Tyler Wilson was 19-of-27 passing for 367 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of action, pass receivers Brandon Mitchell and Chris Gragg both topped the century mark and Knile Davis made his return to action after a year off with 70 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Three fumbles and the defense giving up 322 yards – albeit only three points in the second half – were the negatives before a home crowd of 71,362 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"We are pleased that we had a win … and there were some positive things on both sides of the football," Smith said. "There were also some negative things on both sides that we have to correct. Our expectations are to do better than we did.
"I know – as a football team – our guys walk off the football field pleased that it was a win, but they are not pleased with how we played because we can do a lot better," Smith said. "They know that and we as coaches know that and we are going to have to demand and coach harder and they are going to have to demand and play better."
Arkansas - which won its 12th straight home game and had six different players score - had 564 yards total offense and scored on four straight possessions in the second quarter to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 35-14 advantage.
Wilson hit Gragg (7 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs) on scoring strikes of 30 and 4 yards, Ronnie Wingo scored on a 3-yard run and Davis blasted into the end zone from the 5.
That came after a first quarter where the Razorbacks fumbled twice. They put three on the ground on the night with seniors Wilson, Gragg and Wingo all having turnovers.
"If we don't turn the ball over, it could have been a very, very exciting night offensively," Smith said. "We have to do a better job of making sure we have ball security, taking care of that thing.
"We came out in the second quarter and scored four straight," Smith added. "We threw it around a lot to different people and we had a lot of different playmakers out there doing a good job."
The Gamecocks did cut it to 35-21 with a drive right before intermission when they covered 75 yards in 10 plays in less than two minutes.
"I thought we played good run defense in the first half and in the second half I guess the positive thing was that we didn't allow a touchdown," Smith said. "That was a positive and something we can build on. We are going to have to tighten up in our pass coverages and that will come."
Jacksonville State (0-1) – led by former Arkansas head coach Jack Crowe - had 227 yards through the air and 95 on the ground.
"They are a very good offensive football team," Smith said. "They came in and they battled and they did a great job. Got to pat them on the back as well."
Crowe – who coached Arkansas from 1990 until the first game of 1992 when his team lost to The Citadel — thanked former Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino for setting up the game.
"Bobby Petrino made the major effort for us to be here and Bobby recruited some great players," Crowe said. "The biggest part of this game was the four or five mismatches they created. They're as talented as you are going to find. Our effort was there from the beginning. We entered with the right frame of mind to win it."
Crowe said he still had fond feelings of Fayetteville despite being ousted exactly 20 years ago after the loss to the The Citadel.
"I'm glad to be here and I love Arkansas," Crowe said. "I am pulling for the Razorbacks. Every time they played the fight song tonight, those words were in my head. I'm glad to be back."
Both coaches lauded the play of Wilson, whose three touchdown passes tied a Razorback record for a season opener.
"I think he is a first-round draft pick," Crowe said. "I think he's got everything it takes. I think he is the best quarterback in the SEC."
Smith is glad to have him in a program that won its six straight opener and is now 93-22-4 all-time in season openers.
"I think he handled the offense well," Smith said. "One negative is that he dropped one ball early, but that happens from time to time. I thought Tyler did a great job spreading around on offense. It was good to see him in command like he was."
Wilson saw both good and bad things as well about the season opener.
"There were a lot of good things that happened tonight," Wilson said. "The first drive (his fumble), I don't know what happened. We didn't take care of the ball at times. But then you see the explosiveness of the offense when we go and score on four straight possessions and put up 49 points. Then we let off of the accelerator a little bit." Mitchell had four catches for 122 yards and junior Jevontee Herndon had four catches for 96 yards and the first touchdown of his career.
The Razorbacks had an advantage with both Gragg and Mitchell being much taller than the defensive backs trying to cover them.
"I can't say enough about guys (Gragg) like that," Smith said. "He is a definite mismatch on guys. The thing Chris worked hard on is becoming more physical, a better blocker – which he is. He is a legit player."
So is Mitchell, who has made the transition from back-up quarterback to starting wide receiver look easy.
"You hear everybody talk about the big body, but they underestimated his speed," Wilson said. "I think we saw that a little bit. If we get those guys mismatched on some linebackers and run them down the field, we can make plays."
Arkansas played most of the game without Cobi Hamilton, who suffered an injury "above the shoulder" on the second Razorback series of the game after having 2 catches for 13 yards.
Smith doesn't expect him to miss any games.
The Razorbacks also unveiled freshman punt returner Nate Holmes, who had an apparent 51-yard touchdown called back because his elbow touched the ground.
"The youngster almost got one in there, but it had to be called back," Smith said. "That kind of shows a little bit of his ability as far as a return guy. We will get some things out of him similar to what we got out of Joe Adams in the future."
It was certainly good for Davis, who saw his first game action since the 2011 Sugar Bowl after missing all last season due to an ankle injury.
"It felt really good to be back out there," Davis said. "I think I did okay for the first game back, but I've got to get a lot better. When I scored, Tyler came up and said congratulations and welcome back. Everybody congratulated me. That was cool."
Smith liked what he saw out of Davis.
Arkansas passed for 400 yards with back-up quarterback Brandon Allen going 4-for-7 for 33 yards. Allen also chipped in two carries for 30 yards to join an attack that had 164 yards rushing.
Dennis Johnson (5 carries, 38 yards), Wingo (5 rushes, 26 yards) and Wilson (3 for 5) all had multiple carries while redshirt freshman Kody Walker had a 1-yard TD run in his only carry and true freshman Jonathan Williams one carry for one yard.
"Not what we like it to be, but when they start pressuring you and doing some different things – we just didn't run the ball like we had like," Smith said. "But again you are not just going to sit there and bang your head against a chair when all you need to do is throw it down the field. Just bang it in there and throw some touchdowns."
After the two teams put up 55 points in the first half, the second half had just 17.
After a vistor field goal that cut it to 35-24, Wilson hit Herndon on a 63-yard TD pass and Johnson ran one in from 9 yards out for the last points of the game with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
The participation chart showed these freshman played: Jonathan Williams, Nate Holmes, Deatrich Wise, MeKale McKay, Will Hines, Keon Hatcher, Otha Peters and A.J. Turner.
Ross Rasner (11 tackles) and Tenarius Wright (8 stops) with Chris Smith, Jared Green and Deatrich Wise all recorded a sack each on a night when the Razorbacks had 11 tackles for lost yardage.
"I think we did good today (on pressuring the quarterback)," Chris Smith said. "We obviously want to try and get him down more. But it was good. I was proud of Deatrich Wise; he came in and played good. Trey Flowers played good as well. We had to play disciplined. We had to do our one-eleventh, like (defensive coordinator (Coach) Hayes said. We are ready for next week. We got our first-game jitters behind us."
Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith echoed that same sentiment.
"We did a lot of things that we can hang our hats on, but at the same time we know we can get better each week," Highsmith said. "There shouldn't be a week after any game that we come in completely satisfied. There are things in the game that we can get better at each week."
Arkansas hosts Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday in Little Rock before returning to Fayetteville to face Alabama on Sept. 15 in a game that will be nationally televised by CBS.
Tyler Wilson passed for 367 yards in just three quarters of action.
Knile Davis looks for yardage against the Gamecocks.
Chris Gragg hauls in one of his catches on a busy night for the Razorback TE.
Former Arkansas QB Brandon Mitchell had a big night for the Razorbacks in his first game at WR.
Chris Smith hauls down Jacksonville State quarterback Coty Blanchard.