ARLINGTON, Texas — Arkansas center — or is it right guard? — Frank Ragnow trekked into the interview room in the bowels of AT&T Stadium late Saturday night to face the music for his unit’s performance.
The media session only lasted around five minutes, but Ragnow displayed a range of emotions throughout it. At times, he seemed defensive. At others, resolute.
But perhaps his most powerful — and telling — answers seeped with emotion.
“I know I have a guy — a warrior — behind me that’s gonna keep on fighting,” Ragnow said. “It better impact every one of us.
“If you’re a guy and it’s not bothering you, then you’ve gotta take a long, hard look at you, and maybe you shouldn’t be in that position.”
Arkansas fell apart in the fourth quarter Saturday and lost a seemingly winnable game, 45-24, to Texas A&M. Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight’s 92-yard touchdown pass and two long touchdown runs were the highlights, but make no mistake: The bulk of the blame for this loss must be laid at the feet of Arkansas’ offensive linemen, who couldn’t protect quarterback Austin Allen and weren’t tough enough near the goal line.
Consider this: The Arkansas offense ran 17 plays inside the Texas A&M 10-yard line. Ten of those snaps were runs and the Hogs gained a net of 4 yards on them.
There are those who will argue — with good reason — that Allen scored on his third-down sneak late in the third quarter. Heck, Allen is one of those people.
“I do think I got in,” he said. “I think the whole stadium thought I got in. I don’t know what it was, but it was just something we left on the field and we’ve got to capitalize next time.”
Game officials reviewed the play and determined he didn’t score, but regardless, it went down in the official record as one of 8 Arkansas rushes Saturday night that went for “no gain.”
“I’m gonna have to go look back at film and see what we didn’t execute and whatnot, but I’d hope it’s not effort,” Ragnow said. “I think it’s not an effort thing. It’s just execution.”
Many will — and already have — pointed out that putting too much blame on Arkansas’ offensive line takes away from the excellence of Texas A&M’s defensive front. And it’s true that the Aggies boast one of the most talented defensive lines in the country.
But these problems crept up for Arkansas in its three previous games, too. So much so that Bielema and offensive line coach Kurt Anderson saw fit to swap Ragnow and right guard Jake Raulerson’s positions last week against Texas State, then switch them back a week later.
Colton Jackson started the first three games at right tackle before Brian Wallace took over against the Aggies.
There are other guys on the roster who competed for starting jobs during the preseason — guys like Zach Rogers and Paul Ramirez — so maybe they will get a closer look this week.
The Razorbacks get a brief reprieve next weekend, when they face FCS opponent Alcorn State in Little Rock. But after that, the Hogs face Alabama, Ole Miss, (at) Auburn, Florida and LSU in their next five games.
Can Arkansas get its offensive line problem figured out in time to win some of those?
“There’s still some young guys up there on the offensive line,” Allen said. “It’s the first SEC game. They’re going to get better. I have full faith in them.
“They love football and they play hard. That’s all you can really ask, because they want to get better. Our whole team will.”
They’d better, because if they don’t, wins and losses will be the least of Allen’s problems.