ATLANTA – The Arkansas Razorbacks shocked many critics and observers alike last season after finishing 9-4 with wins over these three Top 25 teams: Texas, Texas A&M and MIssissippi State.
The win against Texas A&M was their first win since 2012.
However, The next week, they traveled to Athens to face number two ranked Georgia. They were humiliated in a 37-0 loss, which was their first defeat of the season.
Razorback players spoke about how the loss to Georgia humbled them but prepared them for other opponents.
“I felt like it made us get back level-headed and remain humble,” said Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson. “I felt like we needed that. We bonded and got tighter and got back to work.
“I gave a lot of credit to Georgia, they had a lot of great players,” Razorbacks safety Jalen Catalon said. “At that point, we looked at it and thought that is where we wanted to be. We want to be a dominant football team like that. We just had to get better.”
Linebacker Bumper Pool echoed the same sentiments as his teammates but was glad they got the experience to help them grow.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We knew what it felt like to have a high ranking and play a team like that. Experience is truly important and helped us out (last) year.
This experience did not cultivate into wins overnight as they lost to 17 ranked Ole Miss and Auburn as their winning streak grew to three games.
This year, the Razorbacks will kick off their campaign against the Cincinnati Bearcats. A tough test as they face a Cincinnati team looking to establish their identity after an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
“We all just were bought in, locked in,” said Jefferson as he described the Razorbacks’ improved performance and his outlook on the upcoming campaign. “We all bought into the process and just believe in each other and come in with confidence and work hard every single day. To just come in and love one another and build that bond, not just on a football standpoint, but also on a personal level.”