New Mexico-Arkansas Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- A nervous Tyler Wilson impressed in his first career start as Arkansas cruised in its season opener. Having four preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list nominees to throw to helped - and should continue to do so going forward.
Wilson leads the No. 14 Razorbacks against New Mexico as the Lobos visit War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Saturday night.
Last week, the junior took full advantage of his long-awaited chance to start after three seasons on the bench, leading Arkansas to a 51-7 win over Missouri State. He went 18 of 24 for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
"It kind of gave me chills a little bit there in pregame," Wilson said. "My focus was there and it really didn't waver too much. The jitters weren't as much as I thought going into the game, and after the first couple of throws, I was ready to go. I was on target."
Wilson, though, split time with sophomore Brandon Mitchell, who went 10 of 11 for 104 yards and a TD. While Wilson is entrenched as the starter, coach Bobby Petrino seems to have confidence in both players thanks to their supporting cast.
"As a quarterback right now in our offense with our receivers that we have, it's really easy to just read the defense, know who you've got to hold, know who you're going to keep and then distribute the ball," said Petrino, who is 6-0 in Little Rock. "You don't have to force the ball to one receiver or force the ball to a tight end.
" ... We feel like all of our players can make plays. That's a great feeling to have as a quarterback."
Joe Adams caught only one pass for 11 yards but tied an SEC record by bringing two punts back for touchdowns. Jarius Wright compiled a game-high 108 receiving yards and had two TD receptions.
Arkansas' other star receivers, Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs, combined to make five catches for 67 yards. Childs was playing in his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury Oct. 30.
"He's hungry," Petrino said of Childs. "He wants to get in there and get more touches, but he just needs to be patient. I really thought he took huge strides forward the last two weeks prior to our opener and better and better each day and faster and getting back to looking like Greg."
While Arkansas had little trouble moving the ball through the air, the ground game sputtered without Knile Davis, who is out for the season with a fractured left ankle. The Razorbacks ran for 102 yards but averaged 3.1 per carry.
Arkansas limited Missouri State to 163 yards of offense - the eighth-lowest total in the country during the opening weekend. That doesn't bode well for a Lobos team that didn't do much on offense in a 14-10 loss to Colorado State on Saturday.
Tarean Austin threw for 179 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked 10 times and stripped of the ball on a potential winning drive with 23 seconds remaining. New Mexico (0-1) fumbled six times, losing three.
"The one side of the ball that I didn't think showed up was the offensive side of the ball," coach Mike Locksley said. "We have to get the offense going ... We are going to find a way to prepare our team for a tough challenge going down to Little Rock."
New Mexico has lost 10 straight matchups with ranked opponents by an average of 30.7 points.
The Razorbacks are 2-0 against the Lobos, last facing them Nov. 28, 1987 and winning 43-25.
Updated September 6, 2011