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LSU 41 Arkansas 17: Emotionally Stunned

LSU is a better team than we are. LSU is better than anybody, except perhaps Alabama.

Garret Uekman, a 19 year old Razorback Tight-End, seemingly in perfect health, died suddenly, last Sunday of what doctors described as an enlarged heart condition.

Having said that, we are a better team than how we played the last quarter of yesterday’s game, or for that matter the last 2 & 1/2 quarters when we were outscored 41-3 after taking a stunning 14-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the 2nd Quarter.

At that point in the game, I didn’t just think we were going to win, I thought we were going to blow them out. We were executing well on offense, moving the ball. And more importantly we seemed to be stopping them when we were on defense. Not only did we take the crowd out of the game, they were actually beginning to turn on their team. LSU was about to fold. As a matter of fact, in a way they did fold. On what would become their first scoring drive, as the fans were booing, they seemed rattled, fumbling the ball twice (the second fumble was fumbled forward for 8 yards which enabled them to gain a first down on a fluke play) Arkansas was playing with too much cushion on defense or else they would have recovered that second fumble that squirted 8 yards ahead of the LSU running back. Another time on that drive, when we had them stopped, their player dove his head down into our defenders hand and got a face mask and 15 yards to keep the drive alive.

I really believe had we stopped them on that drive, they would have folded, and the rest of the day would have been ours. But it wasn’t to be. And suddenly, in what seemed like a blink in the eye, all the momentum changed towards LSU, and they were off to the races.

Another couple key moments spring to mind as momentum changers. Obviously without any doubt the 92-yard punt return by Mathieu. Many will say that was the key turning point in the game, and they may be right. Any time another team takes one to the house on you, it’s always an emotional blow, no matter what the circumstances, but these circumstances were anything but normal: A No.1 team playing a No.3 team on national television with implications of a National Championship on the line. Add to that, that one of their own, a player who had been on the very same field as they, only a week before, had suddenly died on Sunday, leaving young minds no time to process the unexplainable tragedy, and one can understand that any team in the nation would be equally emotionally stunned.

That made it 14-14. Still, mustering emotional strength from no one knows where, the Razorbacks didn’t fold and fought on. On the subsequent drive they were moving the ball and the chains nicely. Dennis Johnson had a nice run to pick a first down, and it felt like Arkansas was going to score, but then he fumbled going down, and that one seemed to be the proverbial “straw” or “nail” that the Razorbacks couldn’t come back from.

It’s not that they didn’t have the heart or the talent. It’s that they were emotionally and spiritually drained, and under the circumstances, who can blame them?

They overachieved all year. They improved from beginning to end. They fought hard even when they were playing their best and managed what seemed like victory after victory from the jaws of defeat.

They became winners. By anyone’s standards this was a championship year, a championship team, and more importantly a real leap forward for the program as a whole.

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Sports

Arkansas Alabama: Selfish Quarterback and Horrible Defensive Game Plan

It’s like a guy trying to make the highlight films at the expense of his team.

Update 10/27/27 I will take one thing back. I watched the replay. On that last interception DJ was open. Mallet simply lofted way over his head. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it got away from him and floated. Today on “Shawn and Wally” Wally also said it was 3rd and 11 instead of 2nd and 1, which also would make a big difference.
So, if that’s the case, I’ll take it back on that one that he was going for “heroics” against the odds. Because DJ was clearly open.  Still, I stand by my criticism of the first two. The second was especially the killer. Deep in our own territory with the lead, throwing into double coverage to a guy who wasn’t even looking for the ball. That gave them the lead. Also, I still stand by my defense criticism, unless I feel like watching the whole game over and see something that convinces me otherwise.

Yeah, the Mallet interceptions were bad, especially that last one on a 2nd and 1 with plenty of time left. I mean c’mon! Run it or fall on it if no one’s open, don’t loft it up in desperation like its 4 and forever with :03 left. And there’s also the sense of Mallet’s unfocused nature to finish. I’m thinking of that drive in the first half where we’re in the red zone and he forces it to a guy not open covered soundly by two Bama defenders. It’s like a guy trying to make the highlight reels at the expense of his team. The other interception in the 2nd half was the same way: guy’s not open over the middle, well covered by two defenders and he tries to thread the needle to be heroic, and it pretty much costs us the game. I mean we were leading at that point for heaven’s sake! The point is to win the game, not try to gamble on some outrageous throw to make yourself look good. That really felt selfish.

But to me the biggest mistake was really our defensive game plan. Almost the whole game we were lined up in a three man front against 7 hulks. It was like we were defending for a passing offense. Mclroy could have read a book back there with all the time we gave him. The one time I saw us blitz we actually stopped a crucial third down when Bama was deep in our territory that forced a field goal. Instead for most of the game he gashed us to death, which in turn only opened up everything for already the best running game in college football. Looked like we were in a “prevent” defense for most of the game. Instead we should have been pressuring, playing for the ball like some fighting Razorbacks. If we had played defense like that, I think we could have made a lot more stops and possibly won going away.

Tiger Woods’ always said the key to his success, what his father always instilled in him was that “You gotta finish.” Booming drives and heroic, highlight film quality iron shots aside, he knew the key was “bringing it to the house.”

Highlight films mean very little when the other team finishes the game with more points than you do.

I can take losing this game, what I can’t take, what’s keeping me up in the middle of the night, is how we played it.