A Special Player

Arkansas senior Joe Adams earns SEC Special Team Player of the Week honor and he and his teammates look forward to playing in Little Rock on Saturday night.

Arkansas senior wideout/punt returner Joe Adams admits that he has watched his work a few times since Saturday night and gotten a ton of messages.

Especially about the dizzying 61-yard that he sideline to sideline that ended up being his second touchdown of the night in the Razorbacks' 51-7 rout of Missouri State.

"There's been a lot of messages," Adams said. "People just saying, thanks. and they really enjoyed watching me and that was the best punt return they've ever seen in their life."

It certainly didn't start off that way as Adams couldn't see any daylight at first.

"It got blurry at the beginning once I picked the ball up," Adams said. "Then once I got everybody to one side, I kind of cut back across the field and it kind of opened some stuff up."

For running in 69 and 61 yard TDs to tie an SEC record and gobbling up 174 yards on six returns, Adams was named the league's Special Team Player of The Week.

"I was surprised when they told me, but I try to pride myself on being a good returner and make sure I put the offense in good field position and score if i can," Adams said. "There's a lot of other returners out there that did good. I had a good game. But if it wasn't for the other 10 guys Iwouldn't have returned those two."

On both of the touchdowns, fellow returner Marquel Wade threw blocks to spring Adams and he gotten plenty of help from his other blockers.

"We've been working on it during all of camp and those guys pride theirselves on blocking and trying to get the return open," Adams said. " They could block it up, then we can try to make the best out of it."

Adams pointed out that Wade is just as dangerous as him so kicking it to the younger threat might not be a safe option either.

"Yeah, and he's just as explosive as me and can take the return back just the same way," Adams said.

He admits he is looking forward to returning the favor for Wade.

"I don't know what to expect (this weekend), but if they kick it to me I'm going to try to return another one, and if they kick it away I'm going to try to block it up and make sure (Wade) returns one."

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino decided to put two returners back deep this season.

"It helps a lot because if one guy calls it out, then the other guy goes and blocks for him, so you can actually focus on catching the ball instead of the one guy back there and you got two guys coming off, fighting off the cornerbacks," Adams said.

Of course, Adams' returns were very welcomed by his teammates like linebacker Alonzo Highsmith.

"It was exciting because right after we sat down we were looking and then he exploded," Highsmith said. " Everybody had a smile on their face and was jumping up and down. It was real exciting. When he did it again, it was unbelievable. It's not often a player does that and we were all stunned that he had the ability to do it."

O o o

Adams caught a pass for a 35th consecutive game and was one of 11 offensive players to haul in a reception from Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell.

"It's cool we've got a lot of wide receivers and a lot of them with a lot of talent," Wilson said. "It's nice on a night like that, the firs game out to get all those guys catches, and really keep them happy and get them involved in a game situation. I think it's crucial and I was happy we got to spread the ball around a little bit like that. "

The Razorbacks got a touchdown on their first possession of the season when Wilson hit Jarius Wright on a 33-yard scoring toss.

" I think that was the first time we crossed the 50 and you take a shot downfield," Wilson said. "I liked the coverage. We hit the right coverage and the safety bit on the end route that we had and Jarius did a great job winning over the top and I gave him a good ball, he made a quick tuck and it was a successful play. It's always good to start off the season, start off the first drive of a game with a big play like that. It kind of gets things rolling."

On that first touchdown toss, Wilson took a hit from his own teammate – defensive end Jake Bequette – in celebration of the score.

"I kind of saw him out of the corner of my eye," Wilson said. "When 290 pounds meets 215 pounds, it's a little bit of a weight difference there. And he kind of, that 290 got the best of me. I ended up catching myself little bit and was able to salvage a little bit of pride. We celebrated after that. It was alright. We'll work on that."

Wilson did not make it into the end zone on his own, but not for lack of trying. He leaped into the air and was hammered and landed on his head at the 1-yard line.

He's heard his coach is not real pleased with his choice to dive.

"We hadn't talked about it directly yet," Wilson said. "But I've kind of heard through the grapevine he kind of wants me to get down in that situation. But, you know, I kind of wanted to set a tone a little bit. I wasn't going to dive or slide on the one yard line, there. I wanted to kind of get in and show a little bit of something if anything. So, that's kind of what was going through my head."

Wilson knows that Arkansas needs to establish its running game more than it did Saturday, but the opponent's plan of attack kept that from happening.

"They were…doing some line games," Wilson said. "It's not easy to run the ball a lot of times in some of that stuff. We had five wides a lot and we were able to spread the field out. They were mostly a Cover-3 team so if you noticed we threw a lot of just hitch route, basic balls where I can get the ball out of my hand fast and just get into some of our playmakers hands. I thought we were successful and they allowed that all night long. We just continued to take what they would give us."

O o o

Highsmith admitted to having some butterflies while playing in front of a large crowd.

"I'd say the butterflies kind of calmed down after the first series," Highsmith said. " The first series was still kind of a lot for me, but after the first series I'd say I settled down. Personally, for my first game, I think I did pretty well. As a team, I think we did what we were coached to do and what we've been practicing. Run to the ball, I think the defense did that, and the offense came out explosive."

O o o

Arkansas played 10 true freshmen, including wide receiver/kick returner Keante Minor and defensive tackle Lonnie Gosha.

"We decided late in the week actually to play both of them," Petrino said. "We feel like we're going to need them, particularly on special teams with Keante. He is a big, physical, tough kid and has gotten better and better offensively, has great hands, probably the best set of hands on our team just as far as catching the ball. He has got to continue to learn to work on his knowledge.

"Lonnie is a guy we brought in here with the idea that he was going to play early," Petrino added. "He did have the injury, which put him back. But he made great strides last week in practice and we feel as the year goes on we are going to need him to play."

O o o

The Razorbacks will make one of their two trips to Little Rock this season when they travel to face New Mexico on Saturday night.

Adams is from Little Rock and always looks forward to playing at War Memorial Stadium.

"It's big." Adams said. "I love going home and playing in front of my Little Rock fans. There's a lot that don't get to travel up here so I just try to go home and put on a show. Just like when I'm up here in Fayetteville."

Wilson echoed that same sentiment.

"Little Rock is always fun to play in," Wilson said. "There are a lot of our players that are from Little Rock… There's a lot of our players that grew up there. I played state championship games in Little Rock. It's a cool atmosphere. It gives a chance for fans that aren't able to travel all the way up here to Fayetteville to come see us a couple times a year. That's always good. It's always rowdy in Little Rock. Fans are ready to go. It's a fun atmosphere to paly in. I always look forward to it."


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