Arkansas plays ULM Warhawks at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. Coach Petrino and the players say that one of their favorite parts of coming to Little Rock is the trip to the Stadium. Make this the most raucous trip into the stadium they’ve ever seen Little Rock!
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net and may be streamed through RazorVision and possibly ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360) which is subject to blackout.
ULM hasn’t played this season so there are only last year’s stats to report. ULM went 6-6 in Sunbelt play last year and had only one common opponent with Arkansas. Arkansas beat Troy 56-20 who beat ULM 42-21. ULM lost 4 of their last 6 games last year. In their three money games last year against Texas, Arizona St. and Kentucky. They scored an average of 15.6 points per game in those contests and allowed an average of 44 points per game.
Louisiana Monroe didn’t renew the contract of its coach Charlie Weatherbie whose team beat Alabama in 2007 and gave Coach Petrino’s club all it wanted in 2008 (remember Chris Gragg’s 4th and 1 catch for 25 yards and Arkansas’ 28-27 win over ULM?). ULM hired Todd Berry who was the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach at UNLV. This is Berry’s third round as a head coach having last been a head coach at Army in 2003 where his total record was 5-36 in Conference USA over 4 years.
ULM returns 7 starters on offense, 4 on defense, and 2 special teams personnel. They return one defensive end and no others on the line.. In terms of stat production, ULM returns players accounting for almost all of its offensive production and roughly 40% of its defensive stats. ULM’s tailback Frank Goodin rushed for 1,126 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and accounted for about half of all of ULM’s rushing yards. Between Goodin and QB Trey Revel, they accounted for 67% of all of ULM’s rushing yards. Revel returns as ULM’s QB as the primary passer last year but faced a challenge from a redshirt freshman in the off season.
Ryan Mallett has made public comments indicating that the scouting report on ULM reveals that the Warhawks will “stack the box,” i.e. playing almost all defensive players within a few yards of the line of scrimmage. It’s one comment that we’ll just have to trust the Arkansas staff’s scouting of preseason ULM practices. Otherwise ULM head coach Todd Berry is starting from a blank slate and could employ any scheme he wanted.
The Razorbacks’ goals for the game will have the same theme as last week. 1. Improve assignments and techniques in a game situation, and 2. Avoid injuries.
Expect there to have been a fair amount of work with the offensive line this week for both pass protection and run blocking. Of all things going into Georgia next week, this is probably the most critical area on offense. We’ll see how they improved to some degree against ULM. The running game would be the next area of concentration for Arkansas. Improving the running game by getting reps during a game would be ideal. Petrino will never have a 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense because the pace is too slow and limits the total number of offensive plays a team can run during the course of a game. Ideally, Arkansas would move the ball at a good clip on the ground as well as through the air, and if ULM stacks the box, it may be just the kind of preparation Arkansas needs for the next two weeks as far as the running game is concerned.
Defensively Arkansas still needs to work on the basics of tackling. Otherwise, because Tennessee Tech was overwhelmed, Arkansas needs to watch closely whether receivers are getting open on pass plays regardless of whether opponent passing plays bust for some other reason. Plays won’t always bust against better teams and any open receivers are a concern. Tennessee Tech would have been an ideal team to play 2 years ago, but this year Arkansas probably needed a team like Troy or some other decent mid-major to sharpen Razorback tusks. Any issues along those lines may not become apparent when playing over-matched teams.
The Las Vegas line on the game has moved from 38-39 points down to 34 points.
With a new coach, new scheme, only one returning starter on the defensive line, ULM is destined for
first game of the year mistakes
first game of a new coaching staff mistakes
first-game starter mistakes,
and to be bowled over by an Arkansas team which is hungry and has something to prove.
Arkansas’ defense will shut down ULM.