Friday Cotton Bowl Update, 12/28

Michael Smith had a slip-up earlier this season, but he's been part of the package of late. The tiny tailback is ready to help where needed in the Cotton Bowl.

Michael Smith shrugged his shoulders when someone mentioned the adversity he went through earlier this season, losing a fumble just before halftime against Kentucky to hurt Arkansas in an SEC lost.

"You have to comeback from that kind of stuff," he said as the Hogs prepared for the Cotton Bowl on Friday. "You don't, they move on without you."

Smith was ready when he got his second chance, late in the season when Felix Jones was sidelined with a bruised thigh. He was a factor in the victories over Mississippi State and LSU. Smith is ready to help in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri.

"I think things are going good for me right now," he said. "I feel good. I'm in certain packages. I just have to perform when I get the chance.

"I was down for a bit earlier this year and maybe some people forgot about me, but my family didn't. I got good support from home and I had some help from my pastor here, too.

"I know sometimes things happen and you get replaced and people move on. But I've been taught you don't get replaced until you replace yourself. I don't know if that makes sense, but what it means is that the only person who can replace you is yourself. I never replaced myself. I kept working, kept trying to get back to helping this team."

Smith said he got great support from the tailback leaders on this team, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

"They are just great guys, great people," Smith said. "They gave me leadership. They were great to me at practice and in the meeting rooms. Our backfield coach, Tim Horton, gave me great support, too."

The focus right now is on the Cotton Bowl and a formidable opponent. But Smith knows he's also trying out for new coaches, too.

"I'd be not telling the truth if I didn't say I was trying to prove myself to the new staff," Smith said. "You know our new head coach, Bobby Petrino, is watching us. You want to give him something to remember.

"I know it's good to get a fresh slate and he said it's going to be like you are coming in as a freshman when we start spring football, but you know he's watching and forming thoughts right now. I expect that Darren and Felix will both move on to the NFL and that is opening up some opportunities. I want to do something in this game to get a head start on that chance.

"We know there are going to be a lot of carries opening up with Darren and Felix leaving. I hope that it's my turn. I've worked hard to get back in position to get some carries. I want to be ready if I get some chances in this game."

Practice Notes Darren McFadden practiced Friday, and school officials said they are still looking into the matter over reports from KARK-TV in Little Rock that he had a new car in Dallas that was furnished by an agent.

However, KARK now has offered an on-line apology saying the report was wrong.

Alex Abrams of the Morning News talked with Darren's father over the ownership of the car. Mr. McFadden said the car is owned by Ella McFadden, Darren's stepmother. She gained ownership of the new Escalade recently after a settlement concerning a car she owned which was totaled in a wreck. Ella McFadden let Darren drive it over the Christmas holidays and for the trip to Dallas. Interestingly, Darren still has only one car, the Crowne Victoria that he put 26-inch wheels on last spring.

Arkansas practiced for about 90 minutes Friday at SMU. Marcus Monk practiced for the second straight day, the first time he's done that in bowl preparations. Robert Johnson was less than full speed. Marcus Harrison, out with pink eye Thursday, returned to workouts. Fred Bledsoe replaced him on the sick list, also out with pink eye.

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