Ready For Center Stage

University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was on a national teleconference on Monday with 40 media representatives from 13 states from California to New York. He will likely get even more attention than that on Saturday when Alabama's defense comes looking for him.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and a guy who would be glad to take his place in New York City will lead their teams onto the Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday.

But hanging out at the Heisman Trophy television show is not foremost on his mind right now according to University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, who was asked about that on a national teleconference on Monday.

"As far as the Heisman talk, I'm not worried about that," Mallett said. "I play Alabama on Saturday. That's what I'm worried about."

Indeed the 10th-ranked Razorbacks (3-0, 1-0) host the top-ranked and defending national champion Crimson Tide (3-0, 0-0) and Heisman winner Mark Ingram Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

It is the first matchup of Top 10 teams in Fayetteville since 1979.

"I'm sure it's going to be rocking," Mallett said. "It's going to be loud and going to be crazy. I can't wait to experience it."

Mallett, who has thrown for 1,081 yards already in three games and had a Heisman moment against Georgia last Saturday, had one of his worst games last season against the Alabama defense.

The Crimson Tide defense harassed Mallett into a 12 of 35 day in their 35-7 win over the Razorbacks in Tuscaloosa.

"They tried to put pressure on us and they got to us a couple of times," Mallett said. "But I don't think that had anything to do with the outcome of the game. We really just didn't execute as well as we should have last year. "

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino didn't think his team went into that game believing it could win and that's a sentiment that Mallett agrees with his coach.

"I don't think we went into the game believing that we could win," Mallett said. "We've always had confidence, but I just don't think we went in there with the mindset that we were going to win the game. When we got to Florida, that is how we went in. We had a chance to win that. It showed up on the field.

"That game really helped us grow," Mallett added. "They really took it to us. We stayed in there for a half and then in the second half we just weren't in it."

During Arkansas' press conference on Monday and Mallett's teleconference, there was a constant refrain of maturing from last season.

"This team has grown leaps and bounds over last year," Mallett said.

Mallett completed just 39 percent of his passes in four road games last season – all Arkansas losses – but he didn't think Saturday's road win at Georgia was about exorcising any demons.

"I didn't feel like I needed to prove anything to anybody ," Mallett said. "We needed to play well and get the win like we did."

Mallett led a 3-play, 32-second, 71-yard drive that proved to be the game-winner when he hooked up with Greg Childs on a 40-yard catch-and-run.

"When we get in a rhythm, especially in the two-minute, it's just like playing catch; we were just pitching and catching."

He was overjoyed to go for the touchdown instead of settling for the field goal.

"I love that," Mallett said. "We want to score every time we get the ball. As a quarterback, you have to love that. Having that many different weapons means we can attack defenses in different ways."

Mallett has always been a firey competitor and thrives on emotion, but it also helps that Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee lent Mallett a book that has helped him control his emotions.

"Being more of an even keeled player is a difference this year," Mallett said. "I think it showed in the Georgia game and we came out with the win."

It also helps having a defense that is playing great per, Mallett.

"I think we've got a great defense," Mallett said. "They're really flying to the football. On film there are 10 or 11 guys in the frame."


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