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Even after a 63-35 loss to Florida, the one-year transformation of the Arkansas Razorbacks has been amazing.

After seven conference games last year, they were 0-7 in the league.

Chad Morris already had been fired. The 45-19 loss to Western Kentucky at home was the last straw. Earlier in the season, the Hogs had lost to San Jose State 31-24 in Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium.

Morris is a good guy, but he wasn't ready for the challenge of making Arkansas competitive in the SEC. Some time around the Auburn loss last season, he appeared to lose the team.

Obviously, Sam Pittman was primed for the chance to become a head coach.

A student of the game most of his life, he had studied what it takes to be a head coach at a variety of places.

Today, the Hogs are 3-4 and slight favorites to beat LSU on Saturday.

There are dozens of differences from last season to this season, but the three areas that stand out are defense, halftime adjustments and the signing of Feleipe Franks.

Barry Odom's defense gets tweaked every week to get as much help for the defenders as possible.

Most of the time the Hogs go with a three-man rush, which against quarterbacks such as Kellen Mond and Kyle Trask simply gave them too much time to find one of their many speedy receivers.

However, this season the Razorbacks have 13 interceptions by seven different players. They have 38 tackles for loss, and 17 players have contributed to those.

Not once this season has any player been seen taking even one down off. They are after it on every snap.

The two previous seasons, the Razorbacks seemed to take care of only personal business at the half, such as going to the restroom. What fans saw in the first half, they saw again in the second half.

In eight conference games a year ago, they were outscored six times in the second half. They tied the other two, but one of those was against Alabama, which was leading 41-0 at the half and called off the dogs.

No matter what the halftime score is this season, the Razorbacks come out in the second half with pep in their step, a gleam in their eye and a new way to attack or defend.

Then there's Franks.

One of the ESPN announcers Saturday said something about the knock on Franks is that he holds the ball a second too long while searching for an open receiver. If Franks had been playing for Florida, the announcer would have said he has the guts to stand in there and take a hit.

Pittman has been talking for months about Franks' leadership. Since practices and film sessions are closed, we will take his word for it, but it's also obvious on Saturdays.

Franks has command of the game.

Last season, it seemed like the starting quarterback was decided by drawing names out of a hat. There were five different starters.

Franks has started all seven games this season.

He has completed 138 of 202 passes (68.3%) for 1,678 yards and 16 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions. His quarterback rating is a very healthy 161.26.

He's accomplished that behind an offensive line that seems to shuffle continuously because of injuries.

Franks' skills and talent have been huge in the Hogs' three victories.

The Razorbacks' losses have been to current No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Florida, No. 13 Georgia and No. 23 Auburn. And they would have beaten Auburn if not for a miserable mistake by an official.

But Pittman is not satisfied. He's focused on the future and definitely not the past.

Pittman and his staff are headed in the right direction.


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