HOOVER, Ala. — The last time we saw the Arkansas Razorbacks, they were blowing a 24-0 halftime lead in a loss to Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. The last time we saw Arkansas before that, it was blowing 24-7 halftime lead in a loss to Missouri.
Souring endings that made for sour end to the season. The Razorbacks could have finished 9-4 and, instead, finished a rather ho-hum 7-6.
"I felt at the end of the year, we were getting better at moving in the right direction," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. "Our last two games were not highlights, especially the way they both ended."
But if anything good came out of that, it was offseason motivation.
"I knew we had to take a new look at things," said Bielema, who is now 25-26 in four seasons at Arkansas. "We took an internal look at us coaching-wise."
And the players took a deep look, too.
"It just steams me and really has driven us this offseason," quarterback Austin Allen said. "The way the season ended … fueled us the whole offseason. It (ticked) me off."
That means extra work — on the field and in the film room.
"We've set the bar higher for ourselves this year," senior defensive back Kevin Richardson II said. "This is the first year we have had everyone on time to workouts, practice, meetings. We hold each other accountable and to higher standards."
Arkansas expects that work ethic to carry through to the games — ENTIRE games.
"One thing that I really wanted to emphasize as a leader of this team was that we are going to start strong and we are going to finish strong," senior center Frank Ragnow said. "We are going to put it all together and we are going to be accountable and consistent."
Only one question remains: Will they be any better?