Last year, like most Razorback fans, I was mystified as to how Arkansas needed a late fourth down conversion to keep a drive alive and best Western Illinois in the final minutes. So today's 38 point win margin was certainly a better result than that.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's try to discuss apples to apples versus other teams winning margins in their openers. Missouri State is an FCS school. Yet Arkansas "only" beat them by 38. The reason I say "only" is because several BCS conference schools (some that didn't even do that well last year) beat their FBS foes by similar or wider margins. Here are some examples...
- Texas A&M beat New Mexico by 35
- Cal beat Maryland by 39
- Kentucky beat Miami (OH) by 42
- Tennessee beat Western Kentucky by 56
- Notre Dame beat Nevada by 35
- Missouri beat Illinois by 32
So the win wasn't as impressive as it should have or could have been. I had to go to a Buffalo Wild Wings to get the game given that I don't pay for the ESPN Game Plan package. Therefore, I only got to see about 2/3 or the game. But here are some observations that I believe will need to improve once we start seeing real competition.
There was too much yardage given up on kickoffs and two kickoffs were penalized for kicking out of bounds.
Arkansas had some trouble running in short yardage situations. I thought Petrino had his "big back" now. Against a line that is obviously inferior to all the others we'll see this year, that's disappointing.
Arkansas should be scoring touchdowns and not field goals in the red zone...especially against a team of this caliber.
Against an SEC defense, Mallett will be picked off some because he doesn't look off his receiver once he has locked on.
There were a few other minor things. But overall, Arkansas is definitely better than last year and their ceiling is so much higher in most positions all over the field. With an off week before the next game, there will be actual game experience to work on rather than just practice field experience. That will help.
Things are looking up but let's just not get too excited over just one game and over an opponent that didn't provide much resistance.