Room for Improvement

FAYETTEVILLE -- Defensive tackle Arrion Dixon heard coach Houston Nutt describe his performance during the season-opening 63-13 win against New Mexico State as the senior's best outing in an Arkansas uniform.

But the Wynne native doesn't necessarily agree despite tying a career-high with three tackles for losses.

"I don't know," Dixon said. "It was a pretty good game, but I think I can do a whole lot better."

It's apparent that never-satisfied defensive line coach Tracy Rocker has rubbed off on Dixon and the rest of the senior-led group as it prepares for Cedric Benson, Vincent Young and the Texas offense Saturday night. The Hogs can't be content with week one's effort if they intend to slow a Texas ground game that rolled to an eye-opening 513 rushing yards against North Texas last week.

In fact, Dixon graded the defensive line's performance with a "C-plus or B-minus" even though the Aggies were held to 55 rushing yards and 1.9 yards a carry. Eleven defensive linemen combined for 27 tackles, 6 tackles for losses and 3 sacks in the opener, but Rocker said they need more consistency against the Longhorns.

"Texas is Texas. They've always been able to run," Rocker said. "I don't care what day, what year, that's what they're known for and they're the same way. I have the same respect for them I had last year. With (Young), it makes it an even greater threat. They've always had great ones there and they're never going to stop.

"It's not like all of a sudden they got a great running game."

That didn't stop Rocker's group from earning an A-plus last season in Arkansas' 38-28 upset win in Austin.

Defensive end Jeb Huckeba was the standout with six total tackles, two for losses, and a forced fumble -- recovered by linebacker Caleb Miller -- when he got his hand on an option pitch inside Arkansas' 20. Labeled the weakness of Arkansas' defense last season, the line smothered Texas and held Benson (13 carries, 27 yards) and the ground game to 62 rushing yards and a 2.1-yards per carry average.

"We were so hyped and so intense," Dixon said. "We were getting push on their offensive line and just running to the ball. We ran crazy to the ball."

Said Texas coach Mack Brown: "They dominated us last year."

Arkansas' front also had loads of success against Brown and the Longhorns in the 2000 Cotton Bowl, holding Texas to a program-low minus-27 yards in the 27-6 win. Lineman D.J. Cooper (2 sacks) led a defense that sacked quarterbacks Major Applewhite and Chris Sims eight times.

Added together, the Razorbacks have held Texas ball carriers to 35 rushing yards on 54 carries without a touchdown the past two meetings.

The Longhorns have emphasized the running game since last season's home loss and return four starters on the offensive line. Behind them, Texas believes its run game has improved with the talented trio of Young under center, Benson and junior speed back Selvin Young.

But Dixon said Arkansas' defensive line also has improved with a year of experience for returners like Jeremy Harrell, Keith Jackson, Elliott Harris and Titus Peebles. The Hogs have added depth with true freshmen like Marcus Harrison, Jamaal Anderson and Fred Bledsoe.

And they're looking for another dominant performance against the Longhorns.

"Last year, we had the D-Line, but it wasn't as good as we are now," Dixon said. "We've got guys that can run better, make moves, play better with our hands.

"That's what set the tempo last year. We want it all to start up front."

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