Halfway through the 2019 season, the football program appears to be in desperate straits with No. 11 Auburn and No. 1 Alabama up next. By this time last year, the Hogs had already been blown out by those two program by a combined score of 99-34.
This year, though, the Hogs are entering the same midseason stretch playing more competitive football. They were in striking distance at the end of the last two games against Texas A&M and Kentucky, both of which were played out of state.
Though they aren’t yet winning when it counts, the Razorback are playing hard.
And none of them is playing with more heart than running back Rakeem Boyd, the SEC’s leader in total rushing yards. Boyd has 617 yards and is averaging 5.82 yards per carry.
The Razorbacks Tweeted out a tribute reel today that every fan should watch:
His hurdling of the Ole Miss defender at :13 is my favorite part.
Top 10 Rushers in SEC
Most everybody expected Boyd would have a better season than he did in 2018, so long as he stayed healthy.
Last year, he was battling a lingering rotator cuff injury that kept him from even lifting his left arm above his head in that fall camp. But his past offseason, the Hogs staff convinced him to him to get shoulder surgery. By late August, the shoulder felt nearly 100% now, Boyd said.
On top of that, he also understands the playbook much better this fall than last year. “I’ve paid attention to detail and really got in the playbook a little bit, and started watching a little film with my linemen,” he said.
”I kind of like them to critique me every time I run the ball or make a pass play, or scan the defense. I’ve got a little bit better at it. Last year I just came in and wasn’t ready to focus in. Now I’m just locked in.”
This new locked-in Boyd is on pace to rush for more than 1200 yards.
That’s actually more than most Hog fans expected from him coming into the season. In August, I conducted a poll of 228 Hog fans at ArkansasFight.com on how many yards they thought he would rack up by season’s end and 75% predicted somewhere between 801 and 1199 yards.
Only 24% thought he’d get more than 1200 yards.
Granted, in order to accomplish that deed, he’ll have to go man-child on some seriously formidable defenses. And it would sure help to see the offensive line step up and start playing its best ball of the season.
But Boyd has proven he has a way of hurdling tall odds. Just as he did in the reality TV series “Last Chance U,” where he played before Arkansas, expect Boyd to keep rising to the occasion.
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