Razorbacks need time to heal

FAYETTEVILLE — It seems unfathomable for the Arkansas Razorbacks beyond Saturday’s non-conference game at BYU until next week’s Oct. 22 opener.

You could almost excuse them if they do.

“We need to get healthy,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman told the Razorback Sports Network on Saturday after the Razorbacks’ 40-17 loss to No. 23 Mississippi State. “Obviously we’re playing a big game at BYU (in Provo, Utah) next week. We need to find a way to win this game and then have a week off and hopefully get some of our players back.

At Arkansas’ injury spell, the teams will sing “Cry Me a River.”

It’s midseason college football. Every team suffers.

Look around the SEC. Four teams started backup quarterbacks last Saturday because their starting quarterbacks were injured the previous week.

Arkansas star quarterback KJ Jefferson, injured in the head in the Oct. 1 loss to Alabama, was among the inactives.

Arkansas didn’t lose in Starkville, Mississippi, because of the quarterback. Transfer Cade Fortin, practicing best last week, Pittman said, started but was replaced in the second series by 2021 replacement Malik Hornsby.

Hornsby didn’t play perfectly – two interceptions in the fourth quarter and an incomplete fastball on the goal line when a substitution could have scored – but he played admirably.

Good enough to win on 8 of 17 for 234 yards and a touchdown pass, and a team-leading 114 rushing on 8 carries.

A string of secondary injuries, starting late in the season to 2020 All-American season opener Jalen Catalon, proved the most significant. Nickel back/safety Myles Slusher stayed home injured. Battlefield-promoted reservists Jayden Johnson and Khari Johnson were injured on Saturday.

An acclaimed genius when his plan in Starkville of passing three times and going back eight thwarted Mississippi State the previous two seasons, Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is now under fire for that plan last Saturday.

Odom So 2022 amplified the passing rush with four linemen down and versatile transfer linebacker Drew Sanders as Arkansas led the SEC in sacks. But with Will Rogers hard to fire due to his lightning-quick release and exhausted high school in need of help, Sanders remained in the cover.

The running game that Mississippi State has now but not in 2020 and 2021 — plus Rogers, outstanding and bettered by Arkansas, near misses on possible four interceptions become zero — proved too much.

So does Arkansas’ offensive inability to convert the fourth and runs him.

“We couldn’t convert situations and they did,” Pittman said.

Last year’s 9-4 Hogs overcame a three-game losing streak.

Can these 3-3 Hogs?

“We need a week off,” Pittman said. “But we don’t have that. We have BYU on Saturday. We will go up there and we will believe that we will win. It’s like that.

About Joyce Hill

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