Arkansas caught the injury bug before the season even started, and it hasn’t gotten better as the season has progressed. The Razorbacks have already lost Knile Davis for the season, Tenarius Wright for the next four to six weeks and Jake Bequette likely until after the Texas A&M game this weekend. In addition, Arkansas has sustained minor injuries to Tyler Wilson, Jarius Wright, and Isaac Madison which have been recovered from (at least for the time being). Broderick Green, who was previously thought to be out for the season may end up coming back this season, but not immediately.
That is a lot of injuries, but it isn’t an excuse. Oh, how times have changed in Razorback country.
It should be noted, talent is more easily replaceable than experience and leadership. Chris Smith, who is a talented player can make up for some of the production lost with Tenarius Wright, but he wasn’t a team captain and four-year starter. Arkansas has had to account for the loss of two defensive team captains and one offensive team captain. Their absence has made a considerable difference.
Whether or not being at full strength against Alabama would have made a considerable difference is debatable. But there is no denying the Razorbacks need that leadership and experience on the field to meet expectations of a 10-win season.
Davis’ absence at running back is apparent, as Arkansas went from being a consistently productive offense on the ground to being completely incapable of moving the football on the ground. Against the Crimson Tide, the Razorbacks had a mere 17 yards on 19 carries.
This has led Petrino to state the team has no offensive identity and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee to question the team’s competitive spirit.
Something must change.
This is not insurmountable. Arkansas can have a great season if they adapt and revive the hunger and desire to prove they are an elite offense rather than just simply complacently accept the mantle.
Being a great football team comes from a number of factors Arkansas has a program has worked to build over the last three seasons. In order to ensure they do not disappoint however, they will have to add another to the list of requirements; adapt to the loss of key playmakers.
Arkansas is in a must win situation this weekend against Texas A&M. Arkansas still has considerable talent. In fact, they have more talent than the Aggies, but someone must step up in a leadership role in order to beat a team that executes exceptionally well.
We’ll see whether or not Arkansas can shake the injury bug the way some teams have in the past. Green Bay was able to win a Super Bowl after sustaining what seemed like an insurmountable amount of injuries. If Arkansas doesn’t their win total could plummet to as low as seven or eight. LSU has had to overcome the injury bug and the our-players-kicked-a-marine-in-the-face bug and have been dominant all season long. But the Tigers also have a great immune system, or as it’s called in college football: depth.
Arkansas will need answers from somewhere else. Otherwise it will be a disappointing season for the Razorbacks.
TJ Carpenter is host of The TJ Carpenter Show on The Hog Sports Radio Network from 1-4pm (listen live at www.hogsportsradio.com) TJ Carpenter contributes to www.mrsec.com www.arkansassports360.com and www.collegefootballnews.com