Louisiana-Lafayette, the Hogs game one opponent, returned 14 starters from a 9-4 team in 2012 that averaged 30 points and over 400 yards of total offense per game. The upset minded Ragin' Cajuns left Fayetteville with just 14 points and 274 yards total offense in a 34-14 loss.
"I do think that our guys got in their heads a little bit," first year Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said to reporters after studying video of the game. "I think mentally and physically we intimidated a little bit of their attack."
Bielema stopped short of making a direct comparison between last Saturday's opponent and Texas A&M or Auburn. "I don't think we had any problem with the pace or tempo but they'll be teams that run it a little bit faster than they do," Bielema advised.
The game did offer a stark contrast to last year's Louisiana-Monroe contest which saw the Hogs' defense turned inside out by a quarterback it struggled to contain. Louisiana-Lafayette's Terrance Broadway barely managed a third of the 481 yards total offense that Kolton Browning hung on Arkansas in a stunning 34-31 upset at War Memorial Stadium. Stressing balanced pressure, Arkansas defensive line coach Charlie Partridge oversaw an effort that left the shifty Broadway with negative yards rushing by the time the final horn sounded.
"There was the one scramble early in game where he broke out to the defense's left in between the tackle and the end," Partridge noted. "We had some really good conversations on the sideline and we were able to get our lanes tightened up."
While Arkansas did an outstanding job of not letting Broadway do major damage with his legs he did, on occasion, take advantage of a Hog secondary trying to live down a negative reputation from a year ago. "Our pass coverage wasn't very good at times," defensive coordinator Chris Ash acknowledged. "We have to be more consistent with our responsibilities. There are a lot of little things we've got to clean up."
"We beat a very good Sun Belt team," Ash continued. "Are we ready to play an SEC team? Absolutely not. Not even close. Against a good SEC team we would have been in some trouble. But thankfully we're not playing one for a while and we've got a few weeks to continue to improve."
Ash had nothing but praise for his two veteran defensive ends. Senior Chris Smith had three tackles and a quarterback sack in the game. Junior teammate Trey Flowers was named the SEC defensive player of the week for his two sacks and three minus yardage tackles resulting 36 yards in losses for the visitors.
"He (Flowers) consistently was around the quarterback making plays," Ash noted. "He was doing a great job in the run game too."
"I'm just proud of how they approached this game," Partridge echoed. "They both worked hard on their fundamentals and you could see the fruits of that labor show up on Saturday."
"I'm glad it's over," Ash said of the season opener. "The best thing about it is I now have a better idea of what we can do and can't do."
So far, one of those things Arkansas "can do" is face a hurry up offense with a run-pass quarterback and not get embarrassed in front of its own fans.