FAYETTEVILLE – With former Arkansas Razorbacks star defensive back-punter of the 1964 national championship team and Razorbacks 1984-89 coach Ken Hatfield most prominently among them, several former Razorbacks showed support for the current Razorbacks during their present hard times.
Barry Lunney Jr., the interim coach of these 2-8 overall, 0-6 in the SEC Razorbacks since the Nov. 10 open date week firing of second-year coach Chad Morris and preparing Arkansas to play Coach Ed Orgeron’s nationally No. 1 LSU Tigers, 10-0, 6-0, in Saturday’s 6 p.m. ESPN televised SEC West game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., reported that Hatfield and former Razorbacks Matt Wait, James Johnson, Bryan “Buddha” White, Joe Dean Davenport, Grant Cook, Austin Tate and Tim Smith all visited Wednesday’s practice.
“Some guys that care about the program that came and we got the chance to acknowledge them before practice,” Lunney said. “And man that means the world to us and to me and our football team.”
Lunney said he asked all to introduce themselves and the years they played.
“Of course Coach Hatfield introduced himself as 1962-64 player,” Lunney said. “And I said, ‘That’s the most modest introduction in the history of Arkansas athletics. Because this guy right here was the all-time winningest football coach percentage wise in Arkansas football history. That’s who I grew up watching.”
Hatfield went 55-17-1 in his six years coaching the Hogs and currently is a member of the College Football Playoff Committee.
Sophomore starting linebacker Bumper Pool and backup offensive guard Kirby Adcock, not practicing during last week’s open week because of injuries, are “practicing and ready to roll,” Lunney said before Wednesday’s practice.
Lunney hasn’t divulged to media who among Arkansas’ four quarterbacks, true freshman KJ Jefferson, redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones or graduate transfers Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks, will start against LSU. He hasn’t divulged it to his inquiring sons, Luke and Levi, either.
“They tell me on the bus every day they (fellow students) have been asking who the quarterback is going to be,” Lunney said. “So if they don’t know, they do’t have to worry about hiding anything. Even in the Lunney household that doesn’t go all the way across to all family members.”
Few who played against last year’s 2-10 overall, 0-8 in the SEC Razorbacks would have any trepidation about playing this season’s 2-8, 0-6 Razorbacks.
Surprisingly, the nationally No. 1 LSU Tigers might be one.
Not trepidation perhaps, but at least an authentic recent history reminder that playing against Arkansas isn’t always so easy as it recently appears.
Despite last year’s Tigers going 10-3, 5-3 and closing the 2018 season nationally ranked sixth by the Associated Press and seventh in the Coaches poll, Arkansas in Fayetteville rallied from down 14-0 to pull to a final down 24-17 loss with Orgeron and the Tigers excited to run clock, hanging on.
“Don’t underestimate them,” Orgeron said during Wednesday’s SEC Media/Coaches teleconference. “They always play well against LSU. We have to play our best game. We’re looking at the things that we didn’t do well last week (a 58-37 SEC victory at Ole Miss). We still have to play 60 minutes at the LSU standard of performance and we haven’t done that yet. We have some things we need to fix offensively defensively and on special teams. Hopefully we can do that this week.”
Surprisingly, Orgeron does not include overconfidence that he must guard his team against playing the statistically hapless Hogs.
“ I think a regular team would have overconfidence and letdowns and stuff,” Orgeron said. “But you know we had a 21-point victory over Ole Miss and I think I was the only one happy in the locker room. The guys were not happy with their performance.”
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s part of the LSU equation could not have been thrilled with the Tigers allowing 614 yards total offense and 37 points.
Even while completing 32 of 42 for 489 yards and five touchdown, LSU quarterback and leading Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Burrows fretted two passes he wished to have back.
“Joe had two interceptions,” Orgeron said. “He was not happy. The defense was not happy. So we had one of our better Tuesday practices yesterday. I think it’s more or less right now, at this point of the season we’re competing with ourselves to play at the LSU standard of performance. Once we do that we feel we’re going to be fine.”
Arkansas senior defensive tackle McTelvin “Sosa” Agim will get an audition before NFL scouts as an invitee to play in the East-West Shrine game Jan. 18 in St. Petersburg, Fla.