2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - New Mexico at Arkansas
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Sept. 10 at Arkansas 52 … New Mexico 3
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- New Mexico corrected its offensive line and fumbling woes against Arkansas on Saturday night.
However, the Lobos had few other answers for the Southeastern Conference power in a 52-3 loss.
One week after allowing 10 sacks in a 14-7 loss to Colorado State, New Mexico (0-2) didn't allow a sack against the No. 14 Razorbacks (2-0). The Lobos also didn't lose a fumble, a pair of highlights in an otherwise dominating performance by an Arkansas team that outgained New Mexico 632-297 in total yardage.
"Obviously very disappointed in the loss, but Arkansas is a talented team and very deserving of their ranking, as it showed today," New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said. "We've still got a lot of work to do."
Quarterback Tarean Austin was pressured throughout by a Razorbacks' defense that allowed only 79 passing yards last week in a win against Missouri State. The sophomore finished 15 of 28 passing for 162 yards, not nearly enough to overcome a 31-3 halftime lead by Arkansas or concussion-like symptoms that kept Razorbacks' quarterback Tyler Wilson on the bench in the second half.
The junior, who was chided by Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino last week following a head-over-heels diving attempt at the end zone, wanted to make a statement against New Mexico on Saturday night.
Wilson did just that, barreling his way in for a 7-yard touchdown late in the first half. However, while the run might have earned Wilson some toughness points with his teammates in his second start, it also sent him to the bench for the second half.
Petrino strongly suggested following Wilson's diving attempt against Missouri State last week that he slide in goal-line situations. The junior apparently didn't listen -- and after the coaches noticed a lack of focus from him during Arkansas' halftime meeting, Wilson's day was done.
"You have to be smart enough to get the first down and keep yourself healthy," Petrino said. "In that instance, where he's running the ball at that point, he's trying to score a touchdown.
"That's the competitive spirit that allows your teammates to see you as a leader, and it's hard not to have somebody compete like that. That's just his competitive spirit."
Wilson wasn't made available to talk following the game, and his status for next week's game with Troy was immediately uncertain.
Before the injury, the junior continued his stellar play to start the season. He finished 18 of 26 passing for 259 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns -- a 12-yard strike to Jarius Wright and the touchdown run.
Arkansas put the game out of reach early against the overmatched Lobos. The Razorbacks have now outscored their first two opponents 103-10. The point total is the second most to open the season in school history, behind the 165 scored in 1911.
Sophomore Brandon Mitchell entered in Wilson's place in the second half for Arkansas. Mitchell finished 8 of 13 passing for 114 yards in the second half, including a 54-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton.
It was one of many highlights during the game for Arkansas.
Wilson guided the Razorbacks 70 yards in four plays to open the game, finding Wright on a crossing pattern for the score and a 7-0 lead. The quarterback then suffered his first setbacks as the starter when Arkansas' next drive stalled and resulted in a missed field goal attempt, and that was followed by his first interception of the season.
Last week against Missouri State, Wilson guided the Razorbacks to 303 yards of offense and 24 points during his four possessions.
The minor setbacks didn't slow Arkansas as it built a 31-3 halftime lead.
Marquel Wade added to the early season success of the special teams' unit when he split the New Mexico defense for an 85-yard touchdown return in the first quarter. It was the first of the freshman's career, and he celebrated by continuing his sprint through the end zone and back to the Arkansas sideline, where he was mobbed by his teammates.
The touchdown put the Razorbacks up 14-3, and it was the team's third special teams' score in two games -- following Joe Adams' two punt returns for scores last week.
"I trust him there," Adams said. "He returned a kick this game. He's a great kick returner, too. If they don't want to kick the ball to me, they kick it to him.
"I trust that he can do the same thing, so I'm going to block it up for him." Even Arkansas' running game, which averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in gaining 102 yards in the opener, found its groove against the Lobos. Junior Ronnie Wingo had 73 yards rushing on 12 carries, leading an Arkansas ground game that amassed 259 yards.
New Mexico (0-1) at Arkansas (1-0) Sept.
10, 7:00, ESPNU
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Here's The Deal … It's a new year with new teams and new personnel, but if New Mexico hasn't shown anything since head coach Mike Locksley took over a few years ago to suggest that this will be anything but one of the ugliest blowouts between two FBS teams this season.
New Mexico finished dead last in America in total offense last year, dead last in run defense, 116th in scoring, and 119th in total defense. Last week was one of the winnable games of the bunch, and while Colorado State was held to 14 points, the Lobos made the Rams look like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens with no pass protection and just 329 yards of total offense.
And then there's Arkansas.
The Hogs are dealing with a slew of injuries and a major overhaul of offensive talent, but that didn't stop them from stomping all over Missouri State 51-7 and cranking out 466 yards without breathing hard. How lopsided could this be? New Mexico put up 34 points against Wyoming last year, and didn't break the 23-point barrier the rest of the way. Arkansas was held under 24 points just once, and that was by Alabama, while scoring 36.5 points per game.
Again, it's a new season with new teams and new personnel, and while there's a chance the Lobo defense really has changed and really could provide a push, this is an exercise for the Hogs to tune up before starting out the SEC season at Georgia next week and with Alabama to follow. New Mexico gets more horrors against Texas Tech.
Why New Mexico Might Win: At some point, all the injuries to the backfield and all the changes in offensive personnel have to take a bit of a toll.
Not only did the Hogs lose Knile Davis for the year this summer, but they also lost Broderick Green to a knee injury and Dennis Johnson has had hamstring problems. Suddenly, the deepest stable of running backs in the country is extremely thin. New Mexico's defensive front has improved in the offseason with JUCO transfers and more experienced players giving the team the most talented line in the last few years. While that might not mean too much compared to the miserable lines in recent seasons, it turned out to be a major plus against Colorado State last week allowing just 92 rushing yards while coming up with two sacks and five tackles for loss. The Arkansas running game didn't destroy Tennessee Tech last week, running for just 196 yards, and there's a chance the Lobo line, now playing up to the prep hype and the promise from some decent recruiting classes, could turn Arkansas into a pure passing team.
Why Arkansas Might Win: Even if Arkansas is a pure passing team, that should be more than enough to win in a walk. The New Mexico defense might have made some big improvements, but the offense is still a major problem with a line that couldn't come close to stopping the Colorado State pass rush last week. The Hogs might score enough in their first two drives to put the game away.
The anemic Lobo attack was able to mix it up a little bit last week against the Rams, but six fumbles, losing three, nine penalties, and no big plays whatsoever allowed the Rams to pull off the win. Colorado State might be improved from last year, but it doesn't exactly have a brick wall of a defense. New Mexico, at home and with a whole offseason to prepare, still couldn't do much of anything. The talent simply isn't there to keep up any sort of pace.
What To Watch Out For: No, New Mexico doesn't have a lot of talent and it doesn't have the skill talent to match Arkansas, but it has an interesting quarterback to build around. If Utah State's Chuckie Keeton could come up with a special performance against Auburn, maybe there's a chance New Mexico's Tarean Austin could do similar things against the Hogs.
The sophomore came in from Tampa as a top dual-threat quarterback, getting offers from places like Michigan State and Purdue, and he got a little time on the field completing 49% of his passes for 398 yards and two scores and four picks, while running for 101 yards and a score. At 6-2 and 205 pounds he has good size and has the arm to be more than just a runner, but he needed to improve his decision making as a passer. Against Colorado State, he showed his improvement and his maturity completing 20-of-31 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, while running for 105 yards – and getting sacked way too much losing 48 yards.
For Arkansas, the focus will continue to be on the quarterback Tyler Wilson as he continues to make Ryan Mallett's old job his. He came out smoking completing 18-of-24 passes for 260 yards and two scores, while Brandon Mitchell was terrific in mop-up time hitting 10-of-11 passes for 104 yards and a score. Arkansas isn't going to try to rub it in New Mexico's face, but it'll use this game to keep tuning everyone up. That means if and when Mitchell is in, the passing game will keep on rolling.
What Will Happen: Target practice. Arkansas should be able to do whatever it wants offensively, and while New Mexico will provide more of a defensive speed bump than Missouri State, this could be over after about ten minutes.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 45 … New Mexico 6
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Arkansas -36 O/U: 53
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