FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 17: Head Coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks yells at a official during a game against the Troy Trojans at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat the Trojans 38 to 28. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Actually, I hope our Razorbacks are gathered around television screens this very moment learning from the tape of the Troy game, for I think we can all agree that they have some areas that need serious improvement. But as a fan, I will pack away the good memories of this game and try to forget the rest. We won in the end, so there is no need to go back and keep picking at the wounds if you are a fan. Yet, we wouldn't me much of a blog here if we only looked at the immediate present. Back to Saturday night we go, and this tale of two teams wearing the same red and white seems to call for a CHEERS and JEERS format. Let's start with a CHEERS.
CHEERS: To the fact that we are 3-0, which is where we wanted to be at this point, even if we weren't as impressive as we had hoped in the last of those three games. We avoided any upsets and enter SEC play with no "L" attached to our name. Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia, MSU, Kentucky, and Tennessee all have one of those "L's." The Hogs are now 28-0 against the Sun Belt.
JEERS: To any of the players or coaching staff who didn't take Troy seriously as an opponent and might have been looking ahead to Alabama. Troy had two weeks to prepare for the Hogs, and they had all the motivation in the world to beat an SEC team on their home turf. If you want to be champions, you take every game seriously.
CHEERS: To Ronnie Wingo, who topped the one hundred yard mark at 109 yards rushing and two great td runs along with a passing touchdown. Ronnie is our first one hundred yard rusher of the year. He was also named the player of the game by the broadcasters.
JEERS: To the price it took to play these guys. The Hogs shelled out $900,000 to Troy for their appearance in Fayetteville. I understand that is just the reality of modern football. But I also can't help but think how many scholarships that sum would also pay for. Or many other good and worthy things in the world more serious than a game.
CHEERS: To Tramain Thomas for getting his first pick of the year. I am confident that isn't also the last.
JEERS: To the offense who went subsequently three and out after the pick.
CHEERS: To the side of Joe Adams that produced a much needed touchdown when things were getting tight in the second half. Explosive is an understatement.
JEERS: To the side of Joe Adams that fumbled a punt return and once on a carry.
CHEERS: To the side of Tyler Wilson that produced yet another 300 yard passing game for a Petrino offense and two touchdowns. This makes the 22nd time in 40 games that Petrino at Arkansas has had a 300 plus yard game from his quarterback's arm. That had happened only 16 times in the history of the program before Petrino arrived.
JEERS: You see a theme here? Our players showed their best and their worse in this game. To the Tyler Wilson who couldn't move the offense in the second half and one pick turned for six. Ronnie Wingo also trailed off in the second half in his production. Champions are consistently good. As far as I know, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type teams don't usually win championships.
CHEERS: Chris Gragg, who I thought had a good night catching the ball and making yards after catch. He had four catches for 68 yards with a long of 38 yards.
JEERS: To our defense who gave up 457 yards of offense to Troy. In comparison, the Arkansas offense produced 454 yards of offense.
CHEERS: To the Troy recievers who dropped numerous catches and to their field goal kicker who missed two field goals.
JEERS: Think how bad our secondary would have looked if those Troy recievers had caught those passes. As is, our secondary looked nowhere in the league of what LSU and Alabama have. Petrino was quoted as saying, "We didn't have enough confidence to turn around and look for the ball." Well, we need to find that confidence in a hurry! And why, pray tell, do our defensive backs lack this confidence? Don't they practice to gain it?
CHEERS: To the kickoffs that went into the end-zone.
JEERS: To Hocker for kicking it out of bounds and putting Troy on their forty yard line. Again, more Jekyll and Hyde play.
CHEERS: To the disgusted look on Bobby Petrino's face towards the end of the game. He knows what an ugly win this turned into and is no doubt going to work hard this week in getting as many things corrected as he and his coaching staff can.
JEERS: To us hardly getting any pass rush on the Troy qb and to our guys playing matadors out there with the Troy defense. The line play is the thing that worries me the most at this point. It all starts on the lines. And we didn't look like SEC material on either line for much of last night.
CHEERS: To the Hogs getting only four penalties and losing just 27 yards. Troy had seven and lost 75 yards. It should have been, eight, however, for that was grounding in the second half by Troy, and Petrino let the refs know it didn't he?
JEERS: To another year of having to look at the little sledge hammers on the helmets. I would prefer a clean Hog helmet, traditonalist that I am. But if they have to give out stickers, why not get something related to our mascot or our university? Little tusks? Little A's? Little Hogs? I know the hammer relates to a motivational ploy in practice. But I think consistency with mascot is something that should be taken into account. And I would think Jeff "The Brand" Long would agree with me.
CHEERS: To Tyler doing a better job of sliding and getting down and avoiding season ending hits.
JEERS: To the Corso commercial where he picks up a mascot head at the dry cleaners. The first 100 times it was kinda cute. The second 100 times, just annoying!
CHEERS: To the reappearance of Dennis Johnson. He had four carries for twenty yards. His longest was 15 yards. Not really a rushing appearance to write home about, but a journey of a thousand yard rushing season begins with the first hand off, right? Would love to see Dennis get that kinda season. The question of will he return kicks was also answered. He returned two kickoffs for a total of 54 yards with 35 yards being the longest.
How about we end on a CHEERS?
BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: There certainly are reasons for concern about entering SEC play come next week in Tuscaloosa. Our Hogs got pushed around last night, which is not necessarily a bad thing (we still won) if the Hogs can learn from it and better prepare themselves for SEC action. After seeing LSU play on Thursday night and knowing that Alabama shutout their opponent and has looked good in all three games of their 3-0, I have to say my confidence meter for the Hogs winning the SEC has taken a tilt to pessimism. But it is a pessimism that hasn't forgotten that they played last night without Jake Bequette, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs, that the offense likely has some tricks up the Petrino sleeve that they have not shown yet, and that the Hogs have a history of playing up to their competition as well. The players know that next week's game has a tremendous amount of importance attached to it; there won't be any question of motivation. I feel certain that we will play a better and more consistent game of football next week. Until then, have a Woo Pig Sooie! of a week yourself.