Folks, it was week one.
We put so much stock into our favorite teams blowing their mid-major opponents out that we get mad when there are tight contests. The high amount of penalties, offenses that look like they’re on the lowest difficulty on a treadmill and our high hopes vanish after the first bobbled football or turnover. Things happen. Your ugliest football is always played in week one.
“The most improvement is always made between week’s one and two.”
That is absolutely true though. There were several things like sailing throws, dropped passes, missed block on a punt and a player running into a snapped ball. Timing is everything and it isn’t like those items aren’t fixable because they are.
Bravo to this Arkansas Razorback football team having the resolve to come out in the second half on a mission. Most teams in the past would’ve quit but this one coached by Sam Pittman will not. They’re scrappy, hard working me that want to continue moving forward in the SEC.
Now, don’t get me wrong Arkansas still has plenty to improve on but there have been scares in the past in their week one games. Things like this don’t catch me by surprise. I’m not saying the Hogs are going on to win ten games this season but I’ve seen them play so many opening games that were closer than they should’ve been. UNLV in 2001, Utah State in 2006, UL Monroe 2010 and Troy 2007 and 2011 are all examples of good teams maybe overlooking week one or early tune up games.
What We Learned
•The Hogs have resolve!
This team takes on the personality of its head coach. They are humble, work hard and play through to the whistle. Even when they were down 17-7 during the third quarter there was no quit. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles opened up the playbook and the Razorback offense started to gain 10-15 yards at a time. Jefferson continued to remain a confident passer after starting 4-of-11 passing for 21 yards. He would finish 8-of-10 for 108 yards and a touchdown but displayed his running ability. Jefferson would’ve gone over 100 yards rushing if not for a “holding” penalty against freshman wide receiver Ketron Jackson on a 68 yard touchdown run.
The Razorbacks scored 31 unanswered points, put the game out of reach and they covered. That’s exactly what you want to see in week one especially when LSU, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and others around the country underwhelmed.
•Special teams still aren’t special. A blocked punt in Rice territory and short punts continued to the Owls outstanding field position during the first half drives. We have heard for awhile now that they are working on making special teams to make them better but here we are in year two and things are still….the same.
The Hogs need to figure something out before it costs them in a pivotal moment of a huge SEC game.
•The Razorbacks were mostly vanilla and still won by 21. Yes, it was worrisome at times but the Hogs still prevailed against a lower tier team. Like it was mentioned above once the Razorbacks went vertical on offense there was success. It’s understandable that Briles didn’t want to show too much but don’t get yourself best and they didn’t. The Hogs did what they had to do and that’s score more points than your opponent.
Defensively, the Razorbacks tackled very well and didn’t miss many at all. They were very active in the passing game as the “No Fly Zone” picked off three passes. A lot of that had to do with the ability to get pressure along the defensive line. There were multiple plays Arkansas found themselves in the backfield of Rice with five quarterback hurries, two sacks and seven tackles for a loss. The defense will lead Arkansas early on this season as they look like they’re in mid-season form.
•Speaking of defense how about backup linebacker Andrew Parker who had to be heavily depended on after Grant Morgan’s first half exit due to a targeting call. Parker, a fourth year junior, had four tackles and hurried the quarterback twice. In years past it was going to be hard if one of the starting linebackers went down but it looks like Arkansas may be fine if it happens again.
•Jalen Catalon is a star. Where would Arkansas be without their preseason all-American safety? Would they have won against Rice on Saturday? Who knows. With Texas coming up and Catalon being a Mansfield, Texas native makes this a big time matchup. The Razorback defense was stout and made stop after stop on Saturday. Can they do it again versus the Longhorns who didn’t overlook Louisiana? This rivalry game could be the most anticipated and matchup in the series since 2003 in Austin.