Arkansas players know Texas Tech has revenge on the mind coming to Arkansas. It will be a hungry bunch of Razorbacks that they find. It should all make for an intense non-conference atmosphere Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas beat Tech, 49-28, last year in Lubbock, dominating the line of scrimmage for the last two quarters. The Hogs lost 16-12 last week to Toledo.
"After what happened last year, they will come in here hungry," said DeMarcus Hodge, UA senior defensive tackle. "But we have something to prove and this is a good week to do it. We are hungry, humbled and angry. I guess we had to get that out of us last year and get back to being humble. You have a different aura around here. Just everywhere you go in our facility, you get the feeling that we are hungry."
Defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson said a sense of urgency has hit.
"It's hunger," he said. "You get very few opportunities. You have to make the most of every one. We took an opportunity for granted last week. You play every week for the national championship. They are that important. We have to play this week like it's for the national championship."
The word of the week at everything the Hogs have done has been "physical." Head coach Bret Bielema revealed that on the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday morning. All players said it's been mentioned a bunch by their head coach and among themselves.
"The message has been loud and clear," Johnson said. "We have to play with a physical nature. That's how we are supposed to play, with a swagger. It's a game of hitting. You have to be physical. You hit the man across from you. It's the way we are supposed to play. Coach has emphasized that."
Linebacker Brooks Ellis said it's the physical message was clear.
"It was loud and clear," Ellis said of Bielema's words. "It's a huge emphasis in every meeting. It was really talked about yesterday in our team meeting. It's our first Arkansas edge, be physical. And, we've done a good job of that this week. We are supposed to be physical. It's the way we are supposed to play every week, every single play. You add physical presence and it grows on every play."
Ellis was asked if Dre Greenlaw's role has changed as the season has progressed. Greenlaw is the backup weakside linebacker behind Ellis, but Bielema has indicated that there may be a time whn Ellis and Greenlaw play side by side. Both are perfect for work against a spread type team like Texas Tech.
"Dre is learning more each week," Ellis said. "He's by my side trying to soak up everything and I'm trying to bring him along. He's studying hard, working to learn everything and watching tape. He's doing well. I have to just keep bringing him along."
Ellis said the chore this week is to match Tech's fast tempo. The scout team is playing at break neck speed to simulate the Red Raiders.
"It's intense," Ellis said of practice. "The scout team runs a play and then runs another one as quick as they can. The coaches are telling us to hurry, hurry. The scout team is working hard to be as fast as Tech."
Can the Hogs use their deep rotation on the defensive line with Tech's up-tempo?
"I think we can," Hodge said. "We are going to do our best to rotate guys and stay fresh. The other thing we are doing this week, try to get our legs rest between our workouts and so we are fresh for Saturday night. It's a big focus to prepare our bodies for the game."
Hodge limped off the field twice against Toledo. Is he ready to go?
"I am," he said. "I got rolled up a couple of times, but I'm just fine now. I think I'm over this the last two practices. I had a night where I didn't sleep much, but I'm over it."
Johnson was asked if the defensive line can mount some pressure on the Tech quarterback. Specifically, can he carry 290 pounds, 30 more than last year? The Hogs have only one sack in two games this season.
"I am learning how to handle the extra weight," he said. "We have done some things this week to help me be ready. I think the extra weight has helped in some things and I have to make sure that I still get pressure."
Tech features a scrambling quarterback.
"We have to contain," Ellis said. "That's the best word. We do want to put pressure on the quarterback, but we are focused on what we need to do to contain him, too. We want to keep him in the box as much as possible."