record in program history.

Missouri 45, Arkansas 38

Coming into the last week of the season, Peter Morgan has a mathematical chance to tie me. That’s because we both picked Mississippi State over Ole Miss in the game Thursday night. I am 78-16 while Peter is hanging on by his fingernails to a thin sheet already ripped to about 90 percent from breaking loose with a 70-24 mark.

But it is rivalry weekend and some good games on the list.

Easy Pickings

Georgia over Georgia Tech, Florida over Florida State, Clemson over South Carolina, Kentucky over Louisville.

Auburn at -24 Alabama

Remember that ESPN Football Power Index that gave the Hogs a 6.4 percent chance of beating Missouri?

To show you how little chance the Hogs have, the Tigers have an 8.9 percent chance of beating the Crimson Tide.

No way that happens.

Alabama 39, Auburn 6

Tennessee at -3.5 Vanderbilt

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The Commodores have now won two in a row in this series, which may be one of the signs the apocolypse is upon us. Former Vols coach Butch Jones got fired more for losing this game than losing to Alabama.

Tennessee has been inconsistent all season long, even in the games where they’ve won they haven’t been able to duplicate that performance two weeks in a row.

But in this one, I’m going with the Vols simply because I don’t think the football world can deal with Vandy winning this game three years in a row.

Tennessee 35, Vanderbilt 31

-3 LSU at Texas A&M

Welcome to the SEC, Jimbo.

There are some folks out there thinking the Aggies actually have a legitimate shot at winning this game. There are also people who believe the moon landing was fake and pro wrestling is real.

Ed Orgeron has the Tigers back in the spot they were in just a couple of years before Les Miles got fired … hoping like crazy somebody can knock off Alabama once in awhile.

The Tigers are playing for a chance in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

A&M is playing for a better bowl trip.

LSU is the better team and I’m not sure Fisher is a better offensive coach than Dave Aranda is a defensive coach.

LSU 28, Texas A&M 14



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