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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim (3) chases Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham during a game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. - Photo by Ben Goff

AUBURN, Ala. -- After the loss to North Texas, Chad Morris was more than unhappy. He was ticked off.

The University of Arkansas head football coach called his team together last Sunday and did exactly what his players needed. He chewed butt.

He was sick and tired of some of the things he was seeing and hearing, and he let his team know it wasn't acceptable or the way to win games.

A lack of discipline had been gnawing at him. The complaining about hard practices was getting on his last nerve. So he objectively critiqued his Razorbacks. Loudly at times.

Word of the meeting spread fast -- and while it may never be admitted -- it was exactly what Morris needed to do. On Saturday night, for the first time this season, the Arkansas Razorbacks showed improvement.

The Hogs were better everywhere but on special teams, which were un-special enough to handcuff the Hogs start to finish. The 34-3 score was not indicative of how well the Razorbacks played. Special-teams play dictated that final score.

A week after giving up a touchdown on a punt because they didn't play through the whistle -- and which was replayed on Good Morning America -- the final straw was giving up a touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return that made it 24-3.

Some, mostly Auburn fans, will say the Tigers were hungover from the 22-21 loss to LSU the previous week.

The truth was Arkansas was as good as Auburn. The defense played well enough to win, and the offense was better.

The defense was tossed in deep waters because of a lack of execution by special teams, but the unit fought cohesively perhaps for the first time this season.

Still, the Razorbacks couldn't have shot themselves in the foot more in the first half if they had extra clips of ammo.

Auburn had to drive only 27 yards for its first touchdown after a 35-yard punt was returned 48 yards. The Tigers went 1 yard for a field goal after a fumble that was returned to the UA 2. The second-quarter touchdown was a drive of 9 yards after an 8-yard punt was deflected and returned 11 yards.

It was a startling statistic that determined Auburn led 17-0 at halftime -- the Razorbacks averaged 29 yards per punt. The Tigers averaged 29.5 yards per punt return.

Arkansas would have been better off to go for it on fourth down every time.

Just 10 months ago, the UA went after Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn -- a native of Fort Smith and former Razorback assistant -- to replace Bret Bielema.

Malzahn, who had just beat rival Alabama, kept his cards close to his vest, but it was known around here he was wanting a contract extension and a raise. He also believes Auburn gives him his best chance to win a national championship.

After Saturday night, no one should say the Razorbacks didn't end up with the right coach.

Morris and defensive coordinator John Chavis had a great game plan. Arkansas didn't have enough sustained offensive drives, but the Hogs won the battle in the trenches and on many of the stats except the one that counts the most.

That one is in lights on the scoreboard and determines winners and losers.

Saturday night was not a moral victory for Morris. He doesn't believe in those.

What he believes in is hard work, performance and a winning attitude, and that message was made loud and clear last Sunday.

This season isn't over for the Hogs if they build off of last night's performances on offense and defense, but they have to get more mentally and physically tough. And special-teams play has to improve immediately.

Sports on 09/23/2018

Print Headline: Hogs respond to perturbed Morris' message

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  • Delta2
    September 23, 2018 at 7:48 a.m.

    "Some, mostly Auburn fans, will say the Tigers were hungover from the 22-21 loss to LSU the previous week."

    "The truth was Arkansas was as good as Auburn."

    Which one of those does anyone not named Wally Hall really believe? Or is not covering the spread at home as a favorite against a Conference USA team, then not covering the spread on the road as an underdog against an SEC team really something that should be considered and improvement?

    Blind, rear-kissing homerism at its finest.

  • HarleyOwner
    September 23, 2018 at 12:06 p.m.

    Gosh, I feel all better now about us getting our butt kicked again.

  • hurricane46
    September 23, 2018 at 1:23 p.m.

    "The truth was Arkansas was as good as Auburn", what game was Wally watching.

  • Messidona
    September 23, 2018 at 4:27 p.m.

    "After Saturday night, no one should say the Razorbacks didn't end up with the right coach."

    Wallace, you've gone right past being an embarrassment, to straight up delusional. Ive called for your retirement many times over the last several years, but at this point im really wondering what does it take for the newspaper brass to say enough is enough and step in and right the ship?

  • levystevy
    September 24, 2018 at 7:44 a.m.

    1-3 start is unacceptable, whether coaching or players. To allow opponents to score as many points as the Hogs do is not good. We haven’t just lost games, we have been beaten. I don’t see win #2 coming anytime soon.

  • MaxCady
    September 24, 2018 at 10:28 a.m.

    Practices too hard??!! Sounds like the Bielema regime was lax on discipline and work ethic. No surprise seeing how Bielema gained probably 100 lbs during his tenure.

  • GeneralMac
    September 24, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    The score should have been 41-7 as Auburn got a bogus " blocking in the back " call that resulted in a long run back brought back.

    The only reason it wasn't 55-3 or 62-3 was Auburn's offense was totally out of synch in the entire 1st half.

  • wolfman
    September 24, 2018 at 10:54 a.m.

    The fans need to stop being fair weather fans and get behind them. Cheer them on, encourage. All i see are fans that just want to support them when they are winning!

  • drs01
    September 24, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.

    No coach can successfully transition from a Big 10 offense (BB) to a jitter-bug, up tempo high school offense in one year with the wrong kind of players.
    But, coaches can eliminate stupid mistakes, and that needs to happen. I believe we will continue losing, but hope we will stop embarrassing ourselves by playing stupid.

  • arkateacher54
    September 24, 2018 at 6:25 p.m.

    Our defense played pretty well, offense was better, decent even, special teams were very bad, Auburn won 34-3. No we were not as good as Auburn. But this week we were better than No Texas. Too bad we played them last week. We are getting better. I just hope by the time we get past defending champions Alabama Eagles (or is it Philadelphia Crimson Tide?) we will be improved enough to be competitive and even win a couple against the rest of our schedule.