Botkin Facing Familiar Foe

FAYETTEVILLE — Kirk Botkin knows what it feels like to upset a Southeastern Conference team.

The Arkansas defensive ends coach was on Louisiana-Monroe's coaching staff in 2007 when the Warhawks pulled off a stunning, 21-14 win at Alabama.

Botkin said it was an incredible experience. But now that he's back at his alma mater, Botkin is doing his best to make sure ULM doesn't duplicate the feeling when it plays Arkansas in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

"I wish all those guys the best of luck," Botkin said Wednesday. "But we want to win, definitely."

Botkin worked for coach Charlie Weatherbie for two seasons, serving as ULM's linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. He jumped at the chance to return to Arkansas when new coach Bobby Petrino offered him a position last winter. Botkin didn't even think about facing friends this season when he left.

"I was just excited to come back to my alma mater and coach in the SEC," Botkin said.

Petrino said having Botkin on his staff does give the Razorbacks an edge as they prepare for the Warhawks.

The Razorbacks have leaned on Botkin's knowledge this week. He has filled in the staff on the strengths and weaknesses of ULM's returning players. He also has helped identify some of the team's tendencies.

"He's familiar with what they do offensively, going against them all the time," Petrino said. "It's certainly an advantage that he knows their players well."

Botkin said the Razorbacks respect ULM and the challenge they'll present Saturday. He said the Warhawks have plenty of talent, pointing out linebacker James Truxillo, and safeties Josh Thompson and Greg James.

"Coach Weatherbie has done a good job there recruiting and getting those guys playing hard," Botkin said. "I still know a bunch of those guys and a bunch of the coaches. It's a good place."

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