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October 12, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - For Arkansas players, Saturday's 52-7 loss to South Carolina served as an exclamation point to their struggles over the past two seasons. Arkansas hasn't won an SEC game in seven tries, dating back to Oct. 13, 2012, and the wait for their next win could get longer when the Razorbacks travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., next week to face the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
"We're still looking for that first win," said sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen. "It's not an easy conference, that's for sure, but there's a lot of things that we didn't do right to get this win, so we've got to work on that."
Allen, who completed just four of 12 passes for 30 yards, said it's disappointing to have gone so long without finding success, and Saturday's game didn't help to ease that frustration. The Razorbacks committed three turnovers and managed just 248 yards of total offense in a game where nothing seemed to go their way.
"It was very frustrating," Allen said. "A lot of things didn't go right. A lot of things weren't clicking. Any time that happens, it's frustrating as an offense and as a whole team."
Allen was quick to blame the offense for the game's outcome, saying they put the defense into bad spots with quick three-and-outs and by failing to chew up clock. South Carolina out-possessed Arkansas 43:25 to 16:35 and held the Razorbacks to just seven first downs.
"It's a losing formula any way you look at it," Allen said.
Freshman tailback Alex Collins agreed, saying that the offense fell out of its rhythm after a few setbacks early in the game. The SEC's leading rusher entering Saturday, Collins was held to 69 yards on 10 carries against South Carolina. He said the offense failed to put together long possessions - like their seven-play first-quarter touchdown drive - that would have given the team a chance.
"After (Victor Hampton's) interception, we kept doing the same thing we've been doing," Collins said. "We just couldn't get a rhythm going; we couldn't get back on that track we were on on that first drive. It cost us. We've got to get back on that rhythm. We've got to keep winning on first downs."
But Arkansas' defensive players weren't ready to let the offense shoulder all of the blame. Senior defensive end Chris Smith, who recorded seven tackles, was embarrassed with the way the defense played. The Razorbacks gave up 537 total yards and 32 first downs to the Gamecocks and forced just one punt all game. Smith was especially bothered that South Carolina converted all five of its five fourth-down attempts.
"We put that on the defense," said Smith. "I think they got five out of five on fourth down, which is not acceptable. That's one of those things we want to clean up in practice -we will clean up in practice."
Chris Smith praised South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw for coming up with big plays and said he was impressive with Mike Davis' ability to capitalize on Arkansas mistakes.
"That's how they got some of those big plays, especially Davis," Smith said of Arkansas' misalignments. "If one person is out of line of out of their gap, he's going to take it. He's a great running back."
Freshman defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., who finished with one sack and a fumble recovery, voiced a similar, but more critical opinion of Davis and the Arkansas defense.
"He wasn't doing anything spectacular," Wise Jr. said. "He was just running through his gaps. He had great blocks. We didn't tackle effectively. We've practiced all week and all year how to tackle. Really, he just took advantage of us poor tackling and he outran us."
Arkansas leading tackler Jarrett Lake said the passing defense wasn't much better. The senior linebacker said the Razorback secondary struggled to adjust while multiple South Carolina quarterbacks picked them apart for 260 passing yards and four touchdowns.
"Our purpose really was to protect them from the deep balls, the deep balls we were getting beat on at the beginning of the year," Lake said. "And now it seems like they're just picking apart our defense and finding every little thing. When we try to adjust, they just found something else."
"Just blown coverage, our eyes were bad all the way around," Lake added. "We didn't get any pressure on the quarterback. It was just all 11 guys not doing what they were supposed to do."
But Arkansas' players said the key moving forward is not getting discouraged over one loss. Smith said that Arkansas must turn their sadness and embarrassment into "that mindset now that we can't have this happen again."
"It's very disappointing - everybody hates to lose, and things of that nature," Smith said. "We have to move on. It's a tough stretch, and we've got to go to Alabama - tough environment next week. We just can't dwell on this one. We've got to get better and watch the film and move on to practice."
Wise Jr. said his teammates have "moxy," and that they will know how to fight back from this loss.
"We've just got to go back to the meeting room, start from scratch all over again, see what we messed up on, and ball another day," Wise Jr. said.
Allen said the Razorbacks are already looking forward to playing the nation's number one team in Bryant-Denny Stadium next week. After the tough loss, Allen said they are focused on getting better in the long term.
"That'll get everybody going for practice, it'll get everybody fired up," Wise Jr. "We know the direction we're trying to go, and we just keep working towards it."
Senior fullback Kiero Small, Arkansas leading receiver with two catches for 4 yards, said it's been a long time since they've won a conference game, but they aren't counting themselves out even for next week.
"Try and win one," Small said. "Just focus on winning one at a time."
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