Hogs Show Generosity With Turnovers

FAYETTEVILLE — Hoping to get something going, Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick scrambled to his left and decided to take off running.

He didn't get far, though.

Dick never heard Texas defensive end Henry Melton coming, and the senior didn't know anyone was behind him until the hit came and the football was knocked out of his hands.

The fifth-ranked Longhorns recovered the fumble, scored five plays later and further proved that the Razorbacks' own mistakes are making it easier for other teams to beat them convincingly.

"I've got to be able to hang onto the ball with two hands," Dick said.

If only it were that simple.

While Arkansas has failed to move the football over the past two weeks, its struggling offense has committed six turnovers — including three interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns of 63, 74 and 81 yards.

Dick had a pair of passes taken back for touchdowns in the first half of a 49-14 loss to then-No. 9 Alabama in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Sept. 20.

And just when things couldn't get much worse in last Saturday's 52-10 loss at Texas, Arkansas backup quarterback Tyler Wilson lobbed a pass over the middle of the field that was intercepted and returned 81 yards for a score.

That's three interceptions that resulted in 18 points for Alabama and Texas. Arkansas' offense, meanwhile, has scored just 15 points during that stretch.

If the Razorbacks (2-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) have any hopes of avoiding another lopsided loss and getting their season back on track, they can't be as careless with the football when they host No. 12 Florida (3-1, 1-1) at 11:30 a.m. today.

"You definitely don't want the other team to score when you have the ball. If you are going to turn it over, I guess just let (the opposing team) fall down on it, give the defense a chance to stop them," Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs said.

"But I mean, with the young guys that we have and as many struggles as we had offensively, it's really hurt us to give the (opposing) team gifts like that and really given them opportunities to score when we have the ball."

When asked if there is anything the Razorbacks — specifically the quarterbacks — can do to cut down on the turnovers, Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino cracked a smile and gave an obvious answer.

"They don't throw it to the other team, that's the way to do it," Petrino said. "We've got to run the right routes, have good protection and the quarterback throws it to our team. That's the best way to stop that."

Though one of the nation's best teams at protecting the football, Florida found out just how costly turnovers can be in last Saturday's shocking 31-30 loss to Ole Miss in The Swamp.

The Gators hadn't lost a fumble or thrown an interception in the three games leading up to what was supposed to be an easy win over Houston Nutt's new team.

But that streak came to an end when Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez fumbled toward the end of the first half. And the Rebels changed the momentum in third quarter when they turned a pair of fumbles by wide receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Tim Tebow into nine points.

As a result, Florida heads into Reynolds Razorback Stadium hoping to simply salvage its fading national championship chances.

"I think there's just a sense of urgency, a sense of everybody's intense and determined not just to win but to take a little aggression out and go out and hit somebody," Tebow said.

Despite its three turnovers against Ole Miss, Florida remains tied for the nation's fewest turnovers. Arkansas, meanwhile, ranks 76th with nine turnovers — a fact the Razorbacks are well aware of.

"Any game the turnover battles are really big. But us being the underdog we are (against Florida), we have to give our offense as many (opportunities) of having the ability to have the ball in their hands," Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "And that's been our downfall."

Well, that and the interceptions.

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