FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Frank Ragnow tries to ignore the outside world. The haters. The naysayers. He knows what they are saying about the Arkansas football team. He prefers not to hear it.
That doesn’t mean, though, some won’t slip through. Ragnow knows people are talking about his unit, the offensive line. He knows some are suggesting his position coach, Kurt Anderson, should be fired. Ragnow knows his head coach, Bret Bielema, said Monday that Anderson could only coach the personnel he is given.
Frank Ragnow knows all these things, hears all these things and they make him angry. Not angry in the sense that he wants to shove back in people’s faces. Ragnow wants to prove them all wrong.
He was motivated Tuesday night during offensive player availability. He even, in a manner, took up for Anderson and, especially, Bielema.
“You’re playing offensive line for Bret Bielema, you’ve just got to be physical,” Ragnow said. “You’ve got to crawl and you’ve got to take pride in it, man.”
The Arkansas offensive line is a mish-mash of players right now. Ragnow and left guard Hjalte Froholdt are the only two who have consistently been in the lineup. Colton Jackson and Paul Ramirez at left tackle, Johnny Gibson and Ty Clary at right guard, Gibson and Ramirez at right tackle – the search for the “best five,” as Anderson and Bielema proclaimed the last two camps, has turned into the search for “any” five.
About midway through Arkansas’ 48-22 loss to South Carolina on Saturday, the broadcast showed a graphic that concluded Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has been hit more than any quarterback in the country since the beginning of last season. Ragnow, an All-American center, takes that heart. It bothers him. He spent his entire practice Tuesday, he said, making sure it bothered his linemates, too.
“This week I’m really trying to emphasize that with all four other guys, it’s going to be physical,” Ragnow said. “Refuse to get beat. Scratch, claw, no matter what. I want to be the most physical five out there.”
It’s a bit easier said than done against Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the owners of the top-ranked run defense in the country. They give up just 73.3 yards a game on the ground. Arkansas ran for exactly that last year on 36 carries against Alabama. Alabama has 14 sacks on the year, too, which is fourth in the SEC. Arkansas’ offensive line has given up 13 this year, 85th in the country.
Ragnow had been speaking with the media Tuesday for about six minutes when Allen walked in the room. Reporters and camerapersons flocked, leaving Ragnow practically alone. It was the first time Allen had been made available since last week. His achy shoulder was the primary topic of conversation. It was an achy shoulder that became that way largely because of the offensive line in front of him.
No blame was laid. Nor would it have been between either Ragnow or Allen. When Allen was asked about the graphic regarding him being hit so many times, he didn’t talk about Ragnow or the others. He didn’t mention Bielema or Anderson.
They’re all ignoring the haters, real and imagined. With Alabama next, that’s probably the best thing to do.
“I think it’s impossible to block it all out,” Ragnow said. “Even if you say you’re blocking it all out, you’re not blocking it all out. Me, personally, try to use it as fuel and, like, not to say that you guys are haters or anything, but just prove the naysayers and everything like that wrong.”
The post Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s words Monday helped motivate Frank Ragnow appeared first on SEC Country.
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