Arkansas Razorbacks V. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks Mismatch Preview
Arkansas plays ULM Warhawks at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net and may be streamed through RazorVision and possibly ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360), which is subject to blackout.
ULM hasn't played this season, and last year's stats only go so far. ULM went 6-6 in Sunbelt play last year and had one common opponent with Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat Troy 56-20 who beat ULM 42-21. After starting 4-2, ULM went 2-4 over their last 6 games last year.
In their three money games last year against Texas, Arizona St. and Kentucky, Texas and Arizona St. were played at the beginning of the schedule, they scored an average of 15.6 points per game in those contests while allowing an average of 44 points per game.
In the off season Louisiana Monroe didn't renew the contract of its coach Charlie Weatherbie whose team beat Alabama in 2007 and gave Coach Petrino's club all it wanted in 2008. A struggling Arkansas team leaned on tight end Chris Gragg's fully-extended 4th-and-one catch for 25 yards late in the game to secure a 28-27 win over the Warhawks. For Weatherbie's successor, ULM hired Todd Berry who was the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach at UNLV. This is Berry's third round as a head coach having last been a head coach at Army in 2003 where his total record was 5-36 in Conference USA over four seasons.
ULM returns seven starters on offense, four on defense, and two special teams personnel. They return one defensive end and no others on the line. In terms of stat production, ULM returns players accounting for almost all of its offensive production and roughly 40% of its defensive stats. ULM's tailback Frank Goodin rushed for 1,126 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and accounted for about half of all of ULM's rushing yards.
Between Goodin and QB Trey Revel, they accounted for 67% of all of ULM's rushing yards last year. Revel returns as ULM's QB as the primary passer last year but faced a challenge from a redshirt freshman in the off season.
Regarding Louisiana Monroe, Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett has made public comments indicating that the scouting report on ULM reveals that the Warhawks will "stack the box," i.e. playing almost all defensive players within a few yards of the line of scrimmage. It's one comment that we'll just have to trust the Arkansas staff's scouting of preseason ULM practices. Otherwise ULM head coach Todd Berry is starting from a blank slate and could employ any scheme he wanted.
Arkansas did what it was supposed to do last week against Tennessee Tech in a 44-3 win. On the first drive of the game for Tennessee Tech, Tech threatened Arkansas' goal line early but was pushed backward and had to settle for Tech's only three points of the game.
On Tennessee Tech's next drive Arkansas' defense scored a safety and kept Tech bottled up the rest of the game with some good play from Anthony Leon. Leon made his debut at linebacker after being transferred from safety just before the season started. He recorded eight tackles with two being sacks for losses totaling 16 yards. The Hog defense had some help with kickoffs from Alex Tejada. Tejada had four touchbacks, rarities over the last three years, and one where Tennessee Tech started from its own 9 yard line.
Ryan Mallett and receivers managed to complete 21 of the 24 pass attempts thrown by Mallett for 301 yards, one interception, and three touchdowns. The 87.5% completion percentage was a school record. Arkansas lost special teams player Seth Armbrust (Sr.,Little Rock Catholic) for the rest of the season with an injured left knee.
The Razorbacks' goals for the game will have the same theme as last week.
1) Improve assignments and techniques in a game situation, and 2) Avoid injuries.
Expect there to have been a fair amount of work with the offensive line this week for both pass protection and run blocking. Mallett was sacked once against Tennessee Tech. Of all things going into Georgia next week, this is probably the most critical area on offense.
If the history of week-to-week performances for areas of the game where Petrino concentrates is any indication of upcoming performance, the Razorbacks' offensive line should be improved against ULM.
While the Hogs' running game needs improvement, having the five backs who platoon in the backfield getting reps during a game would be the best practice. Broderick Green, Dennis Johnson, Ronnie Wingo, Knile Davis and Van Stumon each have different skill sets which makes it difficult to plan in terms of tendencies with the potential for so many variations.
Petrino will never have a three yards and a cloud of dust offense because the pace is too slow and limits the total number of offensive plays a team can run during the course of a game. Ideally, Arkansas would move the ball at a good clip on the ground as well as through the air, and if ULM stacks the box, it may be just the kind of preparation Arkansas needs for the next two weeks as far as the running game is concerned.
Defensively Arkansas still needs to work on the basics of tackling. Otherwise, because Tennessee Tech was overwhelmed, Arkansas needs to watch closely whether receivers are getting open on pass plays regardless of whether opponent passing plays bust for some other reason. Plays won't always bust against better teams and any open receivers are a concern. Tennessee Tech would have been an ideal team to play two years ago, but this year Arkansas probably needed a team like Troy or some other decent mid-major to sharpen Razorback tusks. Any issues along those lines may not become apparent when playing over-matched teams.
The Las Vegas line on the Arkansas-Louisiana Monroe game has moved from 38-39 points down to 34 points.
With a new coach, new scheme, and only one returning starter on the defensive line, ULM is destined for
first game of the year mistakes,
first game of a new coaching staff mistakes, and
first-game starter mistakes.
ULM will be bowled over by an Arkansas team which is hungry and has something to prove.
SharpTusk is a Featured writer on Hog Database
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