Arkansas didn't scare Vandy

Arkansas coaches and players knew they left some points on the field Saturday because of too many mistakes.

Arkansas heads into conference play this week with a trip to Vanderbilt, a team that scored twice in the fourth quarter to win in the Ozarks last September.

With that in mind, UA defensive coordinator Reggie Herring figures the Commodores will be licking their chops when the Hogs get to Nashville. "They beat us and I bet there is no fear in their hearts," Herring said.

Nope, not after the way the Hogs performed in a 20-0 victory over Utah State on Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

There were a few highlights, but just as many low points. Even the main hero, tailback Darren McFadden, was shaking his head about making a key mistake. He gained 184 yards on 20 carries, including a career-best 72-yard TD scamper. But he also fumbled the ball away at the Utah State 1-yard line.

Mitch Mustain was another case in point. He made some Mitch-like throws, including a deep ball to Damian Williams for the second straight game. But his first start also included some un-Mitch like mistakes, like under thrown passes on third-down situations and some ball-handling miscues. He had a nasty cut above his eye from a hit to the head after one of them.

"It was a win, and we are glad to get it," Mustain said. "But we made a lot of mistakes and we sure didn't play like we expected to play or the fans expected to play."

It was Mustain who said on Tuesday that the Hogs not only expected to beat Utah State, but "win big."

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn liked some of what Mustain did, especially the no-huddle sequences late in the first half.

"That got us some momentum," Malzahn said. "I think Mitch is comfortable in that and we'll get to more of it as we move forward. But he didn't exactly burn it up on third downs. We were awful in our first game on third downs, two of 10. It wasn't much better tonight."

Indeed, the Hogs improved to 5 of 13, but that will be a big point of emphasis this week.

"We'll really focus on that," Malzahn said. "We will try to improve that.

"Offensively, we did some things OK. We are capable of being a good offense. We are not too far off. Mitch made some mistakes. But he'll get better."

Herring knows the defense has to get better, too. He was pleased with the way freshman linebacker Adrian Davis stepped in for the injured Freddie Fairchild early in the game. But did not like the way the Hogs gave up ground yards early.

"We were flat," Herring said. "USC took a lot out of us. We looked tired and flat. But we got after them in the second half. We did get a shutout and it's hard in this day and age to get a shutout. I was proud to get the goose egg and hold them out of the end zone at the end.

"We played a lot of man on their wideouts and we will probably have to mix it up more in the future, but I just didn't see any of their guys running past us.

"But I thought Utah State played us hard. Brent Guy, their coach, played for me at Oklahoma State. I know him. I know he's a good person and a good coach. I expected them to play very hard and they did. Hats off to them.

"They came to play. I did think we responded in the second half. I liked our character in the second half and our guys finished strong. We missed some tackles and made some mistakes, but we didn't turn anyone loose.

"We play Vanderbilt, but don't get too caught up in the name. You can take that name off and replace it with Alabama or Michigan because that is the way they are going to play us, like one of those teams. It will be a great challenge. We know we will be facinga good SEC team on the road."

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