"The road to Easy Street winds through the sewer"— John Madden
As has been written in this space before, the Razorbacks, and their loyal fans, are in the midst of a season where progress is measured in things other than victories. The pill tasted bitter again Saturday at Ole Miss, but there are signs things will get better.
First, there’s the continued steady play of guys like Alex Collins and Hunter Henry. Then there’s the emergence of a player like Brooks Ellis at middle linebacker. All three are freshmen, with their best days yet to come.
As a team, the Hogs competed hard Saturday. The first quarter produced a 51-yard Zach Hocker field goal, the first career sack for defensive lineman DeMarcus Hodge, and a 25-yard reception by Keon Hatcher. Before halftime, the Hog defense produced a goal-line stand that forced the Rebels to settle for a field goal, and when Kiero Small scored from a yard out early in the third quarter to pull the Razorbacks within 20-17, it felt like the Hogs were in it to win it.
Yes, Ole Miss hit some big plays in the second half that allowed them to put the game away, but Alan Turner intercepted a pass for the defense’s first pick in conference play, and Eric Bennett’s take away late in the fourth quarter at least kept things interesting.
There was also the reemergence of wide receiver Julian Horton, who caught four passes, including one for a touchdown. Horton had been in his coach’s doghouse, and was all but banished to the end of the bench. He worked his way back into the rotation in practice, and showed his stuff when he got another chance.
Two games remain, and the possibility for a great moment to occur still exists. It hasn’t happened yet, but it isn’t for a lack of effort. Nobody’s let go of the rope, and that gives them a shot.