McFadden Preparing For Saturday Without Jones

FAYETTEVILLE — Darren McFadden would no doubt like to have fellow Arkansas running back Felix Jones with him in the backfield on Saturday.

But McFadden isn't expecting that to happen.

"Right now, his status is up in the air, so we're going to prepare like we're not going to have Felix," McFadden said Monday.

Jones has served as the perfect complement to McFadden over the past three seasons, giving opposing defenses another big-play tailback to have to worry about stopping.

But the junior's status for Saturday's 1 p.m. game against Mississippi State in War Memorial Stadium remains questionable because of a deep thigh bruise.

"I hope he gets well in about three weeks," MSU coach Sylvester Croom joked Monday.

Jones missed the second half of last Saturday's 34-13 loss at No. 19 Tennessee after injuring his right thigh on a kickoff return less than five minutes into the game.

The junior, who ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 103.2 yards rushing per game, finished with just three carries for three yards.

"(He's) still very sore, still getting treatment," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Monday.

There is a chance that Saturday could be Jones' final home game at Arkansas. Since he's a junior, he's eligible to leave school after this season to enter the NFL Draft and possibly be a high-round pick.

If Jones can't go against MSU, sophomore Michael Smith is expected to get more carries to help take the load off McFadden. Fellow sophomore Brandon Barnett could also be used in the backfield.

On Arkansas' latest depth chart, released Monday, Jones and Smith are listed as co-backups behind McFadden.

Smith ranks third on the Razorbacks in rushing behind McFadden (1,431) and Jones (1,032), gaining 287 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries.

"Everybody worries about Jones being out," Croom said. "(The Razorbacks) will probably have somebody faster than him come in there."

Woods Expected Back

Nutt said he's hopeful that free safety Kevin Woods will be able to return to practice today after being sidelined over the past week with a dislocated shoulder.

"We know we can't have contact (drills) with him yet, but it's just a good feeling having him out there," Nutt said.

Sophomore Rashaad Johnson started in place of Woods at free safety against Tennessee, but Johnson gave up a few big plays, including one that went for a touchdown.

Arkansas strong safety Matt Hewitt said he noticed a difference with Woods not in the lineup against the Volunteers.

"It was a huge difference. Kevin Woods, he has a lot of energy. He uplifts the defensive squad when people's heads are down," Hewitt said. "He's a great vocal leader for this team."

Johnson is still listed as the starter at free safety, with Woods as his backup.

Meanwhile, junior Elston Forte has reclaimed his starting weakside linebacker job after beginning last Saturday's loss at Tennessee on the bench.

Sophomore Wendel Davis got the start instead, but he's been moved to a backup role at middle linebacker.

No Debate

No discussion is needed when it comes to naming this year's Heisman Trophy winner, at least according to Croom.

The MSU coach believes McFadden deserves the award without a doubt.

"The idea that there's even a discussion about anybody else for the Heisman Trophy, that just totally baffles me," Croom said.

McFadden, the preseason favorite, has seen his Heisman chances go up and down throughout the course of the season. He's considered by many as one of the top candidates, but not the front-runner.

"(The Razorbacks) have the best football player in the country on their football team," Croom said. "I hope this guy wins the Heisman Trophy, but he doesn't need a great performance (against) us to get it.

"In my opinion, he's already earned it so he can take the weekend off against us."

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