Brown Wants Back On Field

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas linebacker Pierre Brown will never know how much he might've helped, but the senior struggled to watch top-ranked Southern California sprint up and down the Los Angeles Coliseum turf in a 70-17 win last Saturday.

Brown, who sustained a sprained right knee against Vanderbilt, watched from the sidelines wearing his jersey, warm-up pants and tennis shoes as Arkansas surrendered the second-most points and most yards in school history.

"I'm a senior. I'm a captain," Brown said. "So it's tough to see your guys out there fighting and there's nothing you can do about it."

He's hoping that will change when Arkansas tries to glue the pieces of its shattered defense back together in time to play at No. 20 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. It's a critical outing for a unit annihilated on the West Coast. It's also the last chance for Brown, a Birmingham, Ala., native, to play in his home state.

But Brown said the Alabama ties are the furthest thoughts from his mind.

"I only have eight more opportunities to go out there and play," Brown said. "I just want to get back for the next game. If we are playing Alabama, if we are playing anyone, it wouldn't matter. I want to try and get back."

Brown is planning to rejoin teammates on the practice field today, when the Hogs resume workouts after taking Sunday and Monday off. Arkansas didn't get home until Sunday morning at 7, so coach Houston Nutt canceled the scheduled practice, met with his team and encouraged them to get past the USC lost.

"I just think the biggest cord we struck was, we've been in this situation before," Nutt said about his discussion with the Hogs. "The bottom line is, there's still a lot of football left."

Brown, as a captain, said it's his job to help teammates understand that this week.

"My biggest role is to make sure everybody keeps their head up, keep their spirits up," Brown said. "We have no reason to hang our heads. We played against a great team. It showed why they are the national champions.

"The biggest thing is to make sure we put the game behind us, make sure we're prepared for the opponent next week."

Nutt said the Razorbacks are hoping Brown will be "close to full speed, if not full speed" in time for the Tide. True freshman Freddie Fairchild worked in Brown's place on Saturday, but was put, Nutt said, in an "awfully tough" situation.

Brown, who said Monday he's feeling a lot better, hopes to take some of the pressure off Fairchild by stepping back on the field. He already watched film of the Crimson Tide offense and plans to test the knee in practice today.

"I always want to be out there," Brown said. "I want to be out there every snap. Even if I was out there (Saturday), the outcome of the game, win or lose might not have been different. But I feel like it would've been closer and more competitive.

"I feel bad having to have a freshman go out there and get baptized by fire. It was pretty tough for him. I wish I could've been out there every moment of the game."

RoJo Update
Nutt said Sunday he hoped quarterback Robert Johnson could practice this week after sustaining a bruised back and mild concussion against the Trojans. But Nutt felt better about Johnson's status Monday and now expects him on the field today.

Johnson left Saturday's game in the second quarter after completing 8 of 16 passes for 91 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. It was his first career road start and, besides the injuries, Nutt said he was impressed with the outing.

Johnson has completed 37 of 66 passes (56.1 percent) for 383 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in three games.

"I thought he had it in him this spring," Nutt said. "But it has surprised me how quick he's really come on. He's really come of age."

Stats and Stuff
It's really no surprise, but the USC disaster dropped Arkansas near the bottom of the barrel of most Southeastern Conference and national defensive statistics.

The Hogs are last in the SEC and 108th in the nation in scoring defense (38.3 points a game), 11th and 103rd in pass defense (294.3 yards), 11th and 111th in total defense (494) and 10th and 95th in rushing defense (199.7).

On a more positive note, junior linebacker Sam Olajubutu leads the SEC in tackles (10.3 a game) after his 14-tackle effort against the Trojans.

"He brings that blue collar shirt every day, buckles up both chin straps," Nutt said about Olajubutu. "That's one guy you can count on. He's going to be there.

"He's sideline to sideline and he makes a lot of plays for us."

Look Out
As if USC running back Reggie Bush wasn't enough, the Hogs will have their hands full with another talented tailback Saturday.

Crimson Tide senior Kenneth Darby was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his efforts in the 37-14 win at South Carolina.

Darby rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Gamecocks and has 59 carries, 314 yards and 1 touchdown in three games. Darby is the SEC's second-leading rusher (104.7 yards a game), behind LSU tailback Joseph Addai (109).

Darby was part of an Alabama backfield that rushed for more than 200 yards against the Hogs last season. Darby had 53 yards while teammate Ray Hudson piled up 170, including a 63-yard touchdown, in Alabama's 27-10 loss.

Back in the League
Alabama coach Mike Shula had a flashback, of sorts, when he watched USC trounce Arkansas on Saturday. The third-year Crimson Tide coach said quarterback Matt Leinart, running back Reggie Bush and company resembled an NFL team.

Shula should know. He spent 15 years as an assistant in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears.

"USC looks like a pro team," Shula said. "That's the thing. And then there's everybody else that's playing. But we know what kind of talent Arkansas has.

"They have size, they have speed, they have quickness."

Extra Points
Nutt said right guard Zac Tubbs is hobbling on two sore ankles, but could start Saturday's game in place of Jonathan Luigs (ankle). Nutt said backups Tyler Morgan and Chase Pressley are his next options at right guard. ... Tailback Felix Jones is second in the SEC in all-purpose yards (152.7 a game), second in kickoff returns (33.4 a return) and seventh in rushing (67.3 a game). ... Freshman tailback Darren McFadden, junior linebacker Sam Olajubutu and freshman kick returner Felix Jones were each named Hogwired.com players of the week for their efforts against Southern California.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories