"We didn't have Zac for most of the last two seasons and we had losing seasons," Markuson said. "This year, we've got him back and we won."
Of course, there are many other variables as to why Arkansas is 10-3 ahead
of Monday's bowl game versus Wisconsin and not sitting at home ineligible
for a bowl like the last two seasons. Improved defense, more efficient
passing, more experience and three new coaches all are factors in the Hogs'
solid 2006 campaign.
"All of that is correct, but what I've said if you look close, when Zac has
played on this team, we've won games," Markuson said. "He started the
Independence Bowl against Missouri when we lost Shawn Andrews and we had a
great offensive night. He played awesome that night.
"There was another game his freshman year that Shawn couldn't play. It was
against South Carolina and Zac stepped in and played great. Like I said,
when he plays, we do well."
Indeed, Tubbs was the right tackle as the Hogs hammered Missouri with 300
yards on the ground in a 27-14 victory in the 2003 Independence Bowl.
Tubbs smiled at all of that, but didn't offer any thoughts. A fifth-year
senior, he's learned to step clear of controversy and to say the right
thing -- like when he was asked about the Wisconsin O-line and Outland
Trophy winner Joe Thomas.
"I like those guys," Tubbs said. "I've been around them a little bit this
week and they are all nice guys. Offensive linemen tend to be guys that are
all about the same, good guys and easy to be around. That's the way it is
with them and us, too."
Tubbs was too busy thinking about the Badgers to think back about what he'd
gone through during injury plagued seasons in 2004 and 2005. He spent most
of those two years in the training room with Dean Weber or working in the
weight room with Don Decker doing rehab -- unless he was in the hospital.
"That's what I remember from those seasons about Zac," said senior guard
Stephen Parker. "I remember going to the hospital to see him when he had to
have his leg put back together and when he was back in there with blood
"I'll tell you this about Zac Tubbs; he's one tough man. That's what I know
about him and the way he's come back. Rehab sucks. It's tough work and he
had two years of that. Anyone who comes back after two years of rehab is
special in my book."
Markuson said the same thing.
"Hey, there's not a better story than Zac suffering through two years of
injuries and rehab and coming back to play like he has this year," Markuson
said. "To come back and play the way he has is just amazing. He's shown me
alot. He's resillient and he's got a big heart. It's a great story and I
will never forget what he went through.
"If you go back and look at how he was playing in the spring, you'd have to
say he struggled. He had to overcome a lot. He had to relearn how to bend
and get in the position to do the things an offensive linemen does to play
well. I'm proud of him for the effort he gave in the spring, the summer and
in August to get back to playing this way."
Tubbs arrived five years ago at around 350 and actually played at close to
370 during part of his UA career. But he lost weight after his rehab from
the ankle surgery.
"We'd been telling him to lose and I think trying to come back with those
screws in his ankle convinced him that he couldn't put all of that weight
on the ankle," Markuson said. "I think that injury convinced him that he
had to be lighter and he's been 30 to 40 pounds lighter ever since. I know
he learned that taking care of his weight issue alleviated the pressure on
"I hate to say it, but maybe that injury helped him. I'll say this; he's
been quicker and faster since he's come back this season."
Markuson would not minimize the impact Tubbs has had on the offense this
season. First, his return allowed Robert Felton to return to right guard,
his natural position. Felton had to play right tackle while Tubbs was out
"What you get with Zac at right tackle is just a big, big body," Markuson
said of the 6-6, 330-pounder. "He's just hard to get around because he's
that big. Having an anchor at right tackle is real important. It's
important when you need to run those powers and counters and it's important
in pass protection. He's got long arms and has just the kind of body you
like. I'm telling you, it's hard to get around that sucker. I wish we had
him back for another season."
Markuson could say that about two other fifth-year seniors on his line.
Tony Ugoh and Stephen Parker will also be playing their final game for the
Hogs on Monday.
"I've been telling those three guys that they are going to miss it and they
are going to find out how much they love being a Razorback in a few days,"
Markuson said. "I tell them that they don't know how important it was being
a Hog until they can't play anymore. That Hog gets huge in your heart real
fast when you are done and it keeps getting bigger. But with these three, I
think it's already pretty big.
"These guys have battled against good players for a number of years.
They've seen great talent in our conference, some real athletes. They've
competed and gotten better and learned."
Tubbs knows that all too well.
"What you realize in the offensive line is that you are going to take your
beatings at time, but you just have to learn and get better," Tubbs said.
"We see good players in the SEC. And, you learn that you have to stay
together as an O-line unit. You are only as good as the guy next to you and
it's definitely a group effort up front. You have to play together to have
an effective offensive line."
Tubbs always has a smile on his face and appears to be a big, easy-going
country boy at heart. Looks can deceive.
"He's got a nasty streak like all of these guys," Markuson said. "He does
like to mash on you and he really likes to run the ball. And, I know he
really loves to run the ball. I'd hate to see a lineman who doesn't want to
run the ball. I probably wouldn't want to coach him if he did."
Tubbs wants to help the Hogs run the ball on the Badgers, but he knows it
is going to be a difficult challenge.
"No one has run it on them this year," he said. "I know it's going to be a
hard-nosed game. They want to run it and we want to run the ball, too. They
are like us in they want to pound the ball. It will come down to who makes
the fewest mistakes and who can run the ball.
"I'm just grateful to be playing in this game. I want to finish this season
with a victory. We want this one real badly."
The Hogs are grateful to have Zac Tubbs. They remember what it was like
without him the last two seasons.
State of the Hogs: Zac Tubbs
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout On the Road: SeptemberScout takes a look at some of the top prospects we saw in person during the month of September...
Scout FootballWednesday at 2:00 PM
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM