Well, sports fans, one game of the John L. Smith era is now in the record books as a "W," a win. And that's well worth remembering as we fret over the twenty-four points the defense gave up and their general sloppy play. I have wondered from the first time I saw this game on our schedule if we weren't tempting the Football Gods a bit too much by bringing back a coach we fired twenty years ago over losing to a lower-division team. The Football Gods love to humble you in those types of situations. And we have been humbled to a degree. But not to the extent of joining about half the other teams in the nation in the losers column. Thank you, offense, and especially Warren native Chris Gragg, who had a great night, for not allowing that to happen.
I think a lot of us expected, myself included, that the defensive performance we saw in the Cotton Bowl would continue on with the first game of this season. But factors we might not have been considering enough: 1.) Just Paul Haynes's second game calling defensive plays. 2.) The possibility of Jacksonville State throwing the whole kitchen sink at us on offense and that no matter their level they are a pretty solid team on offense. 3.) The impact of losing players like Jake Bequette. 4.) The over-confidence factor that might have come from that Cotton Bowl defensive performance.
Well, we can thank Jacksonville State for a wake-up call. Defensive Paul, work on these guys during the week, for twenty-four points to Jacksonville State will be forty-eight against Alabama. And I don't think even our offense is going to score over forty-eight against Nick Saban's defense.
BY THE NUMBERS:
6 - The first six points of the season were scored by Kody Walker, which I think means those people who selected "new guy" on the poll were closest to being correct.
34:19 - Time of Possession for Jacksonville State - not good, not good, not good.
11.8 - The average number of yards per pass completion for Arkansas as a team. A sign that a Petrino is still at the helm.
400 - The total number of passing yards for Arkansas. How very even of Wilson and Allen, huh? Four complete football fields worth of passing.
164 - The total number of rushing yards for Arkansas. Hey, I can remember when the team struggled to get over one hundred yards for a game.
13 - The number of yards for Knile Davis' longest carry. I was expecting some nearly one hundred yard dash from him, but I probably should have remembered that this is his first football game since the Sugar Bowl. Some rust is going to have to be knocked off.
3 - The number of turnovers by Arkansas. I hope like hell this isn't a trend. Jacksonville State was much more disciplined at taking care of the thing that is so important they named the game after it. They unexpectedly gave us the ball just once.
0-2 - That is what we were on fourth down conversions. I think it behooves this team to come up with better plans for fourth down conversions if we are going to keep rolling the dice.
218 - Represents the total number of receiving yards between Herndon and Brandon Mitchell. So maybe we can ease some of our worry about what happens if a team takes Cobi out of the game. And he pretty much was out of this game with just two catches for thirteen yards.
7/7 - What Zack Hocker was on extra points. Steady as she goes, Hocker.
42 - Not just the whim of Douglas Adams, but a sign that Dennis Johnson is still Dennis Johnson when it comes to retuning kick-offs. It represents his longest return, forty-two yards.
70% - A sign that Tyler is still Tyler. This is his completion percentage to go along with his three touchdowns. But for my taste, he was on the field too long. Brandon Allen appeared, but the Hogs should have set him up where he could have had the majority of the second half to get live game experience.
49-27 - Ole Miss's win over UCA. That was the score. Looks a lot like our 49-24 win doesn't it? Not that we are Ole Miss, but I don't think we thought we would be nearly Ole Miss's twin in this regard.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST SATURDAY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL ACTION:
* Overall, it was still Christmas morning in September, but that item at the top of your wish list to Santa (a great game) really wasn't to be found. Clemson / Auburn, for me, was about as close as it got. Alabama vs. Michigan was a snore for everybody not wearing hounds tooth.
* I enjoy the College Game Day crowds more when they are on a campus. Did you see Jerry Jones give the guest picks? If they arrive in Fayetteville for the Arkansas / Alabama game, I wonder who will be the guest picker then? My vote, D.J. Williams! But he might be a bit occupied in Green Bay by then.
* In the sights and sounds department (more sight than sound) already missing Erin Andrews. I think she is on some Fox Sports Something, but I didn't find her.
* Good thing the Vols showed some competence for a change and beat NC State, or the ACC would have had two wins on the SEC. But I think it says something about the power of the conference that a mid-level team took the ACC's conference champ from last year down to the last few minutes of the game in Atlanta.
* Sorry, Missouri fans, I saw your score on the ESPN crawl, but I still thought of you as a Big 12 school. Maybe my mind will get used to the idea of you being in our conference once you start playing conference members, but probably not. And, yes, other SEC fans probably thought the same way about Arkansas and South Carolina back in 1992.
* I don't know if I was more annoyed by the new helmet rule or having it explained to me every time a helmet came off.
* The rule makers surely don't understand the greedy nature of football teams. The new kick-off rule, it seems to me, of putting the ball at the twenty-five instead of the twenty just encourages teams not to kick it through the end zone.
BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS:
Well, we got that over with and it is on to another tune up game where we hope we can get some confidence for our defense before facing Alabama on the 15th. I don't know of any serious injuries to the Hogs. And unlike Texas A&M, we didn't have to wait an extra week to start our season because of a hurricane. For this week, when the Football Gods could have dumped a bucket of cold piss on us in the form of Crowe's revenge, the Hogs came out with a win and intact, but with plenty of evidence about what they need to improve upon. Next week's post will come a little later, for I am going to the game in Little Rock and will have to make a long drive back before I am in front of a computer. Looking forward to seeing 50,000 plus fellow fans at War Memorial and reporting back to you about the experience. Until then, Woo Pig Sooie! to you all.