FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Senior quarterback Matt Jones was the
star as a young Arkansas team beat overmatched New Mexico State
63-13 Saturday. But freshmen provided some of the brightest
highlights for the Razorbacks.
Jones completed 13 of 16 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown.
The Razorbacks' only returning offensive starter, Jones also ran
for 38 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game after the
first drive of the third quarter.
Coach Houston Nutt praised Jones' leadership as well as his
"He's excellent in the huddle, he's excellent on the sidelines.
He's just a winner for us," Nutt said.
As pleased as the coach was with his most experienced player, he
had to be ecstatic over the performance of his freshmen -- who have
known since before they arrived on campus last month that they
would have to contribute quickly if the Razorbacks are to go to a
record-setting seventh straight bowl game.
Among their highlights: Kevin Woods blocked a punt attempt by
Steven Smith at the New Mexico State 1 and classmate Chris Houston
grabbed the ball and ran it in. Peyton Hillis ran nine times for 32
yards and two touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Johnson threw for 132 yards
and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard strike to Chris Baker that
made the score 35-0 with 5:46 left in the first half.
Six-foot-6 freshman Marcus Monk caught a 38-yard touchdown pass
from Jones, leaping to catch the ball over defenders at the 5, and
keeping his feet long enough to roll into the end zone.
"I'm very proud of them," Nutt said of his least experienced
players. "I just don't want them to change. I get so nervous when
they have a great (preseason) camp."
Arkansas' defense, an overall more-experienced squad, held the
Aggies to 216 yards of total offense. By the time New Mexico State
earned its initial first down, with 10:37 left in the second
quarter, Arkansas had put together three scoring drives and scored
on a blocked punt.
"First of all, their defensive front looks better than the one
we faced last year," said New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel,
whose Aggies lost to Arkansas 48-20 last season. "I know they had
a bunch of young ones, but they penetrated the line of scrimmage
really well and that took away some of the things we thought we'd
have time to do."
Arkansas improved to 5-0 against New Mexico State and has won 22
straight nonconference games -- 21 under Nutt, who remains
undefeated in seven season openers at the school.
The Aggies got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter when
quarterback Buck Pierce hit Paul Dombrowski on the right sideline
near the goal line for a 29-yard touchdown play. In the third
quarter, Pierce threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Lawson.
Pierce was 16-of-21 for 159 yards and both New Mexico State
scores. Justine Buries carried 12 times for 40 yards.
Jones and most of Arkansas' first-team offense sat out the
majority of the second half. Jones was never sacked, but many of
his rushing yards came as he scrambled from the pocket under
pressure. Jones scored on a naked bootleg from the 2 -- loping at
least 30 yards laterally as he ran for the left corner pylon.
Junior Carlos Ousley was Jones' favorite target, catching six
passes for 47 yards.