No. 10 Razorbacks have fresh confidence this year
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had no intention of playing for
overtime. Neither did the rest of the No. 10 Razorbacks.
After surrendering a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead at Georgia on
Saturday, Arkansas forced a key stop and got the ball back on its
own 27 with 47 seconds remaining and the game tied at 24-24.
Petrino said the distance didn’t bother him, and neither did the
lack of time – not when the two-minute, no-huddle offense is
something the Razorbacks work on nearly every week in practice.
”I think every player out there did believe when we got the
ball, we would go score,” Petrino said.
Arkansas (3-0, 1-0 SEC) did just that, and it did so in only
three plays, all completions by quarterback Ryan Mallett to three
different receivers. The last was to junior receiver Greg Childs,
who sidestepped a Georgia defender and raced 40 yards for the
game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.
”I’m not really sure what the safety was thinking, but he was
thinking the wrong thing,” Childs said when asked whether the
Bulldogs safety might have thought he would go out of bounds after
the catch. ”I had something else on my mind, and he had something
else on his.”
The drive cemented a spot in the Heisman Trophy discussion for
Mallet, who leads the nation in passing yards per game (359.3) and
has thrown nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. It was a
breakthrough moment for the junior quarterback who struggled in SEC
road games last year, completing only 39 percent of his passes as
the Razorbacks finished 0-4.
The win also couldn’t have come at a better time for Arkansas,
which faces its toughest test of the season when it hosts No. 1
Alabama (3-0) on Saturday. It’s the first time two Top 10 teams
have met in Fayetteville since 1979.
”Just to get a win in the SEC on the road is big-time,
especially going into Alabama at home,” Mallett said. ”We wanted
to carry that momentum into this game, and that’s what we did. Last
year was a whole different story, and that was a different team.
This year, it’s a more mature team and we’re excited about
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said the Razorbacks would
benefit from the close win.
”I think you do have to win games like that,” he said. ”I
think you look at Auburn’s game (with Clemson), you look at
Arkansas’ game, sometimes you just squeak out of games. Maybe games
that you shouldn’t have won, maybe games that you should have won
and you just didn’t make the plays necessary to really blow a team
”Those are the things about championship-caliber teams, they
have the mindset. They’re able to bounce back when adversity is
staring them in the face. The fact that both of those teams were
able to do that really speaks volumes about the way they’re able to
Neither Mallett nor Arkansas looked ready for a big game last
year in a 35-7 loss at Alabama. The Crimson Tide held Mallett to
just 12 of 35 passing for 160 yards, outgaining the Razorbacks
425-254 in total yardage.
”We felt like it was a big learning experience for us,”
Petrino said. ”We didn’t execute the way we normally do, and I
felt like it was because when we stepped on the field, we didn’t
truly believe that we could beat them.”
Petrino said Arkansas learned from that loss, pointing to close
road losses to Florida and LSU later last season as examples. Since
a loss to Ole Miss on the road last season, the Razorbacks have won
eight of nine.
”It’s a real good opportunity,” Arkansas junior cornerback
Isaac Madison said of facing Alabama. ”It gives the world the
chance to see the type of football team we have, how we’ve matured,
how we can keep our composure and play with those guys.”