FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No one has to tell Arkansas guard Hjalte Froholdt about Frank Ragnow’s career pancake blocks or the number of sacks allowed or Ragnow’s status as an All-American. He’s played the with the man for two years. Now, it’s his job to take over for him.
Not positionally, mind you. Arkansas’ left guard is the only man on the Razorbacks offensive line to have played the same position every game this season. Arkansas has started eight – Froholdt, Ragnow, Colton Jackson, Paul Ramirez, Brian Wallace, Johnny Gibson, Ty Clary, Zach Rogers – different guys on the front. Every one of them, except the Dane, has played in at least two different spots.
That makes Froholdt the de facto leader of the group. The man who was a defensive tackle just about 20 months ago, is now the most stable and experienced offensive linemen on the team. That sentence alone gives a glimpse into the status of the of the Razorbacks front.
“A lot of guys have been leaning on Frank as kind of the centerpiece of this unit,” Froholdt said. “Frank was one of the only strong voices in the room. This has become a springboard for some guys to step up and try to take that leader role.”
Coach Bret Bielema announced Ragnow would miss the rest of the season, including any potential bowl game, after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Saturday’s loss to Auburn. Ragnow played through the injury so well, though, almost no one outside the Arkansas sideline knew he was even hurt that game. The injury ended his Razorbacks career after four seasons as a starter.
Froholdt, like Ragnow, started every game last year and has done the same this season. Most of them directly to Ragnow’s left. Now at center against Ole Miss this weekend, it’ll likely be Rogers, who was a promising recruit – like most of the offensive line – but has not seen much of the field yet.
The loss of Ragnow likely means the Arkansas offensive line doesn’t get better. Almost assuredly it means it gets worse. But if Froholdt’s attitude and approach carry over to the rest of his cohorts in the unit, the Arkansas front should, at least, start to look functional, anyway.