RazOrbaX Report: Smithson breaks down win over New Mexico
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas' 52-3 victory over New Mexico was expected. Frank Broyles' 1969 team opened the year with 39-0 and 55-0 victories over Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Ken Hatfield's 1988 squad scored 93 in their first two games.
How far back do you have to go to beat Bobby Petrino's 2011 squad? Well, the 1924 Hogs (coached by Francis Schmidt) scored 101 in their first two games. But Hugo Bezdek's Razorbacks opened the 1911 season with a 100-0 victory over Fourth District Normal (now Missouri State) and a 65-5 victory over Drury University (Springfield, Mo.) that lead the way. And as prolific as this Razorback team has been, it would have to score 107 points against Troy to TIE the three-game record!
RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Most schools that try to color coordinate the stadium (Boise comes to mind), lay out T-shirts in the appropriate color on the seats and the fans put them on after they arrive. You have to give it up for the Arkansas fans that dressed in either Cardinal or White as instructed at about a 99 percent rate in each section. It looked great as did the red, white and blue Razorback at midfield and on the team's helmets. And I love flyovers. September 11, 2001 was a sobering day for most of us. My parents (dad passed away in 1992 and mom in 2003) were always surprised that December 7th seemed to fade from the minds of the country. I know exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing when the news began breaking on the radio. I remember our company vice president calling the entire staff into the training room where CNN was on the large projection screen. Many of us shed tears that day and could not wait to get home to our loved ones. I remember the first football game I went to after that week. It was a junior high game on a Thursday night. The national anthem was sung with a little more heart than usual. The largest cheer of the night went up when a lone airliner flew over the stadium on approach to Little Rock. 12-7-41 and 9-11-01 are dates Americans always need to remember! OK, back to football.
BREAKING DOWN THE O's
Coach Bobby Petrino
There is not too much to complain about if your team scores six offensive touchdowns, one special teams touchdown and kicks one of two field goals. Yet, folks seem worried. Has Coach Bobby Petrino set the bar too high? I do not think so. The idea is for the offense to score each time it has the ball. But for an interception and a fumble and one punt, the Razorback offense did just that. I love looking for something I have not seen the Razorbacks do before, and Coach Petrino does not disappoint. He and his staff do such a good job of dissecting tendencies you can count on plays designed just for certain defensive alignments in certain down and distances. The second offensive possession of the game Arkansas lined up in an I formation, tight end to the left with a slot and split end wide to the right. New Mexico was in a shaded four-man front. That put the New Mexico left defensive tackle in the gap between the Razorback center and right guard. At the snap, quick guard Grant Cook blocked down on the Lobo tackle, and quick tackle Mitch Smothers blocked out on the defensive end. Center Travis Swanson pulled to the right and went through the hole between Cook and Smothers. Fullback Kiero Small went through the same hole, shoulder to shoulder with Swanson. They picked up the middle and outside linebackers of New Mexico. De'Anthony Curtis hit the crease and picked up a Razorback first down and nearly stepped out of the fray for a much longer run. Fans who are worried about the running game should breathe a little easier. I know that out of the HOGS' 259 yards rushing, 138 were from Wilson, Mitchell and Adams. Those are bonus yards! The tailbacks rushed for 123 and averaged 4.2 a carry. I will remind you that Knile Davis did not start breaking long runs until after the Auburn game. Things are coming together nicely.
BREAKING DOWN THE X's
The Razorbacks broke out the five-man front with ends Jake Bequette and Tenarius Wright standing instead of the usual three-point stance. It was interesting to see one or both dropping in zone pass coverage. Most of the time it was to the flat but I expect that down the road we will see one sliding to the middle taking the middle linebacker's space as the ‘backer blitzes. Anytime you hold a team below 100 yards, the defensive line is doing its job. Right now they are not making a lot of tackles but they are keeping the offensive line from getting to the next level and the linebackers. Jerry Franklin, Alonzo Highsmith, Ross Rasner and Jerico Nelson are reaping the rewards of their work up front. The Razorbacks mixed their coverages all night. The man to man leaves a little to be desired and needs to tighten up, especially with the teams on the schedule the next four weeks. Freshman Tevan Mitchel made a great play on the only pass New Mexico made to the end zone in man coverage. Tramain Thomas just missed two interceptions. Close is not what coaches and fans want. Missing picks over the next month could be devastating for the HOGS. While the defense is doing well with its "three-and-out" stats, it lacks turnovers.
Hot Point Check Up
Control the Line of Scrimmage QB Tarean Austin is a threat to run and a decent passer.
Austin rushed for 31 yards and slipped out of sure sacks several times and was not sacked the entire game. That said, the Lobos only got 39 yards out of their tailbacks and less that 100 for the game.
Cover, Cover, Cover New Mexico has nothing to lose and will attack the Razorback secondary. The Lobos completed 58 percent of their passes and had no interceptions. Eleven of their 15 first downs came via passes. The most important thing though is ZERO
Tackle Well The HOGS need to amp up the intensity a notch and tackle well. Mission accomplished. Arkansas tackled well all night.
A Little Sharper The Lobos are running a 4-2-5 alignment. 632 yards does not happen without things going a little smoother. Except for a few plays in the second quarter where Wilson forced the ball (one interception and having to kick a field goal instead of a touchdown), the Razorback offense jumped up a notch.
Run Hard; Hang on to the Ball Ronnie Wingo, De'Anthony Curtis and Kody Walker need to step it up, running harder to daylight and they must hold on to the ball. The HOG ‘backs looked better running the ball with Wingo and Curtis almost breaking big plays. A Wingo fumble keeps the Razorbacks from scoring again.
No Mistakes I will venture that we do not see the substitution gaffs we say last week so the emphasis needs to be on playing clean. Too many penalties and too many turnovers for the Razorbacks this week.
Kicking Good-Coverage Average There is enough speed and talent on this Razorback team to keep teams from starting outside the 30-yard line. Only once did New Mexico start past the 30 after a kickoff.
A Dangerous Weapon If the New Mexico punter does not directionally punt the football or punt it short and very high, I will be shocked. The Lobos were smart and did not punt to the HOGS. But they kicked a field goal and had to kick off and Marquel Wade made them pay.
UP NEXT: TROY
So the Razorbacks are right where we thought they would be: 2-0 with big margins of victory and pretty gaudy stats on both offense and defense. Troy comes to Fayetteville off of a bye week following a 43-19 loss to Clemson. Troy has athletes and will severely test the Razorback secondary. Arkansas cannot look ahead to Alabama. Arkansas needs to treat this game as an SEC game and not get lost in all of the talk about HOGS vs TIDE. I trust Coach Petrino will make sure they do not. If the Razorbacks can keep from turning the ball over and create enough QB pressure that the Trojans do turn the ball over, it will be great night of calling the HOGS!