As you can tell by my title, I have some grand post-season hopes for the Hogs, but how could you not after yesterday's opening performance? However, as all thoughtful Hog fans have been reminding themselves, this was lowly Missouri State, an FCS team, and one that is picked to finish at the bottom of their division. Still, you have to be excited about this team and what they'll be bringing to the table in the tougher games that are ahead.
Yesterday the Hogs went out there and did what they needed to do. They had hiccups, but they didn't give us any Auburn vs. Utah State type of drama. There will be drama, for sure, but we hope that it takes in the expected places, Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa. 51-7 type wins aren't like there. Those destinations are down the road some, so for now how about a review of yesterday's game and the day that was the first Saturday of the season.
* Dallas Expats? I looked for you in Arlington in front of Jerry World as College Gameday kicked off its season. Were you there holding a sign that I just missed seeing?
* As loyal as we are to the SEC, who still amongst us didn't enjoy Auburn being brought to the edge of the abyss by little Utah State? haha. Yeah, I know it would have looked bad for the conference if Auburn had lost, but I still enjoy the looks of despair and terror on their fans' faces. Tyler Wilson, you might just have another career day against that Auburn defense.
* Oh, and there was plenty of snickering in the Natural State about what went down across the river with Colonel Nutt's 14-13 loss to BYU. You can certainly say that the state of Utah gave the SEC fits on Saturday. Did any of the Ole Miss fans leave Oxford on Saturday thinking the God who overlooks college football might have Morman leanings after-all and is not a good Southern Baptist?
* A sign that college football has come back to the South - I put out our gameday Razorback flag to fly in front of our porch. I did that Saturday morning before I did much of anything that day.
* I experienced the game itself via the radio. It had been a little while since I had heard Keith Jackson, Chuck, and Quinn Grovey cover a game. And I have to say it didn't sound like much had changed with them. I still miss Paul though. Would have loved to have heard him call Joe Adams' second punt return. That certainly deserved a big "Oh MY!"
* We had the tv going with LSU vs. Oregon and Boise State vs. Georgia while listening to the Hogs. We are multi-taskers, haha. I was impressed that ESPN kept updating us with the Hogs's score. I wasn't able to stay up late enough to see if it got any mention on College Football Final.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE GAME ITSELF
* There is no truth to the rumor that Joe Adams was seen before the game taking pointers from a greased pig on loan from the state fair, haha. That elusive ability to get by a kick coverage unit is all natural Joe, I believe. He was already known as dangerous, but now SEC kickers are going to be doubly sure to kick away from him as much as possible. SEC Special Teams player of the week, he has to be! He now owns the conference record for punt returns in a game.
* The first series had the stutterings that I expected, but I don't think that really carried over for most of the game. The Hogs had the ball for a total of 31:29 to Missouri's 28:31. I would have thought that the Hogs had it even longer than that. It seemed that way. I guess I am more used to the quicker strike touchdowns that we knew so well during the Mallett years.
* The Hogs gained a total of 466 yards of offense with 364 of that through the passing game. If the Hogs can expect anything to be consistent throughout Petrino's stay here, I think it is going to be racking up yards in passing. I think the running game will come along in the weeks ahead with the return of Dennis Johnson and just more experience for the young offensive line.
* Speaking of which, did you catch that some Arkansas history was made on Saturday. Mitch Smothers became the first Razorback freshmen to start on the offensive line in a season opener.
* My buddy said Greg Childs. My mother said Joe Adams. I said Ronnie Wingo. But the answer to which Hog would score the first touchdown of the season was Jarius Wright, who I think gets a bit overlooked at times amongst that great crowd or receivers we have. Let it be known as well that Cobi Hamilton had the first catch of the season. But the catch that stands out to me in a special way was Greg Childs' reception. It was good to hear his name called again.
* Other names to start getting used to hearing more of include Walker, Gragg, Wade, Horton, and Mitchell.
* What to make of Brandon Mitchell's performance? He was 10-11 and scored a touchdown on a pass to Chris Gragg. His fumble, however, takes some luster off of his night. It will be interesting to see how much time he gets on the field as an option quarterback. I think it would make for a nice change up in a game.
* The uniforms? They looked like last year's uniforms. I couldn't see any changes, though I was under the impression that they were quick Nike designs and that they were going to do another uniform for 2011. After seeing what they did Georgia (the Power Rangers from Athens), I hope Nike just leaves us alone, haha.
* The Good: The Hogs were 2-2 on 4th Down. The Bad: We had to go for it on 4th down against the likes of Missouri State. The Hogs were also 6-12 on 3rd down.
* Most of this post has been about the offense. Let me correct that some by saying how proud I was of the defense going out there and just almost pitching a shutout on the scoreboard. I am excited about the idea that they are going to have the offense's back this season more than in the past. If the Hogs in the future have trouble running time off the clock in the 4th quarter, we can hope to count on the defense more than before to stop any rally from developing.
* The Hogs are now 7-0 all-time over Missouri State. That the Hogs are 0-1 vs. The Citadel is, however, always reason enough to make me nervous for a season opener against any less talented team. On Saturday, it was Oregon State losing to Sacramento State, and Duke losing to Richmond in the category of FBS losing to FCS.
* Injuries, known that I know of. That's always a very good thing when it comes to these opening games. Maybe we paid our debt to the injury monster in full with losing Knile Davis for the season. One would hope.
* My brother asked me what surprised me about the game. I think Hocker missing an extra-point was surprising in a bad way. So were the three sacks that Tyler Wilson took. In a good way, very few drops from the receivers in the first game of the season. Brandon Mitchell coming into the game as early as he did surprised me. I would say Joe Adams returning to punts, but not really. I knew he had that greased pig elusiveness in him. The final score didn't really surprise me in the end. I had predicted 47 to 10. I was off only by a total of seven points.
* BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: Like my title says, one down. Go back to practice and take advantage of having actual tape to review in order to improve. And you know this coaching staff is going to be able to find things this team can improve upon. In the final analysis, the Hogs did what they were suppose to do in a more than convincing victory against a lesser opponent. Another such opponent, New Mexico, is headed to Little Rock come next Saturday. Championships are born of consistency. Let's see how well the Hogs stay consistent in execution upon both offense and defense. I look forward to giving you another "Notes from the North Endzone" come next week at this time. Enjoy the rest of your Labor Day Weekend.