Cedric Cobbs carried the ball 13 times for 29 yards against UNLV in Arkansas' opener, but it was his final yard of the day that made the difference.
The sophomore tailback scored on a 1-yard run with just 18 seconds showing in the fourth quarter, lifting Arkansas to a 14-10 win coming from behind, and finally allowing Razorbacks head coach Houston Nutt to exhale.
"We played a very good football team, and we've come a long way since (UNLV) beat us last year in the Las Vegas Bowl," Nutt said. "Our defense played extremely well; it seemed like we were much quicker than last year.
"Offensively is where we've got a ways to go; we've got to take care of the ball."
Nutt knows that a repeat performance will not get it done when No. 8 Tennessee rolls into Fayetteville on Saturday for a 9 p.m. kickoff (TV: espn2).
The Hogs' offense turned the ball over six times and entered its final drive with just 65 total yards. Nutt's team failed to convert on all 14 of its third down conversions, and needed two fourth-down conversions to score the game-winning touchdown.
"That's a bad feeling," Nutt said of the Hogs' 0 percent third-down conversion rate. "You don't ever dream that it would happen like that. It shows the improvement that we have to make."
The main improvement has to come from Cobbs and the rest of the Arkansas backfield that combined for 25 yards against UNLV, according to Nutt.
"We've got to get (Cobbs) going, because when he goes, we go," he said.
After rushing for 668 yards his freshman year, Cobbs entered his 2000 sophomore campaign with high expectations. He was a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back, and a member of numerous All-SEC teams.
However, he played in only three games last year before he separated his right shoulder. He received a medical hardship, which earned him an extra year of eligibility.
In order for holes to open up for the sophomore gem, the Arkansas passing game will have to produce better than its dismal showing against UNLV. The Hogs tossed three quarterbacks around during the game, before finally settling on junior college transfer
Ryan Sorahan in their game-winning drive.
Nutt announced early this week that Sorahan would be starting as center against Tennessee.
"Right now, we're just trying to take the one who's going to help us put it in the end zone," he said. "Sorahan has got the starting nod right now, but Zak Clark and (Tarvaris Jackson and Gerald Howard) have to be ready too."
Arkansas quarterback coach David Lee has been impressed with what he has seen from his new signal caller, but was not enthusiastic about such a weak first outing.
"We got (Sorahan) a few more snaps this week and he should be ready to go," Lee said. "Offensively against UNLV, everybody took turns playing bad. Everything you can't do in order to sustain a drive, we did. Looking at game film, it was a freak of nature
how we missed every third-down conversion."
The sophomore completed just 3 of 9 passes on that drive, but he connected on fourth-down tries to Steven Harris and George Wilson to set up Cobbs' touchdown run.
"He's got a great attitude, really smart," Lee said of the California native, Sorahan. "He's very confident, and just a great competitor."
Lee, a former coach and player at Vanderbilt, says he is well aware of the caliber of defense the Volunteers perpetually offer.
"I've always had a great deal of respect for Tennessee," he said. "Coaching at Vanderbilt, I know that year after year, they bring a great defense."
The contest between Arkansas and Tennessee will be the first game in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium since its expansion and renovation in the off-season.
"It's a beautiful place," Nutt said. "It'll be interesting for Tennessee fans to see it. It's maybe not as big as Neyland Stadium, but it's just phenomenal."
Published: Fri Sep 07, 2001 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 03:46 p.m.