1:25 remained in the game when the Razorbacks called a time out. Arkansas faced 4th and 9 at the LSU 14-yard line and were four points behind. Having driven 61 yards over the previous two-and-a-half minutes, it was gut-check time for the Razorbacks while hostile LSU Fans roared into the television break.
Sitting a few rows up in the South End Zone at Tiger Stadium last fall, my friend turned and said to me, “We can get a first down…I can’t do this. I can’t watch. I know they’re going to lose. The game is over, isn’t it? We can’t do this.“
Seconds must have passed before my response.
My friend’s sentiments would have been easy to accept right away almost as a reflex. The words felt comfortable, familiar, and certain. It was certainly about to be a pressure-packed moment. Not sure that I would disagree with a fellow Razorback Fan, the question to myself was simple, “SharpTusk, what do you Believe, Right Now?”
There was less than a time-out’s worth of time for a decision.
My mind reeled through the last two years of reading, writing and watching Coach Petrino transform the Razorbacks. Some things were without question.
No Better Coach existed than Petrino to call this play. No Better Coaches were on the sideline, in the box or back in Fayetteville to have prepared this team. Right now, No Better Quarterback than Ryan Mallett existed in any uniform in the country and no set of receivers like Adams, Childs, Wright, and Williams could be had to catch the ball. There would be no anemic, play-it-safe-throw short of a first down carrying with it hope that the receiver could make it to the marker. The players would have to execute, but Petrino would take responsibility and call a play long enough to get the yardage… however, this was fourth and long or Arkansas loses again.
4th and 1 from the year before flashed through my memory. With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Hogs were down 27-21 to Louisiana Monroe which beat Alabama nine-and-a-half months before. On Petrino’s call, tight end Chris Gragg raced straight down the field and caught the throw from Casey Dick with a reaching, unforgettable catch for 25 yards….Could I take another call like that again? Wouldn’t a nine-yard, first down play be great?
Simply Believing wasn’t enough. It was gut check time as a Fan.
When we hedged toward the worse, we were still disappointed and rarely freely happy. Over years partial goals and excuses were made semi-worthy through the same tortured reasoning that would have an Okie raised in Texas Longhorn Country named Dr. Phil get a Razorback Fan through any doldrums. Nail biting, worrying and a lack of expectation had us dying a thousand deaths as if we were cowards.
It was all too twisted and needed to be abandoned.
The Razorback Players on the field had to fight through the fatigue of the last minute of the last quarter of the last regular-season game and score on the road.
If we were going to have a Winning Team worthy of our expectations, then We needed to embrace and accept Winning Right Now and for time to Come!
“THIS IS WHAT WE CAME FOR. IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. I WANT TO BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! I WANT THEM… THAT RAZORBACK TEAM… ON THE FIELD RIGHT NOW. I WANT PETRINO CALLING THE PLAYS. I WANT MALLETT THROWING THE BALL. I WANT THE RECEIVERS WE HAVE OUT THERE READY. I KNOW THEY WILL DO IT. THEY WON’T FAIL.”
Mallett from the shotgun rifled to Adams in the end zone for 14 yards. Touchdown!!
It happened just that way.
We left Death Valley without fearing or bemoaning the ultimate loss that day.
Winners don’t lose, they wait on occasion for another day to prevail.
What do You Believe for 2010?
Can You Let Go of the Security of Mediocre “Goals” to Embrace REAL WINNING NOW?
Can You Believe without making a Blind Leap of Faith?
We have high expectations and we’re working daily to try to achieve those. One thing we’re not going to do is be afraid of it and shy away from it. We’ll shoot for the top of the rainbow and go out there and have a bunch of fun. — Bobby Petrino, Transcript of Bobby Petrino’s Appearance on Scott Van Pelt Show, Chris Bahn, ArkansasSports360.com
Next up…Embrace Fourteen and O