No More Cruising

Arkansas' coaches have made it clear to their trio of running backs that they want to see more big plays from them this Saturday when the Razorbacks host New Mexico in Little Rock.

Now that he has tried to run over some people, Arkansas junior tailback Ronnie Wingo is being told to run away from them.

"You can't win for losing, but I will just take criticism and go forward with it," Wingo said with a smile. "This week I am just going to show people I can keep improving. It is not going to happen overnight, but I am not going to worry about it and do what I do."

Wingo had a career-high 11 carries for a team-high 43 yards and also caught three passes for 51 yards – stats that were not good enough for Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee.

"Coming out of the game, I thought he was cruising around, waiting on something to happen instead of going out there and attacking the field and making something happen – which he has the ability to do," McGee said. "It needs to be a mentality change and I expect him to have a huge game this weekend."

McGee didn't see what he wanted out of De'Anthony Curtis (5 carries for 37 yards) either, who was moved back tailback when Dennis Johnson - likely out this week again - came up injured.

"He wasn't bad, but he was kind of waiting on something to happen, he was waiting on the lane to open so he could take off and run down the field instead of attacking the defense and winning one-on-one battles," McGee said.

"That is the challenge for us now – to get our running backs to go out and win one-on-one battles," McGee added. "They get out in open space and the blocking scheme got them to the safety. Now they have got to go beat the safety and score. That's where we are right now and it is a mentality. You can't wait on things to happen. You have to go attack it."

With true freshman Kody Walker (9 carries, 33 yards) also getting carries, the Razorbacks ran for just 102 yards in the game.

That was drawfed by Arkansas' 364 passing yards, but senior wide receiver Jarius Wright did see some potential to balance up the numbers.

"I saw some good things out of backs," Wright said. "I really don't know what I expect to see out of them this Saturday, but just to keep running hard, finding holes, keep going at it in practice each and every day so we can correct our wrongs at the running back position."

While McGee said he was being tough on Wingo, the player said he just takes it as good coaching as the team prepares to face New Mexico (0-1) this weekend in Little Rock.

"I don't look at it as being tough on me," Wingo said. "I just look at it as being a coach and trying to get the best out of me. I saw situations where I should have tried to make a move and probably have made it a touchdown. I just take it and run with it."

Curtis said he knows he needs to make plays, something stressed by Razorback running back coach Tim Horton as well as McGee.

"He said we have got to make more people miss," Curtis said. "That was basically what it was. We have to strive today, strive the rest of the week, strive the rest of the year and play more committed."

Curtis noted that running the ball is not the area that has been the toughest part of his transition back from quarterback.

"The hardest part is making sure of the protection," Curtis said.

Walker scored two touchdowns, including a one-yard scoring jaunt on his first career carry.

"It was great to get in there and score a touchdown on my very first carry out there in front of all those fans," Walker said. "It was a great experience."

He admitted to being thrilled with the pre-game atmosphere, which included being greeted by the fans as the team arrived by bus at the stadium.

"Just being a part of this, coming here on the bus and seeing the fans and they were packed and waving at us," Walker said. "The Hog Walk was amazing. Running out of the A was a great feeling. Words can't express it, you just have to go through it to experience it."

Walker was running high on that first touchdown and belted at the goal line. His coaches have stressed how he needs to run with his pads lower.

"It is difficult (to learn), but they drill it in you every day," Walker said. "I know that sometimes I stay a little high, but I am working on it. I'll get better."

Missouri State sold out on run blitzes with its 3-4 package, but New Mexico will bring a different look this weekend per Wingo.

"They run a lot of four down, 4-2 front," Wingo said. "Last week they ran a lot of 3-4 so that makes it better. Last week we had like seven men in the box so that made it hard to run the ball. This week it will be just a six-man box so it should be better for us."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories