- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (AP) - Bobby Petrino faced exactly one question at his weekly news conference about New Mexico, the Razorbacks’ opponent on Saturday.

It wasn’t Petrino’s fault that most of the focus was on Arkansas’ 51-7 win over Missouri State last week. For a team that entered the season with question marks at quarterback, on the offensive line and in the running game, the convincing win provided a host of answers.

It also offered a measure of assurance for the No. 14 Razorbacks (1-0) while preparing to face the Lobos (0-1) in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on Saturday. With the first test out of the way, Petrino is eager to improve with Southeastern Conference play and a trip to Alabama looming in two weeks.

“We feel like we have a lot to work on and we have to get better,” Petrino said.

The big question was at quarterback, where junior Tyler Wilson took over for Ryan Mallett, now in the NFL. Wilson was efficient, if not spectacular, in his starting debut _ finishing 18 of 24 passing for 260 and a pair of touchdowns while guiding the Razorbacks to scores on each of his four possessions.

Sophomore backup Brandon Mitchell also saw plenty of action during the blowout, finishing 10 of 11 for 104 yards. The combined 28 of 35 passing performance left New Mexico coach Mike Locksley searching for superlatives this week.

Other than Arkansas’ potent offense, Locksley’s main concern this week is his offensive line, which gave up 10 sacks in a 14-10 loss to Colorado State last week. Locksley said the line wasn’t to blame for all the sacks; he noted that receivers ran the wrong routes and quarterback Tarean Austin held on to the ball too long.

The sacks set New Mexico back 47 yards. Nine penalties and six fumbles _ three of which were lost _ didn’t help, either.

“I’m hopeful that those were just first-game mistakes and they were made by guys playing their first football as Lobos,” Locksley said. “We can get those things corrected.”

They should start soon. The Arkansas defense forced Missouri State into six three-and-outs last week, allowed only 163 yards of total offense and led the SEC in quarterback sacks last season.

One of the reasons for lockdown performance last week was the standout debut of junior college transfer Alonzo Highsmith at outside linebacker. Highsmith, the son of the former Miami running back with the same name, had a pair of tackles for losses in the win.

He wounded eager to see the Lobos.

“Anytime you hear about a team giving up a lot of sacks, it makes you even more anxious to get out and play and pin our ears back and go get him, too,” Highsmith said.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson was a bit more cautious in his approach than Highsmith, making it clear the Lobos are a step up in competition over Missouri State.

“I think where they fall short a little bit is they have a veteran skill group,” Robinson said. “But where it doesn’t match is they have youth on the offensive front, and we’ve got to be able to take advantage of that.”

One area Petrino wants to see improve is his running game. With three new starting offensive linemen and a backfield in flux after the season-ending injury suffered by Knile Davis last month, the Razorbacks averaged only 3.1 yards per carry last week.

Senior De’Anthony Curtis provided a spark for Arkansas with 37 yards on only five carries, but Petrino expects more than the 102 rushing yards total of a week ago this week.

“I don’t think we did as good as we should have,” Curtis said. “But I believe in the o-line, I believe in the coaching and I believe in us as a running back crew that when the time comes, we will have a stellar game and will know when to break out.”

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