Arkansas Report Card vs. Western Illinois

Quarterbacks — B+ Senior Casey Dick easily had his best game in his more than three seasons as Arkansas' starting quarterback.

He overcame a slow start to pass for 208 yards in the second half and make several crucial throws down the stretch. His 318 yards passing shattered his career high, and he also scored his first two career rushing touchdowns. But he held the ball too long on several plays that led to sacks.

Running Backs — C

The suspension of expected starter Michael Smith put Arkansas at a disadvantage, and freshman Dennis Johnson never found his way in his first career start. Fellow freshman De'Anthony Curtis showed his versatility, rushing for 36 yards and catching for another 33 yards. But the running game managed only 76 yards , and the tailbacks had trouble picking up their blocks.

Wide Receivers — B-

It was a tale of two halves for Arkansas' wide receivers. London Crawford and Lucas Miller each dropped passes early on, including the one by Miller that resulted in an interception. But he rebounded to finish with three catches for 67 yards, and freshman Greg Childs added another six catches for 88 yards and a score. Carlton Salters also made an impressive diving catch on a fourth-and-10 to keep the comeback alive.

Offensive Line — D

Arkansas' offensive line had a surprisingly bad start to the season, giving up four first-half sacks and providing Dick with little time to throw. The front line struggled with its pass protection, and the tailbacks didn't have many holes to run through. The offensive line improved somewhat as the night went on, but it was still a rough showing.

Defensive Line — D

Much of the talk in the preseason was that Arkansas' experienced defensive line would be one of the team's strengths. But the linemen failed to record a single sack, and there were too many times when they were pushed around by Western Illinois' offense. Nose tackle Ernest Mitchell led the bunch with 4 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss.

Linebackers — C-

Middle linebacker Jerry Franklin recorded a team-high seven tackles, and freshman Jerico Nelson had the only sack. But the linebackers as a whole had trouble slowing down Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson, who finished with 157 yards and one touchdown. But the unit is still young, so growing pains are expected.

Secondary — B-

Arkansas' secondary held Western Illinois quarterback Matt Barr to 10-of-25 passing for 105 yards and one touchdown, but the group received a lower grade because it dropped too many potential interceptions late in the game. At one point on the Leathernecks' final drive, free safety Elton Ford and cornerback Jamar Love couldn't come up with interceptions on back-to-back plays.

Special Teams — D

The Razorbacks got off to a bad start when Ford fumbled the opening kickoff. Punter Jeremy Davis came up short on his punts, averaging only 38.0 yards on three attempts. He also didn't get enough distance on his kickoffs. At the same time, Arkansas didn't get much from its kickoff or punt returners and Alex Tejada never got a chance to attempt a field goal.

Coaching — B

Arkansas was expected to win convincingly in its season opener, but coach Bobby Petrino and his assistants should get credit for keeping the players from panicking during their fourth-quarter comeback. Petrino also made the right decision when he abandoned the run and trusted Dick to make plays with his arm down the stretch.

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