Howard Expects Texas' Attention

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas tailback De'Arrius Howard is a popular figure in Texas this week.

Pictures of the junior celebrating last season's 38-28 win against Texas in Austin have been published in newspapers and on the Internet. He is remembered as the Hog that partied in the stands with Arkansas fans and flashed upside down, "Hook 'Em Horns" signs. He also is pegged as the culprit who planted the Arkansas state flag in the north end zone turf at Darrell Royal Memorial Stadium.

So Howard knows he might be well-known among Texas players Saturday night.

"I really think they'll remember my number," Howard said. "But I'm not worried."

Howard jumped into the spotlight earlier this week after Texas wide receiver Tony Jeffery called last season's wild celebration "disrespectful." The Longhorns that lingered on the field remembered Razorbacks digging up pieces of turf, flashing "Hook 'Em Horns" signs as they posed for pictures and running around with the flag.

But Howard said Wednesday he wasn't rubbing the loss in Texas' nose.

"I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to them at all," Howard said. "I was just going up there to celebrate with our fans. We had a small number of fans back in our corner (of the stadium) and they came all the way down (from Arkansas).

"Why not celebrate with them?"

Howard has placed the win in the past and said the only thing he's thinking about is improving on a sophomore season in which he averaged only 2.8 yards a carry. The West Memphis native carried 20 times for 35 yards and a touchdown against the Longhorns, but is hoping to have a better outing this weekend.

Fellow tailback DeCori Birmingham isn't worried about his teammate and came to Howard's defense Wednesday. Birmingham doesn't know how the Longhorns view Howard, but said dwelling on the post-game celebration would be a big mistake.

"To me personally, if that's what it takes for them to be motivated then they're not ready to play this game," Birmingham said. "You've got to be self motivated and team motivated. We're motivated. We're ready to play because we want to win the game and go 2-0. But we're not hyped up over no pictures."

Dangerous Guy

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt believes Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson is one of the best defensive players he has ever seen.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Johnson was a consensus All-American selection and Butkus Award finalist last season, but returned to Texas for his senior season. He got off to a dominant start last Saturday, leading Texas with nine tackles and three forced fumbles in the 65-0 win against North Texas.

"He's so fast, a lot like (former Arkansas linebacker) Caleb Miller, maybe a step faster," Nutt said. "He beats you to the point of attack.

"He puts his helmet on the ball. He's really a dangerous tackler. He forced three fumbles (against North Texas) but actually the ball came loose about six times when he made contact. He's a dangerous guy and plays with a lot of intensity."

Incredibly, eight of the 10 turnovers Johnson has forced the past two seasons have resulted in defensive touchdowns or set up touchdown drives. Johnson said he's doing his part to help Texas become a "very violent defense" his season.

"By doing that, it's going to help our offense and get them back the ball as far as getting turnovers," he said.

Injury update

Injured tight end Jared Hicks practiced in shoulder pads and shorts Wednesday, but was very limited because of a sprained right shoulder. Nutt said the junior will continue to rehab during the week and will be a game-time decision Saturday.

"He came out here for a little while and did the best he could," Nutt said. "It's always tough when you don't practice during the week when you can't practice full speed."

Nutt said redshirt freshman Payne Hall will start if Hicks is hurting and redshirt freshman Mason Templeton will get plenty of playing time. In addition, true freshman Marc Winston earned more reps Wednesday and Nutt said he'll play against the Longhorns.

In other injury news, offensive line coach Mike Markuson said center Skye Peterson won't be available for Saturday's game because of a broken bone in his left hand. Peterson missed the opener and sophomore Tyler Morgan and true freshman Jonathan Luigs have worked in his place the past three weeks.

Extra points

Arkansas has sold more tickets for the Texas game than any other in school history and less than 300 East Indoor Club seats remain for $150 apiece. In addition, next week's Louisiana-Monroe game in Little Rock sold out Wednesday, joining the Nov. 26 LSU game in War Memorial Stadium. ... Backup quarterback Robert Johnson handled some scout-team work Wednesday, giving the defense a look at Texas quarterback Vincent Young ... Golfer John Daly, Johnny Lee and Billy Pearson will perform at The Powerhouse restaurant on Friday night as part of the Razorbacks Golf Alumni weekend. Tickets are $25 and doors open at 7 p.m.

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