Razorbacks Ready to Play

Arkansas senior Brey Cook is ready to play Texas. He knows now why he has always disliked the Longhorns.

HOUSTON -- Arkansas captain Brey Cook wasn't sure why he was supposed to hate the Texas Longhorns. He just knew.

But after a little over 24 hours in Houston, Cook is sure why everyone in his family trained him to despise Texas. And, Martrell Spaight found out soon after a shopping trip in the massive shopping complex which hooks onto the Hogs' hotel that the game is being played in the Longhorns backyard.

And, if the Hogs didn't know that then, they found out Friday night at the Rodeo Bowl when they beat the Longhorns fair and square twice, but they were called back for do-overs until Texas won.

"I am not supposed to talk about them cheating," Cook said. "I defer to Coach (Bret) Bielema. But we are agitated and ready to play them now. We have to wait two more days, but we are ready to play."

Bielema talked a bit about the home cooking the Hogs got at the Rodeo Bowl at the Advocare Texas Bowl luncheon with a soldout crowd and both teams attending.

"We hope to get a different set of refs for the game," Bielema said. "We did have a great time at the rodeo."

Cook did try to set the record straight about the winner at the Rodeo Bowl, which included some events like a lasso and pin of each shool's mascot, a calf throw-down and a stick horse race.

"The way I understand it, Texas lost the competition," Cook said. "So they said they didn't understand the rules. So we came back and had another event and beat them again. They said again they didn't understand and we came back a second time with another event. They finally won a event and said that they won."

At that point, bowl officials -- not the ACC crew led by referee Ron Cherry set to call the Monday night game -- called it a Texas victory.

Cook was not chuckling about the whole deal.

"Lets just say we are ready to play the game. I know how fans feel about Texas. They love to beat Texas. I feel that way, too. I left that (Rodeo Bowl) muddy and not sure exactly what happened, but I'm ready to go now.

"I grew up in Arkansas with my parents and grand parents teaching me that I hate Texas. I knew I hated Texas, but I was not sure why. I've heard a lot about Texas in the last two weeks. I know now why I don't like them. I feel the same way about Texas that I do LSU.

"This game has definitely been built up in our locker room. We know who did what through the years. We've heard the stories."

Most of the stories, Cook has heard through the years. Bielema has told some of them to players in the last two years, some from far away places with no knowledge of the series.

"I'm from Arkansas and I know them," Cook said. "So I think he's done a good job of laying them out there for the rest of the guys. We know the series pretty well."

Trey Flowers was one of three Hogs put on stage at the luncheon, with Brandon Allen and Jonathan Williams.

The moderator asked players from both sides about their knowledge of the rivalry between the two schools.

"I didn't grow up in Arkansas, but I think I understand it now from tweets from our fans," Flowers said. "I quickly understood our fans don't like anything orange."

Texas players did not chuckle.

Allen said he had grown up around the game, with his father coaching against twice during his Arkansas time on Houston Nutt's staff.

"I think I understand it," Allen said. "I know it means a lot for our fans."

Now it means something to the Arkansas players.

"My blood was boiling last night," Cook said. "I've got a lot of energy to play them. They saw us. We saw them. It's definitely a rivalry game."

Linebacker Martrell Spaight said it didn't take long for him to get a full dose of Texas spirit and the realization that this was a road game. He was in a shop at the Gallaria, where the Hogs are housed in the Westin Hotel.

"I was looking at something and I heard what I thought someone was telling me, to go beat Texas," Spaight said. "I told them, thank you, yes we will beat them. No, the guy said, I am telling you Texas is going to beat you. We are getting an ear full from Texas fans. That got to me."

As did the rodeo.

"I did one event, the lasso," Spaight said. "I found out that cowboy is not in my future."

Spaight knows his immediate future is containing 230-pound Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

"He goes through his progressions, then he is looking to scramble," Spaight said. "He's going to pull it down and run it if he sees certain coverages. We see that on tape. We have to contain him in the pocket. That's when he's dangerous, getting out and scrambling on keepers. He's a strong runner."

That was one of the few comments at the media event not dealing with the history of the Arkansas-Texas game.

Bielema and his opposite number at Texas, Charlie Strong, both talked about the rivalry. They were asked if it would be good for the teams to play on a regular basis. Both dodged around it, although Bielema seemed to embrace it more than Strong.

There was footage of the pass that lifted Texas past Arkansas in 1969 in the highlights shown at the luncheon, the fourth-and-2 pass from James Street. It was mixed into highlights of other national championship plays for Texas through the years.

Strong later said, "I talk to our former players and a lot is made of that game, but they all say there were other pretty good games in the series like 1959 and 1961. There were great plays in those games, too."

There was little news coming out of the media opportunity Saturday afternoon. Strong was asked if wide receiver Jaxson Shipley, battling an injury, could play in the game. Strong revealed that Shipley was good to go. Earlier, Bielema was asked about the health of tight end AJ Derby. The senior playmaker has been cleared to play after missing the Missouri game with a minor knee surgery.

The Advocare Texas Bowl kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Monday. All tickets have been gone since the first week the pairings were announced. It's listed as a sellout at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

Interestingly, the officials in charge of the media events surrounding the bowl have been swamped by requests. After hosting Minnesota-Syracuse last year, and a Minnesota-Syracuse pairing in 2012, perhaps they didn't expect the crush of media outlets covering Arkansas and Texas.

At any rate, they have filled over 200 requests for media credentials. The media opportunity after the luncheon on Saturday was in a smallish conference room and there were about half enough seats for the working press. There was not enough room for the tripods of all of the TV cameras. If you didn't set up a tripod 45 minutes early, you were shut out.

The luncheon was soldout for the first time. There were apologies to media traveling to the event because there were not enough seats for them to eat at the luncheon. About half -- even those with RSVPs -- sat on chairs against the back wall.

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