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Player-led Hogs determined to beat low expectations

Presumptive starting QB Feleipe Franks and running back A'Montae Spivey.
Presumptive starting QB Feleipe Franks and running back A'Montae Spivey. (Arkansas Athletics)

The Arkansas Razorbacks, coming off of two 2-10 seasons, have new leadership, new talent and a new attitude. While national pundits, SEC media and Vegas have expectations set low for the Hogs in Sam Pittman's first season, the Hogs themselves think they're due for big things in 2020.

"The people making these rankings, they ain’t with us every day," junior wide receiver Mike Woods told the local Arkansas media on Wednesday. "They don’t see what we go through. They don’t see how we lead our team."

The Razorbacks are facing the toughest slate in the SEC with at least six opponents likely to be ranked in the top 25 when they face off. The addition of Georgia and Florida as their extra cross conference games, record projections have dipped to new lows. The chance Arkansas goes winless in this all-SEC schedule is 7.2 percent according to ESPN FPI and they're preseason underdogs in every single game.

Fall camps around the nation always tend to start with the same familiar platitudes of renewed hope and motivation but, with their new leadership, the Hogs really appear to believe it this time around.

"Coach Pitt lets us run our team," Woods said. "He lets us basically dictate how we’re going to start each day and how we’re going to come out to practice. We’ve made it a point to come out every day and practice like it’s game day. Practice like we want to be champions.

"This is the best opportunity because looking at where we’re slated, and looking and what we’ve done last two years, and looking at who we’ve got, it’s the greatest opportunity in the nation."

Good teams need coaches to motivate them to work hard–great teams self-motivate and have player-leaders that keep everyone accountable.

The Hogs got an early taste of accountability during the offseason. Without any supervision due to COVID-19 and NCAA restrictions, the players had to conduct their own workouts and their own drills. If they wanted to improve, they had to do it on their own, and they're keeping that trend going into the season.

"Our leaders on this team are stepping up and running their groups, and being basically coaches to their groups," Woods said. "Each of our groups are handled by the leaders and the coaches, and we self-start ourselves."

Pittman has singled out many players in the secondary stepping up as leaders, including newcomer Jerry Jacobs, as well as Bumper Pool, Feleipe Franks, Rakeem Boyd, Jonathan Marshall, Myron Cunningham and more.

The Hogs have a mountain to climb but it's easier with strong team leadership setting the pace.