UA Offense Hopes To Back Up The Talk

FAYETTEVILLE — Something had to be said after Arkansas watched as its high-scoring offensive machine sputtered, then stalled last week on the wet field inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Arkansas offensive players, frustrated with their lack of production in a 35-7 loss at third-ranked Alabama, gathered Sunday night for what quarterback Ryan Mallett described as "a little talk."

Their message was simple: Let's get back to playing football, scoring points and not worrying about where their next opponent is ranked.

"To not be able to get going and just see that game run away from us was an ill feeling," Arkansas running back Michael Smith. "I talked to a lot of players, and they had a hard time sleeping that night. The plane and bus ride back was not pleasant, but we got that out of our system."

Against Alabama, Arkansas' offense didn't resemble the same unit that scored 21 points in the first quarter of a 48-10 rout of Missouri State in the Sept. 5 season opener. And Mallett didn't look like the same strong-armed passer who threw for 408 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-41 loss to Georgia on Sept. 19.

"I wasn't getting set in the pocket, (I) wasn't setting my feet and I didn't give my team a chance to win. And that is something I can't do," said Mallett, who completed only 12 of 35 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "I hurt the team with the way that I played, and I can't do that anymore."

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and his staff have spent the past few days looking for ways to get their Pro Style offense back on track following the lopsided loss. They've stressed cutting down on the penalties that have gotten them into too many third-and-longs. They've made changes to their first-team offensive line in practice.

And with the Razorbacks (1-2, 0-2 SEC) facing Texas A&M's top-ranked offense in Saturday's Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas, there's a sense of urgency to get things corrected in a hurry.

"As an offense, we just didn't play with the passion, the energy, the excitement that we've been accustomed to playing with," Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee said.

While the Crimson Tide has one of the nation's stingiest defenses, much of the Razorbacks' offensive woes this past weekend were the result of careless mistakes. Penalties, dropped passes and errant throws by Mallett led to Arkansas gaining only 254 yards of total offense — 284 yards below their average heading into Alabama.

"I think if you play fast and you play hard, then you don't drop the ball a bunch," Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "You might have one or two, but it's when you're not playing fast, not playing hard, that's when you have drops."

The Razorbacks converted on only 2-of-14 third downs, continuing a trend that has troubled Petrino so far this season. They had more penalty yards (98) than rushing yards (63) against the Crimson Tide.

And their high-powered offense — which had ranked eighth nationally in scoring (44.5 yards per game) — got its only touchdown on an 18-yard catch by wide receiver Greg Childs with 10 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

"We had a lot of drops against Alabama, very uncharacteristic of our whole team," Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams said. "Some miscues on the (offensive) line, little quarterback misreads, that's just not like us. So we're going to have to get our swagger back."

McGee said Mallett's accuracy problems at Alabama were the result of several factors. The sophomore allowed his mistakes to build on top of each other, and being that it was only his third start for the Razorbacks, Mallett got rattled by the loud environment and Alabama's defense.

"We know we can play with anybody in the country when we are playing well and we are not having penalties and we are moving the ball," Mallett said. "We talked about that (Sunday night), and we made sure that was taken care of."

Poor Production

Arkansas managed only 254 yards of total offense in last week's 35-7 loss at third-ranked Alabama. It was one of the least productive days for Bobby Petrino's offense since he took over as Arkansas' coach in 2008.

Here's a list of the five worst offensive performances under Petrino, all of which resulted in losses:

Opponent Rushing Yds Passing Yds Total

Texas (2008) 11 180 191

Alabama (2009) 63 191 254

Alabama (2008) 92 217 309

South Carolina (2008) 54 255 309

Kentucky (2008) 236 94 330

Florida (2008) 141 220 361

Hawgs Daily Top Stories