Louisiana-Monroe-Arkansas Preview


With an important conference showdown coming up, Arkansas could use a confidence-building performance this weekend.

After struggling at times in their opener, the No. 8 Razorbacks will try to put together a more consistent effort when they face Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night in Little Rock.

Arkansas (1-0) wasn't completely sharp in its first game under John L. Smith and his first as a head coach since 2006 with Michigan State. On Saturday, the Razorbacks trailed 14-7 to FCS opponent Jacksonville State early in the second quarter and gave up 163 passing yards in the first half.

They also committed two fumbles in their first three possessions before turning things around and going on to a 49-24 victory.

"Our expectations are to do better than we did," Smith said. "I know as a football team, our guys walk off the field ... pleased that it was a win, but they're not pleased with how well we played because we can do a lot better. And we know that."

The Razorbacks gave up 64 passing yards after the break while quarterback Tyler Wilson finished with 367, a school record for a season opener, and three touchdowns. Knile Davis ran for 70 yards and a TD in his return from a broken ankle that kept him out of the 2011 season, and Arkansas rolled up 564 yards.

The Razorbacks will try to build on those positives this week at War Memorial Stadium against Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas will be tuning up for a visit from top-ranked Alabama in its SEC opener Sept. 15.

"We're a good football team; we know what we're doing," Davis said. "We have some things to improve on, of course, but we are going to attack those issues and have a better game this weekend so we can go into (the matchup with Alabama) confident in ourselves, which we are."

Arkansas has won 12 in a row at home and is looking to improve to 10-0 against the Warhawks, who will be playing their season opener.

Louisiana-Monroe has not finished above .500 since rejoining what is now the FBS in 1994, going 4-8 in 2011. The school is 0-25 against ranked opponents.

The Warhawks return 15 starters and eight on offense, but were picked to finish sixth in the Sun Belt Conference.

Junior Kolton Browning had 2,483 yards passing and ran for 443 last year. Top rusher Jyruss Edwards is back after a 667-yard, 12-TD season, and Louisiana Monroe also returns leading receivers Brent Leonard (69 catches, 751 yards) and Tavarese Maye (50, 617).

"Arkansas is a very good football team and there is a reason that everybody feels as high about them as they do, they are good. We respect that but we also recognize that we have played against high-level teams before and because of that there is not that apprehension," Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry said.

The Razorbacks have defeated the Warhawks by an average of 26.0 points in the nine meetings but needed a late touchdown to pull out a 28-27 win in 2008.

The last matchup resulted in a 31-7 Arkansas victory Sept. 11, 2010. Browning went 7 for 17 with one touchdown and an interception, while Davis had 19 yards on five carries.

The teams will be meeting for the fifth straight time in Little Rock.