Arkansas-Texas A&M: Is Arkansas Coming Together or Was A&M Exposed?

Donald FincherAnalyst IOctober 5, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Last year, Arkansas wasn't scoring 40+ points on anybody.  This year, they've done it in three of their four games.  And two of those were against Georgia and Texas A&M, both foes from BCS conferences.  This certainly bodes well for the offense.

The Arkansas offense had an off day against Bama, but after playing in the rain at Tuscaloosa and against what may be the best defense in college football, some troubles were expected.  However, I think we can see that Bobby Petrino can get the scoring done when he has weapons.

Defensively, it's been another story.  Bama and Georgia scored plenty.  However, against Texas A&M, Arkansas' defensive unit finally found a way to get some pressure on a quarterback while still stopping the run.  The result was that several times A&M had opportunities to score and the defense held.

I'll grant you that A&M is no powerhouse.  They will likely finish in the middle to bottom of the Big 12, but they were 3-0 coming into the game and none of those wins were against FCS schools.

After Mississippi State managed to put more points on LSU than Georgia did, I think we can conclude that Georgia isn't an offensive juggernaut.  However, they put 52 on the Razorback defense.  So Arkansas has gone from giving up 52 to mediocre offenses to holding mediocre offenses to under 20.  That's improvement.

So the defense seems as if it maybe taken two steps forward.  Will they take three steps backward or will they retain their momentum?  We'll see.  

Next week, with Auburn coming to town, they will not only be tested but will be tested with motion, trick plays, and a large number of plays as Malzahn likes to do a lot of hurry-up.

We are nearing the halfway point in the season and it's time to make some assessments. 

If Arkansas can maintain this defensive momentum and beat Auburn who is a surprising 5-0, I'll then be ready to certify this year as a year of solid improvement and the Petrino era in full steam ahead mode.  

However, if Arkansas loses to Auburn and thus begins with a conference record of 0-3, I'll have to conclude that Arkansas is not ready to compete week in and week out with the SEC and that Texas A&M was indeed even worse than we thought.