FAYETTEVILLE – In the world of competition, when things don't go the way you hoped, it's important to not only learn from what you did well and not so well, but also to learn from what your opponent did well.
For roughly 3.5 quarters, things definitely didn't go well for Sam Pittman, his team, nor his assistant coaches.
As for the other sideline, Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino was putting on a master class.
As the Arkansas coaches prepare for their Top 25 showdown against Texas A&M followed by a visit from Alabama, there has to be something that can be learned, borrowed and stolen from Petrino that is going to make a difference in big games down the road.
So many times the precise positioning of receivers on their routes baited the Arkansas defense into mistakes.
Whether it was a wheel route drawing the linebacker out of the middle of the defense to clear space for a crossing route or sending a receiver perfectly centered between two members of the Razorback secondary to serve as eye candy and create confusion while the wideout slipped undetected down the sideline behind them, there's a lot from which to choose.
The way Petrino designs routes to compliment blocking schemes in such a way that when the pocket collapses it leaves quarterbacks an outlet into an area where receivers have cleared out the secondary and linebackers is worth a study.
While the A&M offense is a bit of a train wreck, the Aggies defense is no joke. Arkansas will need at least 24 points to have a chance to repeat as Southwest Classic champions and keep the overall trophy streak alive.
On this week's film is a variety of ways to slip running back Raheim "Rocket" Sanders out of the backfield unnoticed into open space, all of which have touchdown written all over them. Fortunately for Arkansas, pressure by the defensive front prevented that from being the case multiple times Saturday.
The play that stands out the most is the 4th & 1 touchdown pass late in the third quarter. Using that tight bunch formation on the right edge to create a tunnel for a receiver to duck into and out of sight only to emerge flying past and away from the deepest defender has to have use at some point.
It wouldn't be surprising if offensive coordinator Kendal Briles hasn't already derived at least 10 plays out of that formation for safe keeping in his back pocket that all set each other up.
Battling wits with Petrino makes for a difficult game. The tape doesn't lie.
But that doesn't mean the Arkansas coaching staff can't turn this win into a second or third.
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