Smith said the Hogs had a good week of preparation for the Texas A&M game, but he did confirm the loss of the two starters for the game. Gragg sustained a leg bruise last week against Rutgers. Bennett was bothered by a pulled hamstring in fall camp and missed this week's workouts with a leg injury.
Smith was asked about the availability of cornerback Tevin Mitchel for this week. Mitchel sustained a concussion in the second game of the year. During his recovery, Mitchel also underwent gall bladder surgery.
Mitchel has done cardio work this week before practice, but Smith said the sophomore returning starter is still "probably weeks away."
Running back Dennis Johnson practiced Thursday after sitting out the day before with headaches. He should be able to play against the Aggies.
"Dennis was out there today," Smith said. "He ran and caught everything today."
With Gragg out, the likely starter at tight end is Harrison product Austin Tate. He's been a contributor, especially as a blocker. Smith said the Hogs would also count on Brad Taylor and Alex Voelzke at tight end.
"Tate has to step in and play at tight end," Smith said. "And he's been doing that."
Smith said the offense can also get some help out of the wide receivers in some of the roles filled by Gragg in the slot.
Smith was asked about defensive improvement on the week.
"We've had a real good week of practice," he said. "Our coverage has been tighter. We've gotten our hands on more passes than any prior week."
It appears that Will Hines will remain the starter at cornerback in Mitchel's absence. He was targeted on two touchdown plays by Rutgers last week.
"We won't be a lot different there (as far as personnel)," Smith said. "Will is getting better."
Smith said true freshman Nate Holmes continues to get work at the field cornerback position after converting from running back last week.
The weather forecast calls for a good chance of heavy rains on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11:21 a.m. at Kyle Field.
Asked about the possibility of heavy rains, Smith said, "We are looking forward to it. I think that suits us ... we like mud."
The Hogs tried to simulate the loud conditions expected at Kyle Field. They worked inside Walker Pavilion at times Wednesday where loud music was played. They went into Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Thursday for more noise simulation.
"We are looking forward to our first true road game," said Smith, who wore a T-shirt with Road Warrior printed on the front. "We talked to our group about the opportunity of going into their stadium and they may not get to play there again. We gave them the history of the stadium."
The Hogs and Aggies are scheduled to move the series to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington after the return game next season in Arkansas.