Even as it reached the regular season midway point two games under .500, a refreshed Razorback football team can see a path to the postseason.
That obviously begins with Arkansas (2-4, 1-2) hosting Auburn (2-4, 1-2) in an 11 a.m. game on Saturday morning.
“We got to kick our feet up this weekend and got some good work last week,” Razorback senior quarterback Brandon Allen said. “We got our legs back under us and had a couple of good days so far this week so we are refreshed and ready to go.”
To get ready for the early kickoff, Arkansas - who is fall break on Monday and Tuesday - practiced at 11 a.m.
“We had a lot of energy and it was a really good practice today,” Allen said. “We were kind of getting our bodies use to an 11 o’clock game and that was kind of the main reason behind it today.
“I was very pleased with practice, no one out there was sluggish and we had a lot of energy and a lot of guys flying around.”
Arkansas actually went back to work on Sunday and Razorback assistant coach Barry Lunney, Jr., could see a clear difference.
“We had a really good practice on Sunday,” Lunney said. “They were fresh, their minds were focused and as a staff we were, too. You could definitely tell the break was good for us and helped us in our preparation.”
Arkansas junior tight end Hunter Henry (21 catches for 286 yards and one touchdown) saw the same energy.
“It was nice, really nice, to have a day off, a day-and-a-half off to get your legs back under you,” Henry said. “Just kind of lay around and relax a little bit.
“It kind of makes you want to get back out there. I think all of us were ready to get back in practice.”
Arkansas wide receiver Drew Morgan (27 catches for 428 yards and four touchdowns) echoed that sentiment.
“We were all due for a bye week,” Morgan said. “Our bodies were torn up. We had six games and most of them were away. We haven’t played at home in what seems like a year back in our stadium. It definitely going to be a good feeling to get back.”
Morgan believes a win over Auburn could jumpstart Arkansas’ season.
“It could be a good ignitor,” Morgan said. “We need that boost, we need that momentum, we need that confidence back.”
Morgan thought Arkansas had turned the corner with its 24-20 win at Tennessee, but that was washed away with a 27-14 loss at Alabama the following week.
“We gained some momentum from Tennessee and the win away at their stadium and we tried to carry that momentum to Alabama and we made so many mistakes,” Morgan said.
“This past bye week we eliminated those mistakes and we are going to keep eliminating those mistakes.
“If we can roll into Auburn with all the high stakes…we can get this momentum back and finish the season the way we want to.”
Morgan was offered by current Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, when he was at Arkansas State.
“He offered me at Arkansas State and he told me that I could come down to Auburn, too,” Morgan said. “I like Coach Malzahn, I always have and I have him right there beside me. He is a good guy and a great coach and my path just didn’t go that way.”
Allen - who is 108-of-173 passing (62.4 percent) for 1,536 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions - said he and his teammates know how big the game with Auburn is on Saturday.
“It is a big game,” Allen said. “This is the start of our second half of the season. Anytime we can get this win, it is just going to get us momentum into next week and the next week.
“We are taking it one game at a time, but like you said, we need to win, we want to win each and every game and it starts this week.”
Allen said that the Arkansas offense needs to keep drives going and most certainly covert on third downs and leave no points out on the field.
The Razorbacks are averaging 433.3 yards total offense (256 passing, 177.3 rushing) per game, but scoring just 23.8 points per game while converting 43.3 percent of third downs.
“We have got to move the ball,” Allen said. “The biggest thing is being able to move the ball, keeping our offense on the field and keeping their up-tempo offense off the field is going to be huge for our D.
“You have got to be able to run the ball against any defense to win and our goal is try and run the ball because it opens up that play-action pass.
“We have got to be big on third downs and critical moments in the game…Staying on the field, keeping drives alive. We have been getting better and better as the season has gone on on the goal line and getting more touchdowns than field goals there….and doing better in the fourth quarter and putting up points in the fourth.”