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Arkansas Solid in Season Opener; Can We Get an Amen?

Bring on Toledo.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday dawned hot and very much still summer, and I had to pinch myself for the realization to sink in: It’s Razorback football season. Officially.

For the next three months, and let’s go ahead and presume it’ll be three months plus, it’ll be so. Can I get an amen?

This year’s high school cross country opening meet in Arkadelphia made Fayetteville an impossibility for us on Saturday, but all day leading up to kickoff that Christmas-like buzz was prevalent.

And on Saturday, the Hogs filled our stockings with some goodies: a downfield passing game; a receiver who’s grown into a playmaker the likes of J-Wright and Childs; a beast of a tight end combo in Henry and Sprinkle (BVC’s description of Sprinkle in open-field mode was brilliant); and an efficient QB who, yes, may have missed a couple, but made a few that would’ve challenged more than a few pros based on what I see in the NFL these days.

It wasn't perfect. But it was solid.

Indeed, the Hogs looked on their way to revisiting Nicholls State in the first half; UTEP sold out to stop the run and we easily went over the top. Against such a stacked box, the run game took a back seat to crisp routes, some impressive YAC and pockets as pure and untouched as virgin snow.

The D held the Miners to 13 points and 200 yards of offense: Really nothing much to complain about. I’ll go ahead and say it, though: outside of Ellis, linebacker remains a concern (Harris can stuff the run but can he cover?), and UTEP runners ran threw a few arm tackles. But the D-line is picking up where it left off in Houston and we’ve got some young studs in the secondary. The D made many more plays than it gave up. Tolliver is the next great Razorback D-back in the making, and this team may end up boasting a few of ‘em.

Don’t expect to see many more arm tackles in Little Rock, and the ‘backers have a game under their belts and game film to study. It’ll come. It had better. We’ll sure need the light bulb to have popped on by A&M if not before.

Complaints….eh, there were those missed tackles typical of an opener, a few dumb penalties and I suppose the OL didn’t always get push. But I’m not sure what our expectations should be against such a defensive strategy. We still cranked out almost 200 yards on the ground.

In terms of results, and of course, material for the coaches to use next week, Saturday was a good day.

Some random thoughts and notes, a day out from 1-0:

  • It’s just one game, I readily acknowledge, and it was UTEP…but man, we upgraded at OC. I was feeling Dan’s rhythm.
  • I liked UTEP: the way the Miners played and were coached. I’ll pull for them in C-USA. That running back of theirs is a good one.
  • AC will get 1,000 this year (if only he had that break-away speed, but man, his initial burst is nice), and Kody Walker will imprint his name on opposing linebackers.
  • Hawkins or Cornelius, maybe both, will break one this year on a return. And Hedlund will have at least one PAT blocked.
  • I was hoping to see Peavey get a series and can't wait to see JoJo...I so hope we get to see JoJo...
  • Were we gonna hand it off to Josh Allen on the botched play inside the 5, and did it not feel like we scored 60 or so instead of "just" 48?
All things considered, a good day. We looked the part. It's football season, finally, thankfully, and we're 1-0. And for that, can I get an amen?

Bring on Toledo.