State of the Hogs: Too Late

Arkansas brought the intensity in the second half, but the hole was just too deep.

Damario Ambrose waited until Bobby Petrino and his coaching staff gave it to the Razorbacks at halftime. Then the senior defensive end put it in his words.

"I think we were worried too much about scheme, technique, fundamentals and forgot to play," Ambrose said. "I just told the guys that what we were doing wasn't what we had done for the last 12 games.

"I don't talk much. I'm not a rah-rah guy. But I told the guys that it was time to put their hand on the ground and turn it loose, get after someone. Just go get someone.

"I think we talked so much about preparations that we forgot about effort."

Ambrose urged his teammates to leave it all on the field in the second half. They did. It just wasn't enough.

"I have had such a great time at Arkansas," Ambrose said. "I think so many of us came here not knowing what to expect and I just fell in love with the state. It happened so quickly, too, the first time running through the 'A' in my first game.

"We've been knocked down so many times. We got back up so many times. We got back up when we were knocked down by a great Ohio State team. We just didn't quite do enough.

"What I can tell you is the seniors aren't through. We want to help these young guys a little more over the next few months to get things going the right way for next year. It's not over for the Razorbacks. It's only going to get better."

Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said the halftime locker room was about challenging the players. The 28-10 deficit wasn't so much the focus as the lack of intensity.

"That's what we talked about, not the score," McGee said. "We didn't come out with intensity in the first half. We got after them. We weren't playing like we play. We were floating around.

"We told them they had to get aggressive and take it to them. In the first half, Ohio State was the aggressive team. They were making plays, going up and getting the ball and making catches. Our guys usually go get the ball, but we didn't in the first half."

Wide receiver Joe Adams nodded his head in agreement when that assessment was repeated.

"We made a few plays, but we also had missed opportunities," he said. "I can't believe we had that many missed chances. I had some. I sure did.

"Still, we were right there. I thought we had them at the end after the blocked punt. I would have thought for sure that was our game, but we didn't finish it off. No, I thought they were dead and we had them.

"I think we just came out too slow in the first half. Everyone came together at halftime. But Ohio State is good. Give them credit. They did what they had to do to win the game and we didn't."

Tight end D. J. Williams made plays to ignite the Hogs several times. He made a spectacular reach to get the ball across the goal line for a two-point conversion that cut the lead to 31-21 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter, but there would be no more touchdowns.

"We just didn't play Arkansas football soon enough," Williams said. "We did climb out of the hole for the most part, just didn't put the game away at the end when it was right there.

"I think what we did at halftime was look each other in the eye and say we were going to do it. I just think we decided to play football in the second half, all of us."

There were a lot of questions in the second half about Ryan Mallett's interception, the game's only turnover. Williams wouldn't hear of that.

"The last play?" he repeated. "No, let's talk about the one before that. Ryan threw it to me and I dropped it. It was right to me. I catch that, we are rolling and it's probably going to be a victory for us. I dropped it.

"I can't believe that. I'm going to remember that one for a long time. There's no telling what we would have done if I had caught that one. That's the one I'll remember and that's not the way you want to go out."

However, Williams didn't stick with the misery of the drop for long.

"I think we did go out fighting," he said. "I think there are two ways you can respond to a first half like we had. You can either ball up in a fetal position, or you can fight. We chose to fight."

It was a fight, too. The offensive line had its collective hands full with a physical Ohio State front. Petrino said it was a case of just playing better in the offensive front. The Hogs had trouble with OSU defensive end Cameron Heyward in the first half.

"Their defensive front did pretty good against our offensive front," Petrino said. "We knew they had a pretty good bull rush. In our league, we see quickness and speed. We don't see a lot of the bull rush.

"They gave us negative plays with their defensive line and we pride ourselves on not going backwards.

"I thought our offensive line played better in the second half. Heyward is a great player. It wasn't so much that we did a lot of things different as it was we did them better. We just blocked him better."

Offensive tackles Ray Dominguez and DeMarcus Love said they did change their approach a little. They went a little lower.

"Give them credit," Love said. "They have good players, just like we knew. We did a better job in the first half. We did go a little lower. Against the bull rush, you have to get lower."

Dominguez said, "It was some of that, but it was also understanding that they were playing some line games up front. We'd seen them do that on third down, but not on first and second, too. We had to make some mental adjustments to that on the early downs and we did that at halftime."

But it might not have been anything more than turning up the heat at halftime.

"I think that was it," defensive end Jake Bequette said. "I think we told ourselves we couldn't play any worse and we had enough of it. Some guys like Damario Ambrose and some other seniors did some talking and we followed their lead in the second half."

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