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at Arkansas 51 … Missouri State 7

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 3, 2011


Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - Missouri State at Arkansas

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - Missouri St at Arkansas

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Sept. 3 at Arkansas 51 … Missouri State 7
CFN Analysis: To nitpick in a 51-7 win, the Arkansas running game was awful. How was the ground attack going to go on without Knile Davis? The deep group of backs struggled with Ronnie Wingo and Kody Walker each averaging under four yards per carry, and while it didn’t matter, it would’ve been nice to show that it’s business as usual without Davis. Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell did whatever they wanted, with Mitchell completing 10-of-11 passes for 104 yards and a score, and 12 different receivers got involved. The defense had no problem against the Missouri State attack, even though there wasn’t as much pressure in the backfield as the coaching staff might have wanted. It was a layup, and now against New Mexico and Troy, the running game has to start working or else forget about it any production on the ground at Alabama in the SEC opener.

(AP) FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Tyler Wilson got off to an efficient, if not spectacular, start at Arkansas.

Ryan Mallett's backup the past two seasons threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdown to Jarius Wright to help the No. 15 Razorbacks beat Missouri State 51-7.

The junior had plenty of help in the form of a dominating defensive performance and a pair of punt returns for touchdowns by Joe Adams, who tied a Southeastern Conference record with his performance.

Wilson saw action on only four offensive possessions for Arkansas (1-0) while splitting time with sophomore Brandon Mitchell, but he made the most of his time. He guided the Razorbacks to 303 yards of total offense on 24 points in those opportunities, completing 18 of 24 passes and throwing touchdown strikes of 33 and 29 yards to Wright.

"My focus was there and it really didn't waver too much," Wilson said. "The jitters weren't as much as I thought going into the game, and after the first couple of throws, I was ready to go. I was on target."

While Wilson had his way with Missouri State, the Bears (0-1) struggled throughout behind true freshman Kierra Harris at quarterback. Harris, starting in place of suspended starter Trevor Wooden, gained just 18 yards of offense in the first half and were outgained 468-163 overall.

Missouri State went three-and-out on its first four possessions and never recovered, falling behind 30-0 at halftime. The Bears' lone highlight was a 33-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Jermaine Saffold late in the third quarter, one play after a Mitchell fumble gave Missouri State the ball deep in Arkansas territory. Harris finished 8 of 14 passing for 70 yards, while Chris Douglas led the Bears with 72 yards rushing on 18 carries.

"We're going to be all right," Missouri State coach Terry Allen said. "I was disappointed offensively in the first half, but we probably held them back a little bit. We tried to huddle a little bit with Kierra, and that's not what we do.

"So we went out in the second half and went back and did the things we do and we obviously executed a little bit better."

The Razorbacks had no shortage of highlights, with Adams providing two of the best. The senior was sprung by a Marquel Wade block for a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, though he later made that look pedestrian.

As the punt by Missouri State's Jordan Chiles rolled around loose on the ground with the Bears' special unit closing in, Adams picked up the ball and made his way to the right sideline. With nowhere to go there, he turned and made his way back across the field to the left -- eventually cutting through the heart of Missouri State's special teams unit and down the right sideline for a 78-yard touchdown return, his second of the game.

The returns were the second and third of Adams' career, with his last being a 97-yarder against Mississippi last season.

"It was a lot of fun," Adams said. "Both times my group set it up well, and I just tried to do the best on the return. I didn't think the second one was going to go. I did a lot of shaking and baking. I was tired at the end."

Arkansas' offense didn't need much help as it began the Wilson era. Making his first start since his senior season in high school in 2007, Wilson led the Razorbacks on touchdown drives of 80 and 70 yards in the first half. After Mitchell saw action on two first-half possessions, Wilson then closed out the first half by directing a 10-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Zach Hocker that put Arkansas up 30-0 at halftime.

Wilson continued his efficient play on his one possession of the second half, leading the Razorbacks on a 10-play, 90-yard drive. He finished the drive off with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Wright, who led Arkansas with 6 catches for 108 yards and planted one foot just inside the edge of the end zone to put the Razorbacks up 37-0.

The Razorbacks rushed for only 102 yards total in the absence of Knile Davis, who is out for the season after breaking an ankle during fall camp. Ronnie Wingo led the way with 43 yards on 11 carries, while freshman Kody Walker had 33 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 9 carries.

Mitchell also played well during his time under center for Arkansas, completing 10 of 11 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown pass to Chris Gragg, but Wilson showed why coach Bobby Petrino selected him as the starter last week.

"It's the way we're supposed to start," Petrino said. "It's what you'd say mission accomplished."

Missouri State (0-0) vs. Arkansas (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00 GamePlan
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Here’s The Deal … Is this the start of a dream season for Arkansas? It started out with a nightmare losing star running back Knile Davis for the year with an ankle injury, but the Hogs get a few games to figure out a steady rotation before dealing with the SEC opener at Alabama. The Missouri State game should be nothing more than a light scrimmage, and the dates with New Mexico and Troy likely won’t be much more competitive. The Bears should have a decent rushing offense, but the defense should have major problems keeping the Hogs under wraps. Last year, Arkansas opened up against Tennessee Tech and ULM with wins by a combined score of 75 to 10. Anything less than utter destruction of Missouri State will send off panic sirens that this year’s team might not be as powerful as last year’s.

Why Missouri State Might Win: Missouri State has the horses to potentially put up points in bunches. The stable of running backs are deep and skilled, with veteran Chris Douglas a good one to work around to go along with the depth that should keep him fresh. The receiving corps is just good enough and just fast enough to come up with enough big plays to help new starting quarterback Trevor Wooden feel comfortable. The pressure is completely and totally on Arkansas to not only win, but win in a blowout. Without Davis, and with Tyler Wilson taking over the quarterback job full time, it could take a little while for everything to click. Missouri State might not have much talent on the defensive front, but the coaching staff knows how to get its players into the backfield.

Why Arkansas Might Win: The Missouri State pass defense finished 117th in the FCS last year and was 106h in pass efficiency defense. Murray State came up with 570 passing yards and seven touchdowns, and Western Illinois came up with 402 yards and two scores. Eight teams came up with 200 passing yards or more, and Arkansas could have that in the first half. Even with a terrific pass rush to help the cause, the Bears couldn’t stop the good passing games; forget about stopping what the Hogs are going to do. Only four starters are back on an MSU defense that should be beaten up on the front line and picked clean in the secondary. The air attack should be able to bomb away at will.

What To Watch Out For: Can Tyler Wilson be Ryan Mallett? He stepped in for an injured Mallett in the loss to Auburn and bombed away for 332 yards and four scores. While he threw two picks, he was hardly to blame for the defeat and showed a cool, calm demeanor, along with a nice passing touch, that served him well on the way to three Arkansas state high school titles. While the 6-3, 215-pounder doesn’t have Mallett’s size and doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping arm, he’s a perfect fit for the Arkansas system and he has the talent and ability to put up terrific numbers. If he can’t be Mallett-like against Missouri State’s poor secondary, there will be reason to worry. To keep Wilson and the Arkansas offense off the field, Douglas has to be effective right away. He ran for 1,051 yards and 11 scores, and he caught 17 passes for 108 yards and a score, and while he’s not going to have to do everything, he’ll be the focal point of the attack.

What Will Happen: The only question will be just how much the Hogs decide to keep their foot on the gas. What will the pecking order be at running back? Will Wilson be rock solid in place of Mallett? Can the defense be as good as advertised? Beating Missouri State isn't exactly going to get the fans to go buy BCS Championship tickets, it'll be a good performance with everyone getting their feet wet.

CFN Prediction: Arkansas 48 ... Missouri State 3
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