FAYETTEVILLE – Someone or something lit a fire, as the phrase goes, under the hind ends of the Arkansas football team. At least, by tight end Hunter Henry’s recollection.

FAYETTEVILLE – Someone or something lit a fire, as the phrase goes, under the hind ends of the Arkansas football team. At least, by tight end Hunter Henry’s recollection.


Arkansas’ junior All-American candidate did not mince words when asked what about the genesis of his team’s turnaround the last month. The Razorbacks have gone from a 1-3 and 2-4 start to a 5-4 record, one win shy of bowl-eligibility.


Nothing tangible changed in the last three games. In fact, Arkansas has fewer healthy bodies now than they did during the rough patch. Losses to Toledo and Texas Tech initially sidetracked high hopes in two of the first three weeks. Those dreams have since returned thanks to some extra motivation.


"We were p-ssed. We were also very embarrassed. When you’re sitting there at 1-3, 2-4, with all this hype going into the season," Henry said. "We were p-ssed and embarrassed. It just sucked. We all came together and said ‘we need to put an end to this.’"


It’s been an emphatic end. Henry and the offense have scored greater than 50 points in three straight games, all wins. Quarterback Brandon Allen won a national Player of the Week award. Wide receiver Drew Morgan took over the lead in receiving touchdowns (nine) in the Southeastern Conference. Henry continues to lead the SEC in receptions by a tight end (34).


A fourth straight win, one over LSU on Saturday, would achieve Arkansas, at worst, its exact same record from the end of last regular season. Hopes are higher than that, but considering 2014 was something of an overachievement, anything beyond would simply extend the positive vibe pervading the Fred W. Smith Football Center.


"We went through a lot of hard times early in the year," Henry said. "We didn’t start out the way we wanted to. I think that kind of brought us together. A lot of people I think would think you start pointing fingers and doing different things like that but I think we all came together.


Desperately Wanting


Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge will mark a return home for six current Arkansas players – seven including redshirt defensive back Nate Dalton.


The only states with more Razorbacks on the roster are Arkansas, Texas and Florida. And all six of the Pelican State natives play significant roles on the Arkansas team.


Defensive tackle DeMarcus Hodge is second on the team in tackles-for-loss. Cornerback Henre’ Toliver and linebacker Dwayne Eugene were teammates in Marrero, Louisiana. The same is true for safety Santos Ramirez and wide receiver Jared Cornelius. Fullback Kendrick Jackson is in his first year in Fayetteville.


The Arkansas-LSU rivalry is already significant enough for the Razorbacks fan base, what with the trophy and recent tight outcomes. But LSU has not been an easy place for Arkansas. The football team has just two wins in Baton Rouge, a fact not lost on Hodge.


Determining how to change that is easy, he said. Making the change is the hard part.


"It’s no secret. We’ve got to go in and stop the run. We’ve got to stop No. 7 (running back Leonard Fournette)," Hodge said. "They’ve got a lot of good linemen. As a D-line, we’ve got to do a good job of pressing guys and getting off blocks and really meeting No. 7 in the backfield."


Not Gonna Happen


Of those six Louisiana natives expected to play against LSU on Saturday, Ramirez is the most excited. The redshirt freshman strayed away from typical talking points on Wednesday.


Ramirez, especially, had some words for LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, who heads the SEC’s lowest-ranked passing offense.


"He is predictable where he wants to go. He has got a good arm on him but he’s not as accurate," Ramirez said. "He’s not very good with the ball in terms of decision making but he can really throw the ball and he can get receivers behind us and we have to be careful with it."


Ramirez’s strong feelings have a basis. He was offered a scholarship to LSU but was given second-option. Basically, he was a fallback option for the Tigers.


No thanks, he said. He’s been primed for this game ever since.


"I have been looking forward trying to get to LSU," Ramirez said. "I have some past ties with them and I want to get down there and show them what I’m all about."


It’s Death Valley For A Reason


LSU’s stadium in Baton Rouge isn’t actually named "Death Valley." Tiger Stadium, its actual name, does not quite have the same harrowing connotation, despite the big cat’s ferocity.


Death Valley is called that for various reasons. It’s been especially true for Arkansas, as the Razorbacks have won there just twice in 109 years. How many times LSU has won the game in Baton Rouge is the subject of some debate. Louisiana State University claims 11 times. Arkansas claims 10.


At any rate, the Tigers’ home in the state capital is generally called one of the loudest in all of college football. Moreso, psychologically if not literally, at night. The Razorbacks are making preparations accordingly.


"We practice every day with really loud crowd noise on our speakers so it’s deafening in our practices as well. Any kind of exposure you can get to loud noise, crowd noise and experience in the past, it’s definitely going to be helpful for us," Allen said. "Any stadium can get loud. Some obviously more than others. LSU is definitely loud. But don’t think it should be much of an issue for us. We’ve played in loud stadiums before."