With the Razorbacks putting in a host of new schemes under a new set of coaches, glitches and bumps were expected. They just diden't expect the culprit would be a veteran offensive line.
Struggling to pass protect for the entire first half — giving up four sacks — the experienced offensive front looked more like a new group still learning the ropes.
"It was kind of just some different missed assignments," said Jonathan Luigs, the 2007 Rimington Award Winner given to the top center in the country. "The line would start one way and the back would go another. So it was really just some miscommunication and I think it was some first-game jitters with being out for the first time with the lights on."
Jitters or not, Arkansas' offense — and even more specifically the offensive line — was definitely not hitting on all cylinders. Particularly in the first half, when quarterback Casey Dick was constantly harassed by the Western Illinois defense and the Arkansas running game was proving to be a nonfactor.
"It was a challenge, but we figured it out in the second half and got some things fixed, and we figured out what they were doing," Dick said. "But they kept fighting just like we did, and like I've said, we've got to continue to fight when things aren't going well. And we continued to fight and ended up winning."
True, Arkansas did rally for a 28-24 win against the Leathernecks. But even in victory, the struggles on offense were somewhat alarming.
"It was the first outing and there's definitely room for improvement," Luigs said. "I think Casey got pressured and we had to make some adjustments through the game on how we were going to block them. Not making excuses, because they really came with it and put pressure on Casey."
For Luigs and his offensive line teammates, Saturday served as a wakeup call.
"A little bit (surprised)," Luigs said. "I thought we were more prepared than we were. We had three weeks to work on (Western Illinois) and their defense.
"But it felt like I was a freshman out there again, just from the new system and the way it went. So I can only imagine what it was like for the rest of the guys."
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