Loss of center leaves a hole in Razorbacks

Posted: October 25, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Arkansas center Frank Ragnow (72) blocks during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.

Frank Ragnow will not be forgotten. Not over the course of the next decade and definitely not this season.

When he was moved from center to guard for the Alabama game, he was as obvious against the Tide's defensive line as a thoroughbred in a herd of rhinos.

Ragnow was a true pulling guard.

His foot agility and speed allowed him to be in the right place at the right time almost every snap, and it helped keep the crushing rush off quarterback Cole Kelley most of the time.

It really appeared that in the sixth game of this season that perhaps the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville coaching staff had come up with its best combination for an offensive line.

Maybe not. Perhaps after reviewing the film, the coaches decided the Razorbacks best player needed to go back to center.

That's not what got him hurt last week against Auburn and ended his season. That was just football, a sport that seems to grow more brutal every week.

Several of the media members who cover the Razorbacks vote on various awards, and Ragnow will stay on the radar for those he has a legitimate chance to win.

Recognitions such as the Heisman -- headed up in Arkansas by longtime journalist Nate Allen, who is home after surgery last week and is under the loving eye of his wife Nancy -- aren't things Ragnow would be considered for, but there are other significant awards.

Ragnow deserves at least that.

He could have put his name in the NFL Draft after last season and would likely be making a ton of money right now.

He's truly an athlete in a big strong body. He's quick on his feet and can even throw a tight spiral pass 40 yards, and he'll knock defenders from Saturday to Tuesday.

He decided he wanted to be a Razorback another season. He wanted to make a difference on a young and inexperienced offensive line. He wanted to help the team.

Ragnow is a huge loss for the already hurting Hogs.

He was the mainstay in the offensive line. The glue. The leader. The captain.

No doubt he'll be on the sidelines trying to be an encourager, but its not the same -- never is and never will be.

There has to be even more concern about protecting the quarterbacks. With Ragnow, who had never given up a sack, the Hogs had allowed 24 this season.

Kelley and Austin Allen before him were knocked down more times than the top milk bottle at the state fair. For the most part, they have been tougher than the back end of the shooting gallery.

Both have spent far too much time running for their life or getting up after one of those sacks or a knockdown.

It isn't going to get better without Ragnow.

This is a critical time for the Razorbacks: Lose to Ole Miss, who lost its starting quarterback last week, and for all practical purposes the wheels may be off.

While not mathematically eliminated from the bowl scene, they practically will be with a tough road game at LSU and hard home games with Mississippi State, and even Missouri can score in bunches.

To get a win, the Razorbacks may need to use more screen passes -- and not to the tight end but someone a little faster -- and quick outs. Maybe they should now consider running more out of the Shotgun, which gives the quarterback a glimmer of hope of staying on his feet.

Whatever it takes, the Hogs need to dedicate this game to Ragnow, then go out and get the victory.

He deserves that and a lot more.

The Hogs lost more than a center this week. They lost a guy who truly is uncommon.

Sports on 10/25/2017