FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino won't have star wideout Greg Childs on Saturday at South Carolina and probably won't a decision on just all who exactly he'll have going into battle until game time.
But he does know what the No. 17 Razorbacks (6-2, 3-2) will find once they arrive to play against the No. 18 Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2) at Williams Brice Stadium.
That's a big-time a big-time receiver in Alshon Jeffery (6-4, 233), a standout running back in true freshman Marcus Lattimore (6-0, 218) and a defense that is very good up front.
"We have a big challenge coming up against South Carolina," Petrino said. "They are a very, very good football team. They have one of the best receivers in the league and one of the best running backs in the league, production wise. We have a great challenge defensively. They are very good on the front four. We have to do a good job blocking in the run game and blocking in the pass game. It should be a good football game. We are looking forward to it."
Jeffery – who averages a league-best 116 yards receiving per game with 52 catches for 935yards and seven touchdowns - is part of a trio of starting South Carolina wide receivers that go 6-4, 6-4 and 6-5.
That height will be tough for the Razorbacks' smallish secondary to deal with on Saturday.
"It presents a lot of challenges," Petrino said. "They are big and they have long arms. They do a good job of going up and catching the ball. We're going to have to rely on getting people to the football, and our safeties will have to do a good job of breaking and helping the corners. The challenge in defending them is that they do a nice job of both running and throwing the football."
Lattimore has 722 yards rushing with 184 of those coming last week against Tennessee.
"I think it is his ability to break tackles and he can also catch the ball and make plays," Petrino said of what impresses him most about Lattimore. "He is very versatile. He doesn't mind running inside, is powerful and then he has got great hips and he can slip through tackles. We have got to get a bunch of people to the ball."
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has had his ups and downs at quarterback, but was especially sparkling in the Gamcocks' upset of then No. 1 Alabama.
"Garcia is playing well and doing a good job of executing the offense and doing what they want him to do," Petrino said.
South Carolina's defense is the best against the run in the SEC and the worst against the pass.
"People have made a lot of big plays against them," Petrino said. "They (opponents) have thrown the ball and got yardage. But they have been able to stop people with their pass rush. That's why they are leading the conference in defense against the rush. Some of it is they played the running game very well, but the other part is they have got a lot of sacks. "
The Razorbacks should come into the game with some confidence on both sides of the football after a 49-14 win over Vanderbilt in which they dominated the last three quarters 43-0.
Ryan Mallett set a new school record with 409 yards passing while spreading the ball around to 8 different receivers while Arkansas also got solid rushing efforts from Knile Davis (17 carries, 82 yards) and Ronnie Wingo (6 carries, 52 yards).
"What we really talked about all week long was our effort and our focus, and I really felt like we did that throughout the night," Petrino said. "We got off to a slow start defensively, but we really came back and shut them down. Offensively, our execution was pretty good for most of the night. Our ability to run the ball helps us throw it. Ryan did a nice job mixing the ball around. We had a lot of guys step up and make plays and catch balls. I was happy with the way we played. It was a good win for us."
The Razorback defense allowed only one first down and just 23 yards total offense after the first quarter, which saw them give up 130 yards and 7 first downs.
"We came out too aggressive and too ready to play, and we weren't really reading our keys," safety Tremain Thomas said. "We just needed to calm down and when we did, we were able to play the defense we are capable of playing."
UA defensive end Damario Ambrose noted that getting in the right gaps and slowing down helped his team.
"In the beginning they were speeding up on us, and we made a couple of mental mistakes," Ambrose said. "I made some myself. We just had to change. In certain plays we were lined up in the wrong gaps, so we decided to make a couple of adjustments on the sidelines. After making those adjustments and finding the rhythm, that's when we started playing better as a defense."
The defense's effort was headed up by a defensive line that was missing one defensive tackle in starter D.D. Jones and lost the other starter on the first Commodores possession when Byran Jones was clipped from behind.
"They did a good job," Petrino said. " They were active and did a nice job holding the point in the run game. It was a different style run game, so (the tackles) didn't get a lot of production, but our ends were very, very productive. I thought our ends did a great job with pressure. Tenarius Wright had a really good game for us, Damario Ambrose had a really good game for us and Jerico (Nelson) had a ton of production. They held up real well inside."
Petrino had no news on the status of D.D. Jones, who was arrested last week and missed the Vanderbilt game.
The Razorbacks' biggest negative besides the injuries on Saturday night was having 13 penalties for 130 yards.
"We just have to work on it," Petrino said, "work on our discipline and practice hard. We are not going to talk a lot about the negatives. We are going to focus on the positives to get better and then you work hard to get rid of the negatives.
Some of those drew the ire of the head coach more than others such as Jerico Nelson's 15-yard personal foul penalty for diving after he had already got to end zone on a 39-yard interception return.
His reward was a little extra special teams duty and there was no leeway just because of his pick and score.
"Absolutely not," Petrino said. "No leeway. None. He had to go in and cover the kickoff. He is not one of the ones on our normal kickoff teams, but when we had to kick from the 15, Jerico was in there covering. It was a great play and he did a tremendous job, but you have to know you can't dive across the end line and put us in a situation where we have to kick from the 15. That's the bad situation about a penalty about that. He was across the line. Next year, they could take the points off the board. I guess they could if he was at the 1, but we all have to learn from that."
Asked if there was mutual respect between Petrino and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, the Arkansas coach said there was certainly respect from his side.
"I can't really talk for the mutual part of it, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Spurrier," Petrino said. "As I was growing up in this profession, I tried to steal as much as I could from him. I always got all of Florida's video and watched it and studied it and see what could help us in throwing the ball. He certainly put a huge statement in the passing game throughout America."