Razorbacks Know All About Comebacks

LITTLE ROCK — Over the past two weeks, Arkansas has shown that it's a football team that doesn't mind being a bit dramatic.

The Razorbacks have been like a good horror film that keeps fans on the edge of their seats, unsure of what to expect next and unable to leave before the nail-biting conclusion.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had hoped things would go smoothly over the first two games of the season. Instead, he has needed a pair of last-minute comebacks and two improbable fourth-down plays to avoid embarrassing losses to smaller schools.

But hey, at least it's been interesting.

First, Arkansas rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Western Illinois 28-24 in the season opener in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

And then the Hogs erased a 24-6 deficit in the second half to pull out a 28-27 win over Louisiana-Monroe in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

"I promise we're not trying to put ourselves in that same situation," Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick said. "It's good to know that we've got a group of guys that will never give up. We were down again.

"We fought back, kept chipping away at it and that's our motto. When we're down, we've just got to keep chipping and that's what we did."

Despite repeating many of the same mistakes on offense and special teams, the Razorbacks have opened the season 2-0 for the first time since 2003. And they've done it in dramatic fashion.

Wide receiver Carlton Salters caught an 11-yard pass on a fourth-and-10 to help Arkansas rally down the stretch and pull out the win over Western Illinois.

And then the Hogs needed an impressive catch by freshman Chris Gragg on a risky fourth-and-1 play and a missed 45-yard field goal by ULM kicker Jeremy Gener with 36.5 seconds left to earn the win Saturday night.

All of a sudden, the Razorbacks have been more like the Comeback Kids over the first two weeks.

"(A score of) 1-0 is a win and we won 28-27. We're 2-0," Petrino said. "We're where we needed to be going into this Texas game, but we need to certainly improve and get a lot better with this schedule coming up."

Arkansas' margin of error will get much smaller as the schedule gets considerably tougher, starting with Saturday's highly anticipated game at No. 8 Texas.

Over the next five weeks, the Hogs will face four top 15 teams, including No. 11 Alabama, No. 4 Florida and No. 9 Auburn. The brutal stretch will go a long way in determining how Petrino's first season at Arkansas goes and whether the team can be a surprising factor in the Southeastern Conference race.

However, there are plenty of areas where the Razorbacks must improve if they hope to pull off an upset against Texas or anyone else over the next few weeks.

Special teams has nearly cost Arkansas in both its wins, starting with Elton Ford's fumble on the opening kickoff against Western Illinois and moving to kicker Alex Tejada's complete meltdown in the first half against Louisiana-Monroe.

The wide receivers continue to drop too many passes and the offensive line has given up eight sacks in two games. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks must get off to a faster start offensively after trailing 10-7 and 10-6 at halftime to teams not nearly as dangerous as Texas or Alabama.

"Anytime you can pull out a win, I mean it's important," Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs said. "Like coach (Petrino) said, we're where we need to be, but the way we won quite wasn't exactly how we had it planned out.

"The bottom line is, we've got to be able to execute and capitalize on opportunities and really just come together as a team."


Arkansas at No. 8 Texas

KICKOFF: 2:30 p.m. TV: ABC

WHERE: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas.

RECORDS: Arkansas Razorbacks, 2-0; Texas Longhorns, 2-0.

LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas defeated Louisiana-Monroe 28-27 on Saturday; Texas defeated Texas-El Paso 42-13 on Saturday.

COACHES: Arkansas, Bobby Petrino (42-3, four seasons, 1-0 at Arkansas); Texas, Mack Brown (105-25, 11th season at Texas; 185-94-1 overall, 24 seasons).

ON THE AIR: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3.

SERIES: Texas leads 55-21.

FIRST MEETING: Texas won 54-0 at home on Nov. 22, 1894.

LAST MEETING: Texas won 22-20 in Fayetteville on Sept. 11, 2004.

LAST ARKANSAS WIN: Hogs won 38-28 on Sept. 13, 2003, at Austin.

LINE: Texas by 23.

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