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No. 12 Arkansas seeks to cut turnovers, improve consistency heading into SEC play at Georgia

As Arkansas gets ready for a tough stretch that begins with its Southeastern Conference opener at Georgia, Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino has a few things he's concerned about.

For one thing, Arkansas (2-0), which moved up two spots to No. 12 after a 31-7 win over Louisiana Monroe, had three turnovers Saturday — matching the previous week's total in its 44-3 victory over Tennessee Tech.

"I'm not happy at all with our turnovers in our first two games," Petrino said.

Another issue: The offense got off to a slow start against Louisiana Monroe, with just one touchdown in the first half.

"I get the feeling sometimes with our offense that they think they can just go out and everything good is going to happen right away," Petrino said. "You have to wear them out."

Quarterback Ryan Mallett, who had trouble connecting, acknowledged the problems and gave some of the credit to the Warhawks' defense.

"You can't do that, especially going into SEC play," Mallett said. "That is something that we will address Monday."

Mallett, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, also had a lost fumble and an interception. Greg Childs, who had a dozen catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, lost a fumble too.

With the game at Georgia (1-1, 0-1) this week, Arkansas is starting a four-game stretch in which it has just one home game — against the nation's top-ranked team. The Razorbacks return home on Sept. 25 to face No. 1 Alabama. Then they play Texas A&M in Dallas on Oct. 9, followed by a trip to No. 16 Auburn on Oct. 16.

Petrino complained that the team didn't perform as it should have in the first half Saturday, but also blamed himself for calling too many running plays.

"I get the feeling sometimes with our offense that they think they can just go out and everything good is going to happen right away," Petrino said. "You have to wear them out."

The fans shared his frustration. After a motion penalty that was followed by a delay of game penalty, boos floated down from the 55,705 fans who packed into Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium. All appeared forgiven when Arkansas started scoring in the second half.

Mallett finished 28 of 43 for 400 yards, while running back Broderick Green led the Razorbacks in rushing with 45 yards on 12 carries. Dennis Johnson gained 25 yards on six carries and Knile Davis had five carries for 22 yards. The Razorbacks had net rushing of 99 yards against Louisiana Monroe.

Mallett said the offense made adjustments to get his receivers underneath the Warhawks' man-to-man coverage scheme. The offense had the luxury of waiting for halftime to make changes thanks to the defense.

"The defense played great," Mallett said. "They really held ULM on the ropes for us and kept us in the game."

Louisiana Monroe lone touchdown drive — 70 yards in four plays — came in the fourth quarter, well after the outcome was decided.

The Razorbacks held Louisiana Monroe's leading rusher Frank Goodin to 46 yards on 12 carries and gave up a net 116 yards on the ground. Quarterback Kolton Browning finished with 7 of 17 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown. But at the end of the third quarter, Browning was 2 of 9 for 13 yards, and the Warhawks at that point had 87 yards rushing.

Arkansas linebacker Jerico Nelson, who led the team with linebacker Jerry Franklin with eight tackles each, said defensive coordinator Willy Robinson told the defense to stop the run, a strategy that could serve the Razorbacks well if they can sustain it in the coming four weeks.

"We have to stop the run and make teams throw the ball so that we can get turnovers," Nelson said.