John Ridgeway’s First Game at Arkansas One to Remember

FAYETTEVILLE — Defensive lineman John Ridgeway chose to attend Arkansas after previously playing at Illinois State.

Ridgeway, 6-6, 320, had six tackles, including three solo, one for loss and a sack in a 40-21 victory over Texas. For Ridgeway, it was his Razorback debut after an appendectomy kept him out of the season opener against Rice.

“I felt like I shed blocks pretty well,” Ridgeway said. “I know I’ve got to work on some things during this week that should make it better. Hopefully I can get some more. I know I played pretty good for my first game back from having surgery a week and a half ago, but I think it was pretty fun for my first day in the SEC to lay it all on the table like that.”

If anyone wants to know how tough Ridgeway is just know he wanted to get ready to play Rice two days after his surgery.

“I felt fine,” Ridgeway said. “Like two days after surgery I was wanting to put on some pads and hopefully play against Rice, but they wouldn’t let me and told me I had to be on bed rest. My body feels good. I’m feeling fine. Now I’m starting to feel a couple of bumps and bruises, but other than that I feel good.”

Ridgeway went more into detail about his surgery and desire to play sooner.

“When I woke up from the surgery, I was like, ‘This is not that bad,” Ridgeway said. “Like, it hurt, for sure, but I was walking around the next day perfectly fine and doing everything I was supposed to. I walked my dog that night around the block a couple of times. They told me I had to sit for a week and not doing anything. I can’t do that. Like, my parents, they raised me that if I’ve got a bump or a bruise or a scrape to walk it off, so that’s what I tried to do. The trainers had a different opinion on that, so I kind of just had to hold back and just relax and not do anything. I looked up and it was like 2-3 weeks, and I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m doing that.’ I had to make sure I came back for this week.”

On Saturday night, Ridgeway played in front of a standing-room only crowd which was easily the most he had seen in a home stadium.

“It was really nice,” Ridgeway said. “I wasn’t used to it, especially making a play and looking up and seeing everybody jumping up and down. It was really nice. I try not to focus on stuff like that. I try to go out and play ball how I’m supposed to. Having the fans and everybody roaring and screaming was really nice. Nice atmosphere, for sure.”

Arkansas led 16-0 at halftime. Ridgeway talked about what went into the shutout in the first half.

“We just wanted to go out there and dominate,” Ridgeway said. “There’s a lot of talk about who’s the better team during the week. We took that personal and we wanted to show who was the better team today. We just wanted to be on their side of the line of scrimmage. We didn’t want to play off their blocks. We wanted wreak havoc in the backfield.”

Hudson Card was outstanding against Louisiana, but struggled against the Razorbacks. Ridgeway talked about the pressure the Hogs put on him.

“We definitely put some hands on him a couple of times,” Ridgeway said. “It was fun getting after him. He’s a really good quarterback and he’s going to be really good, but tonight, it was the D-line’s turn to lay it down on him.”

Ridgeway talked about the sack he got in the game.

“I kind of just pressed through the center, then I saw him step up, I shed the block then he was right in front of me,” Ridgeway said. “It was pretty cool.”

Sam Pittman was very pleased to have Ridgeway back.

“I thought it was pretty big,” Ridgeway said. “You’ve got to love Ridge. If you guys get to know him, he’s hilarious. Such a great person, great teammate, player, but he’s strong. Won the state in wrestling. He’s strong, big, and it was a big deal for him because I thought he pushed the pocket well, at least for the first three quarters.”

Texas came into the game ranked No. 15 in the nation with all the hype. Ridgeway feels the 40-21 win for Arkansas was a statement.

“I know we’re just trying to build up to be a championship team and I think this year we’ve got it,” Ridgeway said. “We work every day and bust our butt in practice. We do everything we can to have that championship mindset on and off the field, whether it’s in the classroom and going to class, going to extra meetings, going to the film room, going to treatment, we just want to be great. We have to put the work in to do it, and I think we have been.”

The Arkansas offense had the football for 31 minutes, three seconds thus winning the time of possession. That was a stat the Longhorns had dominated in their win over Louisiana. On a hot night in Fayetteville, Ridgeway was thankful for the Arkansas offense.

“It helped us out a lot because it kept us off the field, you know,” Ridgeway said. “I mean, if they can save our legs and if they can do what they do and control the clock and put points on the scoreboard and let us get some three-and-outs and get the ball back to them, that’s how you play football. It was nice. I liked it a lot.”

One reason the offense dominated was the play of center Ricky Stromberg and the offensive line.

“Ricky dominated, and so did the offensive line,” Ridgeway said. “I appreciate being able to go against an offensive line like the one we have now because it makes me better, and I can make them better at the same time. And Ricky, I think he’s the No. 5 center in the SEC. I mean, he makes me better every day. I definitely enjoy going against him and the battles we have. Win or lose, he makes me better and I know I make him better.”

Ridgeway and the Razorbacks will return to the practice fields today.

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