Receivers Catching On

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's message to receivers with regard to dropped passes is a little different than his predecessor, Houston Nutt.

If the ball hits the ground, it's no big deal.

That philosophy was on display during the 28-24 win against Western Illinois. Several Arkansas receivers dropped passes during the sloppy game. But after each mistake, the ball was thrown back in that receiver's direction.

"We have to show them we have confidence in them," Petrino said. "Then they'll build it when they continue to make plays."

The best example came in the fourth quarter when freshman Greg Childs dropped a pass on a curl route. The Razorbacks went right back to Childs the next two plays.

He hauled in a 5-yard catch on third-and-four to keep an important drive alive. Then Childs finished the drive on the next play with a 26-yard touchdown catch, which helped the Razorbacks trim Western Illinois' lead to 24-21.

"It's always good, if I happen to drop a pass, and the coach calls a play right back to me," Childs said. "It shows me that he has faith in me to make the play."

Nutt rarely called the same receiver's number after that player dropped a pass during his 10-year stint at Arkansas. The Razorbacks' run-oriented offense couldn't afford the mistakes.

But Petrino said the reasoning is simple: He doesn't want to turn dropped passes into a big deal because the Razorbacks are counting on their receivers to make plays.

"The more attempts they get, the more times you throw the ball, the more you can minimize the drops," he said. "If you're only getting the ball thrown to you once or twice a game and you drop one, then it becomes something that is a big deal."

Smith To Start

Petrino said Arkansas will have running back Michael Smith in its starting lineup for the Louisiana-Monroe game.

The junior was suspended for the opener because of the improper use of scholarship textbooks. Freshmen Dennis Johnson and De'Anthony Curtis carried the load in Smith's absence Saturday, but Petrino said they were a "little overwhelmed" with all their responsibilities.

Arkansas was limited to 76 rushing yards and its longest gain on the ground was quarterback Casey Dick's 23-yard touchdown run. In addition, the running backs were responsible for missed blocks on a couple of plays that led to WIU sacks.

"We missed him a lot in the running game," Petrino said.

Personnel Update

In addition to Smith, linebacker Walner Leandre and guard Mitch Petrus were held out of Saturday's game.

Arkansas' explanation of Petrus' absence has been vague. The school said the junior couldn't play because of an "issue" that had nothing to do with NCAA violations. Petrus will be able to practice with the Razorbacks until the issue is resolved.

"There's nothing new," Petrino said of Petrus' status Sunday. "It's over the weekend right now with Petrus."

Leandre was held out for undisclosed reasons. The senior spent most of the preseason with the first-team defense at Jack linebacker, but stood on the sidelines Saturday while freshman Jerico Nelson started in his place.

"Walner was just a case where he was being held out this game," Petrino said. "He's got to come back and compete and see where we're at by the middle or the end of the week."

Crawford Questionable

Crawford's status for the Louisiana-Monroe game is uncertain after the receiver sustained a concussion.

Crawford, who caught two passes for 17 yards, was injured on a kickoff return in the second half. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but was released late Saturday night.

"Right now it's how fast can you come back from the concussion? That's the big thing." Petrino said. "We've got to see how he recovers from that. Some guys can recover right away. Sometimes it takes a little time."

Kickoff Change?

Arkansas will consider a change on its kickoff return team after safety Elton Ford struggled Saturday. The freshman, who also was Arkansas' starter at free safety, fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff.

"I liked Elton in the preseason," Petrino said. "Sometimes that's the hardest thing to evaluate is how your kickoff returners and punt returners do because going against the scout team live look is just not the same.

"He certainly has the ability. The thing I kind of felt like is, we're asking him to do a lot. Maybe we can limit what we ask him to do and he'll play better at safety."

In addition, Petrino said the Razorbacks weren't happy with their kickoffs. Punter Jeremy Davis handled the duties Saturday, but botched a couple of his attempts.

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