FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — Bobby Petrino’s sideline theatrics were a good barometer of how he felt Saturday night.
The Arkansas coach took out his frustration in numerous ways during the first half — primarily on his headset (thrown to the ground), paper cup (also thrown in disgust) and Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson.
And that was with No. 14 Arkansas up 24-0 in an eventual 38-28 win over Troy.
The lackluster performance — particularly in the second half — was hardly what Petrino and the Razorbacks (3-0) were looking for after opening the season with two convincing wins in which they outscored their opponents by a combined 103-10.
It also was anything but a building block as Arkansas prepares to open Southeastern Conference play at No. 2 Alabama this week.
"Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do," Wilson said. "You obviously want to come in and beat the heck out of Troy, but you take the positives out of it and you want to have a good grind where you play four quarters before you step into Alabama.
"That’s the positive I’m taking from this and I think we’ll be ready come Saturday."
Wilson prompted Petrino’s sideline tirade in the first half when he sailed a third-and-goal pass high over the head of receiver Javontee Herndon in the end zone. Petrino’s headset hit the ground before Wilson made it to the sideline. Once he did, the coach mimicked his quarterback’s throwing motion while showing why the ball sailed high.
Moments later, after Petrino had walked away from the offensive huddle, he was clearly still stewing on the missed touchdown when he threw his paper cup to the ground. He quickly turned and marched 20 yards back to Wilson — stepping in front of offensive coordinator Garrick McGee to give Wilson a few more of his thoughts.
Wilson finished 23 of 36 passing for 303 yards, but that wasn’t what Petrino was focused on after the game. Instead, it was how Arkansas’ offense stalled in the second half — with four three-and-outs and a Wilson interception that was returned for a touchdown — and how the Razorbacks let a 31-7 third-quarter lead slip to a 10-point win in which they were outgained 457-454 in total yardage.
"I wasn’t real pleased with what I saw in the second half," Petrino said. "We can play better than that."
While Arkansas was struggling to beat Troy, the Crimson Tide (3-0) made easy work of another Sun Belt Conference opponent in a 41-0 win over North Texas. Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy combined to rush for 328 yards in the win, though Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn’t completely pleased with his team’s performance.
"Some guys played pretty well out there and I don’t think some guys played as well as they could," Saban said. "We need to get those things corrected because we’re going to play a lot better football teams than what we’ve played to this point."
One of those teams is Arkansas, which nearly defeated the Crimson Tide last season. The Razorbacks led Alabama 20-7 in the second half in Fayetteville before Alabama’s running game took control and led the way to a 24-20 win.
The loss didn’t keep Arkansas from reaching the Sugar Bowl, but the late collapse stuck with the Razorbacks throughout the offseason. Now their chance at avenging the loss is here, and Alabama is well aware of the importance Arkansas has placed on the game.
"It’s huge," Alabama center William Vlachos said. "We know how good they are. Everybody remembers the battle they gave us last year at their place.
"We are expecting them to be even better and coming with it."
Arkansas ran for just 64 yards on 20 carries in the loss to the Crimson Tide last season, something it hopes to correct this week. Junior Ronnie Wingo rushed for a career-high 109 yards and had three touchdowns in the win over Troy and is looking to carry the success over.
Wingo said he felt as if the Razorbacks relaxed against the Trojans after building the 31-7 lead. He knows that can’t happen again.
"We needed it," Wingo said. "The first couple of games the starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter, other than a couple of offensive linemen. We didn’t want to end it the way we ended it, but I just feel like that’s a wake-up call to show anything can happen."