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Andy Hodges

Hogs’ performance against ’Dogs unacceptable to everybody

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If your opinion of Arkansas being on the wrong end of a 52-6 tail-kicking in Starkville on Saturday is not acceptable, well, Chad Morris is right there with you.

“Unacceptable in all areas,” a grim-faced Morris started with his postgame comments. “Unacceptable coaching. Unacceptable playing. Unacceptable effort.”

You got the idea watching him this may be an interesting last week of the season.

“Not what we’re about,” he said. “Not what this program’s going to be built on. It’s absolutely not acceptable.”

The reason I got the idea it may be an interesting week is what came next.

“We’re going to find out,” he said. “We’re in a big gut-check time right now.”

The loss is by far the worst-looking performance this Razorback team has had all season. Mississippi State came into the game ranked No. 21 and looked every bit of that, but this team has already played Alabama and LSU without looking quite as inept.

“Obviously, we had some opportunities,” Morris said. “We were unable to execute. That’s the biggest thing. Just a lack of execution. Drops, had guys open and couldn’t get it, had a touchdown, get a touchdown called back, got guys running open … just a lack of execution.”

Morris looked and acted like someone who was completely blindsided by the performance and didn’t see it coming at all.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Not one time. We had really good workouts, our energy level has been high, our attitude had been great.”

He was asked how he would address it in the postgame and you got the idea he knew, but wasn’t ready to tell anyone else.

“We’re gonna find out,” he said. “it’s a gut-check. It’s going to take a special person to come back in here tomorrow and put their best foot forward. If you don’t have that, it’s okay, but don’t show back up.

“From coaching, to playing, to equipment, to training, it’s everything.”

In the second half, defensive coordinator John Chavis came out of the pressbox to the field.

“More than anything so (the players) could see the urgency in his eyes and his voice,” Morris said.

There were plays open. Quarterback Ty Storey was wide open for a pass, but De’Vion Warren short-armed it, which was just one of the myriad of problems for him all day long as he dropped a wide open crossing route later that would have either gotten a touchdown or pretty close to it.

“You have to make plays at any level,” Morris said. “You have to execute. You get a call, you practice the call, continue to rep it … I don’t think De’Vion said, ‘Hey, I’m going to drop this ball.’ Without a doubt he didn’t say that. But you have to execute and we’re just not executing.”

He said he wasn’t upset.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “The steps we’ve been taking, this is just unacceptable, you know, in all areas.”

That was the defining word for this game. Morris was asked later about some of the defensive starters coming out before the game to try and exchange information with State’s cheerleaders, but he wasn’t addressing.

“Unacceptable,” was the answer the rest of the way for the last couple of questions.

It does bring up questions about what may be the biggest issue Morris has not been able to overcome this season and it’s a lack of self-discipline within the program he inherited.

Oh, it’s fairly certain that issue will be addressed by Morris and the staff.

After five years of things that you hear about, see and then wonder about, maybe Morris discovered that was the biggest problem of all in this program.

This team hasn’t had a lot of senior leadership. That’s not to say a couple have taken on that role, but it takes more than one or two. There hasn’t been a lot of internal accountability for five years so you didn’t think it would happen immediately, did you?

It hasn’t and that has led to wild swings in what we’ve seen on the field this season. For example, how can a team that looked decent against LSU turn around and stink it up against Mississippi State?

It appears that’s the same question Morris and the staff have, too.

As we said, that may make for an interesting week before closing it out against Missouri on Friday.

It also might be a different-looking team, too.

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