Razorbacks can't laugh off another big loss
Sep 30, 2012 (Menafn - The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --There were no YouTube moments and no smiles from Arkansas' head football coach John L. Smith after the Razorbacks' latest thrashing.
Smith, his players and assistant coaches were somber as they discussed a 58-10 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday at Kyle Field. There were no signs of the eccentric behavior Smith exhibited two weeks earlier when he told media members to smile at his weekly press conference after the Alabama Crimson Tide hammered the Hogs 52-0.
"We have to turn the page and get ready for Auburn," Smith said. "We've got a lot of young guys playing and made a lot of mistakes, but [there are] no excuses. We've got to go back to work and get better.
"Quit isn't in our vocabulary. You can't allow it to be. That's one thing you learn in the game of football."
Arkansas began the season ranked 10th in the country. Even after the firing of former head coach Bobby Petrino following his affair with a member of the athletic department, the Razorbacks went into their opener entertaining thoughts of contending for Southeastern Conference and national titles.
The season began to come unwound in Game 2 when Arkansas lost at home to Louisiana-Monroe. That was followed by the Alabama rout, and then last week the Hogs lost their third consecutive home game, falling to Rutgers 35-26.
As the Razorbacks prepared to play A&M, qualifying for a bowl bid was the topic. That possibility remains, but Arkansas is 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the SEC with games remaining at South Carolina and Mississippi State, along with a home game against Louisiana State.
"It's hard," running back Knile Davis said. "Losing hurts real bad and you don't want to do anything. I don't even want to leave the house. We've got to get better, man. We've got to continue to fight. The season's going south, but you've got to continue to resurrect it."
Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson had criticized his teammates and said some quit during the loss to Alabama, which Wilson missed because of concussion symptoms. After the loss to A&M, Wilson didn't accuse anybody of quitting, but he did criticize the Razorbacks' mentality.
"It was a step back today," Wilson said. "It was back to where it was against Alabama, unfortunately. We had progress last week. Early we came out in this game and marched the ball right down the field. We had good body language, I thought. Everybody was ready to go. Unfortunately things started to go a little bit sour and you start to see that [affecting players], myself included."
Wilson, who had tormented the Aggies in previous Arkansas victories, completed 29 of 59 passes for 373 yards with one touchdown. The senior quarterback took little pleasure in the yardage, the second-most for Wilson this season behind 419 against Rutgers.
"You don't get points for yardage," Wilson said. "You get points for touchdowns, and we didn't have very many of those."
The Aggies intercepted Wilson twice, the first time during the closest thing to a pivotal sequence to be found a 48-point loss. Arkansas trailed 13-10 in the second quarter and was driving toward a potential go-ahead touchdown. Wilson connected with Brandon Mitchell for an 18-yard gain that would have given the Hogs a first down at the 8. However, the play was wiped out for an illegal formation penalty because the Hogs didn't have enough players at the line of scrimmage.
Two plays later, A&M safety Steven Terrell intercepted a Wilson pass and returned it 24 yards to midfield. A&M scored in three plays to take a 20-10 lead.
Arkansas had 11 more possessions and didn't score on any.
"I think [the penalty] and the turnover were the two biggest momentum changers in the game," Smith said. "That really hurt. We can't do that. We've got to at least be able to line up on the line of scrimmage."
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