Excitement Builds for Hogs
“I think we have an opportunity, without a doubt, to make something special happen and to be something special this year,” head coach John L. Smith said. “Those opportunities just don’t come around all the time in life, but I think our football team, we’re trying to express that we have an opportunity to do something special this year. Let’s go do it.”
All Razorback football fans are excited about the leadership provided by fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler Wilson, but the Razorbacks are a veteran filled team and there is leadership all across the field.
“It’s crucial that you have those guys, but it’s not only Tyler leading this year,” Smith said. “I’ve seen much more from all of the seniors. I see there’s more than just one leader. Knile’s doing a great job, as is Tank, as (are) all of the guys, even those that are not captain. You know, Cobi Hamilton is trying to take on a leadership role. I think they all are and I think they’re all trying to hold each other more accountable, trying to take more ownership of the program.”
One of the problems that kept the Razorbacks from being a true SEC Western Division contender last year was a weaker defense. The general consensus is that problem won’t be as glaring this year as it has in the past.
“I think we’re better up front,” Smith said. “That’s the first thing that comes to my mind, so I think from that standpoint, being better up front, I think we may have to gamble less. If you gamble less, hopefully, you know, we’ll have less big plays against us, so from those standpoints, I see us being better on the defensive side of the ball.”
There have also been defensive coaching changes that many fans feel have already made the team significantly better.
“Haynes is a demanding guy, you know, but at the same point…I think they look at him, they know he cares about them and they do love him,” Smith said of defensive coordinator and secondary coach Paul Haynes.
The Razorbacks are expected to once again be one of the best offenses in the nation. However, after losing three receivers to the NFL draft, there are some question marks and young players will have to step up and contribute, but Smith feels they have the players to fill the hole left by Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs.
“Demetrius Wilson…has to help us and he has the talent to help us. So it’s a matter of us, as coaches, bringing him along as fast as we can,” Smith said. “Some of the other wideouts are going to have to step up and a guy like (Keon) Hatcher seems physically mature enough to maybe be placed in that role…I like (D’Arthur) Cowan. I see a guy there with hand speed that could step up and help us this year right off the bat.”
Of course, a highly anticipated event on the offensive side of the ball is the return of running back Knile Davis, who is confident and ready to get the season started.
“While I was hurt I was trying to stay with the offense, learning everything, but it’s pretty much the same and I’m interested to get started, get back in it with these guys,” Davis said. “I’m 100 percent, cutting full speed, strength, power is back. As far as confidence, just knowing the game, knowing your responsibilities…you’ve got to be able to play fast to play confident, just knowing what you’re doing.”
The Razorbacks open the season against Jacksonville State on Sept. 1.