Razorbacks Aim to Gain Focus After 52-0 Loss
Despite the Razorbacks suffering their first shutout at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium since 1966, UA interim head coach John L. Smith maintains a jovial attitude.
“Pick it up a little bit! Get your chin up! Smile! Smile!” Smith told the media at the beginning of his weekly press conference.
He has put the 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama behind him and is now focused on Rutgers, who the Hogs play this Saturday.
“We’re excited about Rutgers,” Smith said. “They’re a good football team.”
Smith said that they are “traditional” on offense. He knows they are able to run and pass the ball effectively and that the Hogs will need to step it up on defense.
Arkansas’ offense will need to be prepared as well.
“They move it around a bunch on defense,” Smith said. “They’re maybe not as big as some of the other teams we’re going to see, but they move (around) a lot.”
Against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Razorbacks had five turnovers, including two interceptions and three fumbles.
“We can’t afford to turn it over, period,” Smith said. “It’s very alarming.”
Who will be leading Arkansas’ offense at quarterback is still up in the air. Redshirt freshman Brandon Allen and junior Brandon Mitchell each took snaps last week, while senior Tyler Wilson sat out with a head injury.
This week, Arkansas hopes to have Wilson back on the field.
“(Wilson) looks extremely good,” Smith said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll get cleared before game time. We would rather have him with us than not with us.”
Wilson took tests Monday morning and said he is “extremely optimistic” that he’ll be cleared to play this Saturday.
“The results were much better than the previous time,” Wilson said. “I am going to do everything I can do to get back to play quarterback with this team this week.”
Even with all of the backlash from the fans toward John L. Smith, the players are still behind him.
“I respect every one of the coaches on the staff,” Wilson said.
Junior defensive end Chris Smith believes the players are also part to blame.
“There’s only so much a coach can do,” Smith said. “It’s all up to us to go out and execute the plays.”
Smith also said that he is still positive that the Hogs can turn this season around.
“It’s still the first half of the season. I’ve always believed that it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish,” Smith said. “We’ve been through adversity before and we know what it takes to win.”
Saturday’s game against Rutgers is Arkansas’ next opportunity to get their second win this year. “Attention to detail” is the key in doing so, Wilson said.
“We have to approach practice like every play is on the line,” Wilson said.
Coach Smith feels that the Hogs need to “get back on track” against Rutgers.
“Right now we have to eliminate the mistakes, make plays and get a win,” Smith said.