Brought to you by Tito's Vodka, Bob Marley, and what has to be the raunchiest windbreaker ever. It was a hundred fucking degrees out there. He's in a jacket zipped up to his gullet. Y'all know that means he's crazy, right? We have another crazy one. What if the rest of the country is right and it IS us?
Whatever. 1-0. Won the day. Let's get to it.
I'm sure the issue of the heat has been discussed ad nauseum, but holy balls it was blazing. So much so that the beverage of choice for the day was water, followed by Coors Light. By the way, I thought it was such a nice touch that the University "encouraged" attendees to stay hydrated by purchasing $4 bottles of water. At least they were cold this year. Baby steps.
I really like the change to pregame. The Razorback Marching Band getting their own video intro and running into position from the tunnel was an improvement, and calling the Hogs onto the field is just plain badass. I know a lot of people loved the new intro video where former Hogs passionately recite the lyrics to the fight song, but I was just kind of meh about it. I hope it grows on me, as well as the decision to play it after the Hogs are on the field. BUT, that misstep was totally redeemed by playing "Beautiful People" immediately before kickoff. Freaking Marilyn Manson to get pumped up. Grrrrreat choice that I would have never even considered.
Moving on to actual game observations, you have to think that Bert wanted to make a statement in the first drive with seven running plays to start the game. Once the Hogs crossed midfield, I was hoping for a touchdown without having to put the ball in the air at all. Do that on the initial drive when the opposing defense is fresh and they pretty much know they have absolutely no chance to win.
Speaking of the opening drive, I thought the amount of unbalanced formations used was very interesting. The first play of the Bret Bielema era was a run to the weak side of an unbalanced formation. It was also the second play, which set up a nice little game of cat-and-mouse as the Cajun defense tried to weigh the natural tendency of teams to run strong side against the newfound knowledge that the Hogs can and will run to the weak side.
Speaking of running the same play back-to-back, it's apparently something that Jim Chaney is not afraid of doing. In addition to the first two plays of the game, the skinny post to the tight end looked like a repeat play call that netted about 40 yards.
How good could the Swanson/Cook interior combo be? Lots and lots of running lanes for Collins and Williams. And on multiple occasions when Brandon Allen would attempt a sneak, he'd lurch into the pile to get that tough yard... and find no pile at all, so he'd stumble forward for three yards before falling. If he'd known there was going to be an actual hole, he could have gotten ten.
Williams looked every bit the part of a feature back, and looks bigger, stronger, and faster for his sophomore year. His patience in finding a running lane is fantastic, and combined with his vision downfield and cutting ability is going to lead to lots and lots of big plays. He already has, what, three touchdowns of 70 yards or longer?
Oh, Alex Collins. I pray you stay healthy for three years. I am not even going to be greedy and ask for four. Patience. Acceleration through the line of scrimmage. Maintaining speed while changing direction. Unafraid of contact. If he can learn from Williams how to setup his next cut, he's going to be scary good.
Neither back is brought down easily by first contact, and both know how to fall forward. Hopefully this means very few negative plays. I know that is one of Bert's tenets of success, and that's how it played out yesterday.
Brandon Allen looked very solid. Grade A game manager performance. Made key throws whenever asked. Not afraid to uncork one into coverage, either. For now, I like that. That long touchdown pass to Herndon was fun, and reminded me to watch Bob take town the slapdicks from Lexington later on. Great catch by Herndon as well.
Defensively, outside of two series, the Razorbacks accomplished what they wanted to accomplish. As expected, the Hogs will be strongest at defensive line. They will force most of our turnovers. In addition to the pressure on Broadway, Smith and Flowers both did a nice job of containing the quarterback.
Seems like most of the Cajuns' success came on draw plays and short passes. I suppose this reinforces the preseason belief that linebacker would be the weakest level defensively. Probably really missed Otha Peters yesterday.
Secondary play gets a passing grade. Nothing spectacular. Will Hines had an opportunity for a monster game, but in no way did he have a bad game. He just couldn't make two pretty tough interceptions. Maybe next time he will. It's not as if they bounced off his numbers, though.
That's all I've got. It's long, but there's a lot to cover with so much new on this team and staff. And yesterday gave me a lot to be excited about. I expected a comfortable win, but I wasn't prepared for it to come in such an easy manner. ULL may actually not be a total cupcake when this season plays out, but they were given total cupcake treatment yesterday. Just a good, fun day all around.
Trent Wooldridge will be that guy with enough bourbon. He loves the S-E-C chant and honks because he hates Texas. He puts honey on his pizza, demands aisle seats, and sees quitting golf as more of a hobby than actually playing golf. Follow @twooldridge on Twitter to track his quest to transform his three year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.