Tuesday Grid Update, 9/22

Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith and quarterback Brandon Allen are spending a lot of time with the youngsters after losing all three starting receivers to injuries.

Arkansas wide receiver coach Michael Smith had already been to the hospital three times to see all three of his starting wide recievers and was back there on Tuesday when his daughter had to have her appendix out.

"I've been doing this a long time and I have never seen anything like this," Smith said. "I have been over the emergency room a lot...I was there today when my daughter had her appendix taken out. I am tired of going to hopsitals to be honest with you."

The loss of Keon Hatcher, Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius have pushed Drew Morgan, Jojo Robinson, Kendrick Edwards and Damon Mitchell to the front of the line and have made it even more urgent for junior college transfer Dominique Reed to get going.

"Like I told them (the wide receivers) today," Smith said, " and I challenged them Sunday when we had meetings, 'fellas, it's part of the game and we have got to respond. Somebody in this room and step up.' Drew has taken charge now and is being the leader. Jojo and Kendrick both played well last week and I think they saw that if they put the time in and prepared the way they did last week, they will like the results."

Smith knows that his group has been mentally hurt by the physical injuries, but they have to push through it.

"I think they are disappointed, but our challenge as coaches is to get them to move on. I thought last week we did move on, but unfotunately we had another setback. These kids are resilent, they have been through a lot of stuff, but they know it doesn't matter what goes on in the outside world outside of this building, outside of this practice field. They are more about taking care of themselves. We know that the only way we are going to win a football game is we do what we need to do.

"There is no fan, now writer or anybody else that is going to control what we need to do on the field on Saturday. They have to do it, they understand that and we just have to go out and do it."

"We are going to go with Drew, Kendrick and JoJo again to start the game and hopefully to finish the game," Smith said.

Eric Hawkins is back and will play this weekend while Luke Rossi is getting more reps.

"Eric is back this week and he is taking some reps, Luke Rossi is taking more reps. I have got to get Dominique ready and Duwop (Mitchell) also. We are playing Duwop in some special situations. He got a lot of run at Z last week, but I need him to become more a part of the whole game plan actually. That;'s what we are trying to do, put things together for those guys."

Smith is spending extra time with Reed, who has the best speed on the team, but has not grasped the playbook the way coaches had hoped.

"He has still got a ways to go," Smith said. "He and I meeting extra to get him on track to where we can put him out there and feel really, really good about him. He has got so much ability, but he has got to become more consistent and that is the thing that is kind of holding him back right now - just his consistency.

"We've kind of got our backs up against the wall and the kid is responding. At least he is trying.

"It is just knowing what to do," Smith said. "That is the biggest part of it. I don't want to go out there and be hesitant and when you don't know what you are doing, it takes his biggest attribute and slows him down. He is not good to us if he doesn't know what to do."

Edwards was goimg to redshirt, but injuries nixed that.

"He is fine," Smith said. He approached us about it, which we were going to approach him. But he throught about it and it was something he wanted to do. He played very well last week and I was very happy for him. The goal this week is to put it back-to-back. Today he had a good practice."

• • • 

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen has also been spending extra time in the film room with the youngsters as well.

"I am getting in the film room with them and just trying to help them get as prepared as we can," Allen said. "We've lost a lot of guys so you try to do what you can to help the others along."

Allen notes the two losses have been hard to cope with, including his part in them.

"Just that we’re capable of so much better. Been falling short here and there. Little thing shave been holding us back. Just that our capability is so high and we can perform a lot better.

Any time you’re the quarterback of a team you’re expected to bring your team from behind. It’s no different. We need offensive plays, it’s late in the game, obvious pass situations, I’ve got to be able to make the play, step up and make better throws."

Tight end Hunter Henry, who didn't want to talk about the offensive interference that was called on him in the fourth quarter and wiped out a touchdown pass, says his team is firmly behind Allen.

" I mean, you know, he's our guy," Henry said. "We're behind him 100 percent. He comes to work every single day just like we do. We've been playing three years together, so it's - he's going to bounce back. We have faith in him and he knows that. I think he'll bounce back.

• • •

Razorback freshman tailback Rawleigh Williams lives just 20 miles from AT&T Stadium and has seen high school games there before, but never played inside the venue.

"I'm very excited about it," Williams said. "I'm going to have a lot of family and friends in the stands and I just want to come out and do well, play hard and try to help the team win."

Arkansas running back coach Jamel Singleton, who says Juan Day could possibly play as early as the game with Tennessee on Oct. 3, says Williams will get his chances on Saturday after the previous week with Alex Collins having 22 carries and Williams just eight.

"At some point," Singleton said. " I'm kind of a feel guy. I really felt Alex was in that zone. I remember my days as a player and the last thing you want to do is get pulled out of the game when you're feeling hot, you've got that hot hand. I kind of go with the feel of it. Alex was performing well and doing good things. We'll get to a point probably where we get a few more carries for Rawleigh."

He is not sure whether starting fullback Kody Walker will play this weekend or not.

" It's one of those things didn't' know if we were going to have him last week," Singleton said. "We were hoping we would and we'll see how he progresses."

Walker did a little at practice on Tuesday.

"He was out there," Singleton said. "Not a whole lot. He's got some things going on that he's still working through. I think at some point tomorrow we'll be able to figure out whether he can go."

• • • 

Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman knows his offensive line - which has not given up a sack this season - will face a big challenge in an A&M defense that has recorded 15 sacks so far this season.

"We feel like we have got some great tackles and they feel like they have some great defensive ends," Pittman said. "We'll see how it matches up. That's life in the SEC. Everybody has great players."

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