FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The 2017 Arkansas Razorbacks are 2-5, 0-4 in SEC play. That’s an extremely disappointing start regardless of the circumstances. With that being said, injuries have significantly impacted the Hogs and are decimating their chances of turning things around.
Coach Bret Bielema announced Monday that center Frank Ragnow and running back Chase Hayden will miss the rest of the season due to injury. Ragnow is widely considered one of the top offensive linemen in the nation and Hayden is the Hogs’ leading rusher.
Arkansas has now lost its top player at a position six times in the last six months. Here’s the timeline of Arkansas’ key injuries over that time:
- April 29: Junior running back Rawleigh Williams III retires from football following a neck injury sustained in the Hogs’ final spring scrimmage. Williams led the SEC in rushing (1,326 yards) during the 2016 regular season.
- Aug. 31: Junior cornerback Ryan Pulley suffers a right pectoral tear in a win over Florida A&M and is out for the season. Pulley was Arkansas’ top returning defensive back.
- Sept. 23: Senior wide receiver Jared Cornelius ruptures his left Achilles in a loss to Texas A&M and is out for the season. Cornelius was Arkansas’ top returning wide receiver.
- Oct. 7: Senior quarterback Austin Allen leaves Arkansas’ loss at South Carolina due to a right shoulder injury and is out indefinitely. To this point, he’s missed two games and is expected to miss a third Saturday. Allen is a two-year starter and a preseason All-SEC selection by the coaches.
- Oct. 21: Senior center Frank Ragnow (ankle) and freshman running back Chase Hayden (leg) are lost for the season due to injuries sustained in a loss to Auburn. Ragnow is a four-year contributor. He was considered a leading candidate for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top center. Hayden was Arkansas’ leading rusher at the time of his injury.
Asked about the injuries Monday, Bielema couldn’t recall a time he’d been dealt such circumstances in 11 seasons as a head coach.
“Usually you’re going to have a couple in the preseason,” Bielema said. “You may get one or two during the course of the year. But to have running back, wide receiver, quarterback, best offensive lineman — maybe the best offensive player on our team — you know it’s just … it’s not anything more than reality. You’ve got to step up and play and see where it goes from there.”
Bielema isn’t going to use the injuries as an excuse for the losses this season. And most fans certainly don’t want to hear it framed that way. But these injuries have been devastating, and shouldn’t be overlooked when evaluating the Hogs’ 2017 season.