Arkansas has rolled its first two opponents to the tune of 103-10 so far this season, but things shouldn't be as easy this weekend.
That's according to Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino, who sees a lot to like in a Troy team that visits Fayetteville Saturday for a 6:30 p.m. game.
"They're a big step up," Petrino said at his Monday press conference. " They're a fast, good football team. They're very well-coached on both the offense and defense. They know what they're doing."
Troy was off last weekend after opening their season with a 43-19 loss at Clemson. The Trojans led the Tigers 16-13 at intermission before the homestanding Tigers took control in the second half."
"When you put the video on the first thing that jumps out is how fast they are," Petrino said. "Like I told our players, we're going to play a football team that knows how to play the game and we have to be at our best. We have to play a lot better than we did in the first two games."
Sophomore quarterback Corey Robinson was 24-of-42 passing for 258 yards with one touchdown and one pick in the loss.
"He's a good quarterback," Petrino said. "He has a real quick release. He's very accurate. He looks like he has a good understanding of what they're doing because his decision-making is quick. it's sometimes hard to get pressure on him because they get rid of the ball so quick."
Petrino was happy with his team's play against New Mexico, but also saw room for improvement.
"I was happy with the improvement we made from game one to game two," Petrino said. "I felt that way after the game, but then watching the video offensive line-wise we played faster. We were more physical in run blocking and we protected the quarterback better. So that's a huge stride for us up front on the offensive front.
"Our playmakers made a lot of plays for us," Petrino added. "We looked fast, we looked decisive on what we were doing and I thought both quarterbacks (Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell) distributed the ball pretty well. So I was happy with the way we worked there."
New Mexico was able to gain more yards than opening foe Missouri State, but was held to just a field goal.
Petrino thinks his defense left some points on the field.
"Defensively, we continue to play fast," Petrino said. "We continue to play physical. We had a couple plays not quite go your way, you know? We probably had three opportunities where we could've gotten pick sixes or interceptions for touchdowns that we just didn't make the plays. So we've got to make those plays when you get that chance, you've got to get the interception and make the play. I think if we had done that it would've been a much better performance.
"But to shut them out in the second half and hold them to three points, I thought was a good performance and our twos that came in late in the game played a lot better than they did a week ago."
Arkansas' rushing game was better in week two than week one with Petrino seeing improvement from Ronnie Wingo and De'Anthony Curtis.
"Wingo hit the holes harder," Petrino said. "He came real close to breaking a couple. He can't fumble. He's got to take care of the ball. De'Anthony did everything well, except he slipped a few times. I don't know if that's cutting off his inside foot, or he had the wrong cleat on. We corrected the cleat problem, so we'll find out if it's him cutting off the inside foot."
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Arkansas redshirt sophomore guard Alvin Bailey was named the SEC's Offensive Lineman of the Week.
"He graded out real well," Petrino said. "He played physical. He played fast. He did a nice job in pass protection except for one play I think he gave up. I don't even know if it was a pressure, he had to come back late and get the guy off the quarterback. He's a guy that is very physical and can really help us in the run game. But he had a good game, did a nice job."
Petrino thought the offensive line as a whole made a step forward and had praise for starting tackles Mitch Smothers and Grant Freeman as well as second-teamers Brey Cook and Jason Peacock.
" I thought we made a lot of steps forward the other day," Petrino said. "Both of our tackles that started the game played well, played better, still can improve, still can do things more precise. I really liked when our backup guys came in. I thought Brey Cook played real well, really showed some great signs of getting his run blocking down. His pass protection is ahead of his run protection right now.
"Jason Peacock again shows he can play the game when he knows what he's doing and sticks to his assignments," Petrino added. "He still has some work to do in the playbook."
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Freshman wideout Marquel Wade is making his presence felt on special teams, including his 85-yard kickoff return for a score on Saturday.
"He gives us a lift on, number one, his speed and number two, his toughness," Petrino said. " He's a very, very physical, tough player. When he covers kickoffs for us, he's physical and fast. When he runs the football, he's fearless. He's a good football player. When he gets the opportunities to catch the ball and run after the catch, I think you're just going to see, as the year goes on, him getting better and better."
Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith said Wade, who is his roommate, is both explosive and chatty.
"He's just an explosive player," Smith said. "He and Joe (Adams), they're very similar. They're guys that get to their speed fast, guys that are very shifty. Marquel Wade is my roommate, and we've got a good relationship. He hasn't stopped talking about [the kickoff return] since Saturday. We've been talking about it, messing with him a little bit, but he's a very good player and I expect to see more out of Marquel Wade."
Smith has been seeing some time as a standup linebacker so far.
"In fall camp I wasn't really comfortable with linebacker but as practices went on and on, I started practicing, and Jerry Franklin and guys like Bret Harris helped me a lot, and I just got comfortable with it. So I guess you call my position a hybrid. Anything the coaches ask me to do, I just try to be coachable and do it."
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Arkansas has been a quick, short passing team so far this season, but Petrino said he will take shots down the field when they are available.
"I still think it's a work in progress," Petrino said. "We're still calling plays to throw the ball downfield. We're still working at it. We haven't had many opportunities. There were a couple in the first game where we were able to get it downfield. Last week, they were running really deep. I thought the patience we showed was very good.
"…I think when you have that many weapons at receiver, it helps your quarterback a lot because he doesn't have to force it," Wilson said. "If they're going to play deep, we dump the ball down and let guys run after the catch. We've shown we can do that pretty well."
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It seems that defensive lineman D.D. Jones is now both a motivational speaker and a cut-up according to his teammates.
"D.D. is very funny," Smith said. "He's always trying to imitate Jake (Bequette), trying to work on his speed rushing, but D.D. is very good with his hands. That's what I like about D.D. He gets the team ready. Before the games he's a good motivational speaker. D.D. is becoming a great leader for us."
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