FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas left guard Sebastian Tretola said something hasn’t been quite right with the offensive line.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas left guard Sebastian Tretola said something hasn’t been quite right with the offensive line.


Sure, the competition had something to do with it. Going head-to-head with talented defenses like Alabama and Georgia is a challenge for anyone. But Tretola said the less-than-impressive performances from the Razorbacks’ physical group — the foundation of coach Bret Bielema’s program — was unacceptable.


"We came into the season and we brought fear to people," Tretola said. "People were concerned. I don’t want to say in the last two weeks we lost that, but we definitely have lost the it factor about us. … It’s something we need to earn back."


Arkansas (3-4, 0-4 in SEC) will try to restore order up front during the final nonconference game against Alabama-Birmingham (4-3, 2-2 in Conference-USA) on Saturday at 11 a.m. The Razorbacks have had no trouble pushing around their three previous nonconference opponents and are expected to do it again against the Blazers, who are coming off a loss to Middle Tennessee.


Arkansas right tackle Brey Cook said the opponent doesn’t matter. The Arkansas line needs to re-establish its dominance this week with five games remaining.


"We haven’t played our best football," Cook said. "We believed there for a little bit we were statistically one of the top in the country and we haven’t gotten that done the last couple weeks. That’s something we’ve focused back on, getting back to what we were doing and taking pride in what we do."


It wasn’t long ago Arkansas’ massive front was being lauded for its efforts.


The Razorbacks had the biggest line in football. Running backs followed the group’s lead to become one of the NCAA’s most productive ground games. Quarterback Brandon Allen was safe and sound trying to throw behind the big men, too, getting sacked only one time through five games.


That changed against Alabama. Arkansas couldn’t produce much on the ground, finishing with 89 yards on 39 carries (2.3 yards an attempt).


The Razorbacks did improve against Georgia, helping Jonathan Williams rush for 108 yards and averaged six a carry. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said the Razorbacks graded out efficiently on 62 percent of their run plays, too, which isn’t bad against an SEC opponent. But pass protection was very shaky in the loss.


"We came out and we dominated people for the first five games and just beat them up left and right all four quarters," Tretola said. "It didn’t matter what the play was. The last two weeks, that’s kind of, we’ve lacked in that department."


Arkansas has allowed seven sacks the past two games and is averaging 127 rushing yards in those losses. So Pittman said this week is important for his group.


"If someone is going to beat us, they need to physically beat us," Pittman said. "That’s the whole thing. We are a big, physical team and we need to go back and play with that mentality, that attitude. I think we’ll get back to it."


Arkansas began to emphasize it during Tuesday’s practice. Allen said the Razorbacks devoted a portion of its work to an inside run drill, challenging the line.


Cook said the Razorbacks are working to improve communication as well, believing lapses were the root of the pass protection problems against the Bulldogs. Pittman said Georgia created some of the issues, though, adding defensive end Leonard Floyd simply "whipped" the Razorbacks a few times during his disruptive day.


But Pittman said Arkansas is going back to its roots against the Blazers.


"For us to win, we have to outphysical guys," Pittman said. "That’s just what we have to do. Whether we can do that, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see Saturday. We have done that this year. We’ve done that basically in the first five games we were physical. Then Alabama stopped us for less than 100 yards. This team the other day we had pass pro problems. … We need to keep a lead, stay in front, run the football and that’s the way we can win ballgames. That’s what our line is there for."


Allen said he’s confident the offensive line will get it worked out.


"They do a great job each and every day, really just a couple of things here and there that have happened in the past couple of games," Allen said. "Like everyone else, they’re working to clean up their mistakes."


Tretola said the inside run drill was a good start, saying everyone on the offensive line felt good about the Tuesday test. The junior said Arkansas’ front is disappointed about its recent struggles, but plans on "getting the nasty back" against UAB.


"We’d like to think we can run it on everybody obviously," Tretola said. "But this is definitely a team we want to get back to that hard-nosed, grind-it-out-mentality. That’s definitely the gameplan."