Sept. 10, 2011
NEW MEXICO LOBO FOOTBALL - AT ARKANSAS
Saturday: Arkansas 52, Lobos 3
Sept. 17: 1:30 p.m., Texas Tech at Lobos - University Stadium
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The New Mexico Lobos didn't exactly shoot themselves in the foot this time, but there was still a problem with feet. The Lobos couldn't get a foot into the Arkansas end zone and the Lobos had trouble catching up with all those fleet and shifty Arkansas feet.
"We didn't tackle very well this week," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley. "Our players are talented enough. We have to do a better job of getting the ball to the ground."
The Lobo tackling vs. Arkansas wasn't exactly textbook perfect, but UNM made considerable strides in three areas that bit the Lobos in their season-opening loss to Colorado State.
The Lobos came up with two turnovers on defense and won that battle by not allowing a turnover. The Lobo offensive line did not give up a sack after giving up nine to CSU. UNM was penalized only three times for 33 yards at Arkansas.
However, when you are playing the No. 14 team in the nation on its home turf, you really need to step up your game in a whole lot of areas. A few of those areas avoided the Lobos as they fell by 52-3 to the Razorbacks of the Southeastern Conference.
"We have to find a way to get this offense going to help our defense from having to play so many plays," said Locksley. "Our defense played a lot of plays and offensively we didn't help them by sustaining drives.
" We left our defense on the field. They (Arkansas) had 81 plays. You give a ranked team like Arkansas that many opportunities and it doesn't bode very well for you. They are definitely a talented team."
The loss dropped the Lobos to 0-2 as they head back to Albuquerque to prepare for Saturday's visit by the Texas Tech Red Raiders of Lubbock.
The Lobos were down 7-3 after a first-quarter field goal by James Aho, but Arkansas' Marquel Wade took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to score.
"Those are huge momentum plays," said Locksley. "We didn't get a very good kick and our coverage lanes didn't have the opportunity to get down the field. I thought that was a huge momentum play for them."
UNM trailed 14-3 at the close of the first quarter. UNM continued to sputter on offense while Arkansas continued to reach the end zone. Arkansas rolled off 38 unanswered points to take a 45-3 lead at the 11:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
"They have talented skill players and they were able to find ways to get them the ball in space," said Locksley.
Arkansas' starting quarterback Tyler Wilson paced the Razorbacks to a 31-3 halftime lead on 18-of-26 passing for 261 yards. Wilson was in the huddle for Arkansas' first possession of the second half, but left the game before that drive was over and didn't return. The Lobos didn't have much better luck with sub Brandon Mitchell (8-13), but Arkansas went more to its ground game in the second half.
It was a huge statistical day for the Razorbacks. They rolled out 632 total yards: 373 passing and 259 yards rushing. Arkansas completed 26 of 39 passes. The Razorback trio of Cobi Hamilton, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright combined to catch 16 passes. The Razorbacks hurt the Lobos with pinpoint passing, but UNM added to the problem by missing a number of open-field tackles.
Arkansas had 34 first downs to 15 for the Lobos, who had 297 total yards: 95 rushing and 202 passing. Sophomore quarterback Tarean Austin went 15-of-28 through the air for 162 yards. Junior B.R. Holbrook got his first action of the season and went 7-of-10 for 40 yards on UNM's final possession of the game.
Arkansas punted only one time in the game - in the second half.
First Half - Arkansas 31, Lobos 3
The Lobos had a few good things happen which could have helped keep the score down. The Lobos got an interception from senior linebacker Carmen Messina. The Lobo defense also forced Arkansas into a long field goal that was missed.
However, the Razorbacks also did a lot of things that moved the scoreboard in Arkansas' favor. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Wilson came out hot, which is how he finished Arkansas' 51-7 romp over Missouri State a week earlier. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 261 yards in the first half. He hit Joe Adams five times for 74 yards and Jarius Wright five times for 63 yards. Cobi Hamilton also caught three Wilson passes for 69 yards in the half.
Arkansas totaled 362 yards in the first half. The UNM defense, which looked solid and sharp in the Lobos' loss to Colorado State, had difficulty staying with an Arkansas receiving corps that featured four players up for an award as the nation's top receiver. It also was not a good tackling half for several Lobos. Arkansas did not punt in the first half.
Wilson added rushing insult to his passing injury as he ran for 42 yards, including a nice 7-yard scramble up the middle for a score with 17 seconds to play. That capped Arkansas' 31-point scoring burst in the first 30 minutes.
UNM also went into the game hoping to contain Arkansas' speed in the return game. That Razorback speed struck for seven points. The Lobos got on the scoreboard off a James Aho field goal, but then kicked off to Marquel Wade. The Razorback danced 85 yards into the UNM end zone.
The Lobos showed a willingness to gamble on a fourth down at the Arkansas 21-yard line. Aho lined up for an apparent field goal attempt, but instead took a direct snap from center. The senior kicker had a decent hole off left tackle, but it closed quickly. Aho took a sharp hit, and Arkansas took over on downs. That gamble didn't hurt UNM much as Messina came up with his interception off a batted ball on Arkansas' possession.
The two Arkansas drives in the first half that didn't end with a score ended with a missed field goal and Messina's interception.