These are not the disoriented Arkansas Razorbacks of 2012. Head coach Bret Bielema took the first step in ridding Arkansas of the memories of last season’s 4-8 disaster, and instilling a new breed of physical football with a solid 34-14 win over Sun Belt favorite Louisiana-Lafayette. It was a great first impression for the Razorbacks and their new head coach.
The Ragin’ Cajuns entered Week 1 full of confidence, coming off back-to-back 9-4 seasons and a near upset of Florida last year. However, they quickly discovered that the Razorbacks had plenty of confidence of their own. More importantly, they had a clear sense of direction, something no one in Fayetteville had a year ago during the post-Bobby Petrino fallout.
Arkansas outgained La.-Lafayette 522 yards to 274, racking up nearly 300 on the ground. The Razorbacks 292 rushing yards nearly doubled their highest output in 2012 – 167 yards in a loss to Ole Miss. Arkansas’ offense also executed well through the air. Quarterback Brandon Allen was extremely comfortable, completing 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
Though La.-Lafayette is now 0-37 against Southeastern Conference opponents, the fact that Arkansas didn’t become victim No. 1 is a sign of much better things to come in 2013. Remember, the Razorbacks lost their second game last year to Louisiana-Monroe, setting off a season-long downhill slide.
What to look for in Week 2: Can the Hogs continue to improve? With Samford up next, followed by Southern Miss and Rutgers, Arkansas needs to keep that momentum going before embarking on a brutal stretch of consecutive SEC games against No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 12 Florida, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama. The goings about to get extremely tough for Arkansas, so improving each week is paramount.