Arkansas junior tailbacks Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson feel for injured compatriot Knile Davis, but know they have a job to do and two youngsters to bring along behind them.
They also know there are some doubting Razorback fans because of Davis' injury and talked about that after Saturday's pair of practices ended.
"Me and Wingo have a lot to prove," Johnson said. "You look on Twitter and people are doubting us…We are just going to go out there and try to prove them wrong. We are going to prove them wrong and show the world that me and Wingo can run the ball."
Wingo (6-2, 231) said it's all everybody to step up.
"The situation and how it happened is not a good thing, but you have got to just step up," Wingo said. "I mean everybody has just got to step up their game."
Johnson (5-9, 213) has rushed for 608 yards in his two-plus seasons at Arkansas, including 127 as a freshman against LSU and 107 against Florida as a sophomore.
Wingo has rushed for 572 yards and caught 32 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns in his first two seasons as a Razorback with 4 carries for 86 yards.
The pair went to see Davis at the hospital on Thursday night.
"Me and D.J. went to go see him right before he had surgery," Wingo said. "He's got good spirits right now. He has a lot of drugs in him right now. He has got a lot of work to do. He has a good heart and he has the right mindset right now."
The two then talked about what they had to do as a duo.
"It has been somewhat sad and happy, but at the same time we have to put it behind us," Wingo said. "Me and DJ just told each other that we have got to pick our game up and just take over."
Wingo has shown flashes of potential, but mostly as a receiver out of the backfield.
He made a conscious effort to be a tougher – and more knowledgeable - runner in the spring.
"I think I am running the ball harder, running in between the tackles, picking up blitzes and just knowing what it is going on with the whole football play," Wingo said, "not just knowing what I have got to do, but everything that is going on."
He plans to take advantage of the situation.
"I just blessed and thankful and I am going to take advantage of it, give it my all and come every day with the right attitude and the right work ethic," Wingo said. "…I am looking forward to it, getting more carries and more passes. Anything that it takes for my team to win, I'm down for it."
Johnson notes that he and Wingo are trying to bring along true freshman Kody Walker (6-2, 240) and Kelvin Fisher, Jr. (5-10, 178).
"They are just freshman and haven't played in a real game yet so we are just trying to mentally prepare them for a game," Johnson said. "If you practice hard, once you get to the games, the game will seem easy."
Fisher noted that Wingo has been doing some extra work with him since he made the move from cornerback on Friday.
"He (Wingo) is a great person and an excellent football player," Fisher said. "When it comes to learning the plays, he has great knowledge of the game so him teaching me is a great help. I am just trying to learn step-by-step. I am a couple of days behind but he is getting me there."
Fisher has noticed one difference on the offensive side of a Razorback practice.
"I would have to say the biggest adjustment so far is the extra running that we do," Fisher said. "Being a running back, you do a lot more running, but the practice part is about the same – just go hard all the time."
Fisher is not the biggest young man, but promises to give his all while blocking.
"I am going to come up and try to block," Fisher said. "I still have to learn the technique."
"I felt like it wasn't my best game that I could possibly have because I am still learning the plays, but if he thought I had a great game, that is a good sign," Fisher said. "But at the end of the day, I have got to keep working and striving."
He notes the fact Arkansas was looking at him on both sides of the ball while he was in high school was a plus in the Razorbacks signing him."
"When I was making my decision on where to go, I wanted to a college that would look at me on both sides of the ball because I just wanted to help the team out," Fisher said. "When I came out here it was primarily corner, but now that I am a running back I will just do whatever it takes."
Wingo notes that Walker – who had 66 yards on 16 carries in Thursday's scrimmage – is talented.
"He is coming along good, a real smart player," Wingo said.
Johnson is the school's all-time leading kick returner, a job he got injured during last season and does not want to give up.
"He (head coach Bobby Petrino) ain't brought that up yet," Johnson said. "I want to return kicks."
Johnson has faith that the running game will still flourish.
"I have been around the block," Johnson said. "If we go out there have the mindset that we are going to run the ball, we are going to run the ball. I don't really believe anybody can stop me, Wingo and the freshmen. Our O-line is good and we'll be ready."
Running To The Front
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