FAYETTEVILLE – Until the world-renowned Blue Man Group showed up on the sidelines at the season opener Saturday night, the University of Arkansas' offense was practicing its own brand of silence.
But soon after quarterback Ryan Mallett and the high-powered No. 17 Razorbacks opened things up significantly and roared past Tennessee Tech 44-3 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Mallett was 21-for-24 passing with three touchdowns and threw for 251 of his 301 yards in the opening half as Arkansas rallied from a 3-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter to hammer the Golden Eagles.
Mallett hit Joe Adams on touchdown passes of 85 and 15 and also a 3-yard scoring toss to Cobi Hamilton.
Dennis Johnson – who had the night's biggest run with a 49-yard burst – joined Broderick Green and Ronnie Wingo with a rushing touchdown each.
The Razorbacks racked up 519 yards total offense, passing for 323 and rushing for 196.
"We did thrown and catch the ball pretty well," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "It took us a while to get our running game established, I did like the way we came out after halftime, because we started to settle down and run the ball better."
The defense, which gave up just 187 yards, even got in on the act with a safety.
"I like what our defense did tonight," Petrino said. "They were out there flying around. We got a lot of people to the football."
It was certainly not a perfect opening half with the Razorbacks throwing a pick, dropping a touchdown pass, fumbling twice (but not losing either), giving up three sacks and committing four penalties in the first two quarters.
Back-up quarterback Tyler Wilson also threw a pick and Arkansas lost a fumble in the second half.
"We can't be satisfied with our offensive performance with three turnovers," Petrino said. "I would like to see our second team guys come in and execute. They need to come in and move the ball as well as our first team."
One of those sacks of Mallett was on the opening drive at the Tennessee Tech 39 with the ensuing ended up being the Arkansas defense giving up a field goal on its first test of the season.
But it also turned out to be their first goal line stand as the Golden Eagles could not punch it after having a first-and-goal from the 1.
Two running plays netted nothing and then linebacker Anthony Leon – who had two sacks – nailed Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb for a 9-yard loss on third down.
"They stuffed us in the first quarter," Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown said. "They beat us on a play and we got stuffed. On the second play, I thought we were going to score and Tre got caught from behind and we missed the play from the backside."
Matthew Barker's 27-yard field goal gave the Golden Eagles' their only points and lead of the game.
Soon after the Blue Man group - appearing for the next 10 days at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville - appeared on the sideline in front of the Arkansas student section.
The trio of performers - who are recognized for the blue-painted heads and non-verbal comedy - removed their shirts to show that they had Razorback ones.
They also tried to "understand and participate in" the Hog Call.
The team and coaches certainly didn't see that as they were huddled up on the other sideline.
"We have to come out of the gates quicker next week," Mallett said. "We didn't come out fast enough, We'll go to practice and watch the film and we'll be better at that next week."
Johnson got the Arkansas scoring going with a 7-yard TD run with 14:19 and freshman Zach Hocker was true on the first of his six PATs on the night.
Alex Tejada – who retain his kickoff duties – had four touchbacks.
His first kickoff was actually brought out of the endzone, but a penalty resulted in the Golden Eagles having the ball at their own 1.
Tenarius Wright blew up an inside running play and Ramon Broadway and Jerry Franklin finished off tailback Jocqu Crawford to make it 9-3 with 13:46 showing.
That opened the floodgates with Green scoring on a 1-yard run and then Mallett hitting Adams on what amounted to an 85-yard catch and run for the score.
It kept going in the third quarter with the Razorbacks scoring on their first three possessions and then sending the starters to the bench.
Wingo scored on a 10-yard run with 11:01 showing in the third quarter, Mallett hit Hamilton for his score at the 5:49 mark and then he hit Adams from 15 yards out at the 2:41 mark.
Adams had six catches for 138 yards.
There might have been a star born on defense Saturday night in new linebacker Leon, who moved from safety two weeks before the opener.
Leon led the Razorbacks with eight tackles, four of those for lost yardage and a pair of them sacks that stymied Tennessee Tech possessions.
"I liked the move from safety to linebacker for Anthony Leon," Petrino said. "His speed (for that poisiton) and toughness really showed up. I think we are much faster in the secondary with Rudell Crim there (at safety) than Leon."
Arkansas returns to action next Saturday night when it hosts Louisiana-Monroe in a 6 p.m. game at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.