Andy Hodges

Reports of Razorbacks’ wallowing in cellar may prove to be completely wrong

Arkansas’ win Saturday got everybody’s attention, but many are blaming Mississippi State more than giving the Hogs credit on the national scale.

The best example is Auburn is now a 14.5-point favorite this week despite being almost even with the Hogs in stats against a common opponent and a similar opponent.

It’s dropped a couple of points since opening and will probably continue to fall.

But even Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara (who picked the Hogs to beat Mississippi State a couple of weeks ago) thinks his season prediction may have been a little off.

“They can play with some teams much better than people thought,” O’Gara told Phil Elson, Matt Jenkins and Matt Travis (Halftime) on ESPN Arkansas on Monday afternoon. “Much better than at any point in the Chad Morris era.”

Sorry to bring up bad memories, but that was an 0-14 run that would have been 0-16 if Morris hadn’t been fired with two games left to play last season.

“I realize that’s not saying much,” O’Gara said.

As hard as that is to swallow for some fans, it’s accurate. Until this team backs up the win over the Bulldogs with a solid effort nobody’s going to give them much credit.

But some of the national media are starting to scratch their heads.

“It looks like a team that’s well-prepared and actually knows how to adjust to it’s competition,” O’Gara said. “There’s going to be teams that make offensive mistakes and Arkansas now looks like a team in position to take advantage of that.”

The win over Mississippi State was the only one he saw the Razorbacks getting this season and now, well, he’s re-thinking that.

“I’m starting to think 1-9 was under-estimating this team,” O’Gara said. “This is about as good a start as you could hope for if you’re an Arkansas fan.”

He made the point as good as the Hogs’ defense was against the Bulldogs, they probably can’t shut down the Tigers like Georgia did.

Yeah, the Hogs’ defense isn’t like the Bulldogs but they are comparable to Kentucky and the Wildcats might have won the season opener against the Tigers if not for some questionable officials’ calls.

At least that’s what they’re saying in Lexington these days.

But let’s not forget the biggest problem Auburn has and that’s Morris running the offense for Gus Malzahn.

Morris hasn’t done anything at the college level since he left Clemson. Considering the Tigers’ offense improved with the guys under Morris when he was there it’s really hard to give Chad much credit there.

When Malzahn has won down on The Plains it’s been with a defense that was equal to Georgia, but he hasn’t consistently recruited at that level and there is some rumbling that’s going to require some wins to calm it down.

Now the Hogs will be coming to face their former coach and Sam Pittman sorta shrugged all that off, but he knows it’s probably going to be some motivation for certain players.

Most of Arkansas’ roster only knows Malzahn by reputation.

They know Morris because he recruited most of the current roster.

And he was so popular nobody has complained when he was fired. Interestingly, no players have appeared particularly sorry to see him leave town.

But that won’t be the biggest factor.

Barry Odom’s defense will be interesting because it will probably be different from the approach against the Air Raid offense.

Morris’ offense at Auburn appears to be stalled down in the left lane.

Just like it was in Fayetteville for two seasons.

 

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