AUBURN, Ala. - Running back Michael Smith and quarterback Casey Dick were the last Arkansas players off the field Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. They had their arms around each other's necks in a walking hug after the 25-22 victory over Auburn.
"I think what you saw there was two players who have been through a lot," Smith said. "He knows what I've been through the last three years, waiting my turn. Same thing for him. He's kinda been in the same shadows as me.
"I know what he's feeling and he knows what it's like for me. That's why this one was so sweet."
Thanks to some sweet line-of-scrimmage checks by his quarterback, Smith made the Tigers pay for over looking him in the recruiting process. Auburn is as close as Smith will be all season to his home in Tallahassee, Fla.
"It's about six hours and I came here for a game or two in high school, but no official visit," Smith said. "They didn't ever offer nothing."
Nothing was left in Smith's tank after a 35-carry, 176-yard rushing night. He took his usual halftime IV for fluid loss and was cramping in both legs during his 63-yard touchdown run for the winning points.
"I was feeling that 21-carry first half and I'm feeling it now," Smith said. "I knew someone was catching me and I just tried to make them miss at the end."
The play was a check at the line, something Dick did well all night to set up Smith's running.
"Our coaches saw something on the video and it was a great tip to what they were doing," center Jonathan Luigs said. "It was a great game plan.
Coach (Bobby) Petrino can really give us things that are going to work based on video study. We took that and did some great things with it tonight.
"And, it was a great night by Michael Smith. I don't know if he's got anything left. He put it all into this game. But really, we all did.
"Before his long run, I had said some things in the huddle about two plays before he busted it. I pointed at Michael, Joe Adams and London Crawford. I said, ‘How about one of you guys showing your skill and hit a home run on this drive.' Man, Michael did it.
"Me and the tackle were pulling. It was a nice hole, a big hole. Then I got there and there were two guys there. So I just threw myself into one of them. Michael popped free. Then, he makes some more miss down the field."
Smith said, "Jonathan did challenge us. I made him a promise that I'd do something and I kept my promise. Joe Adams said something, too. He told me to keep fighting."
Adams had no doubts about the fight in Smith.
"I think there have been some times people thought I was going to be the one to step up and help lead this team, but Michael is our leader," Adams said. "Everyone on this team looks to Michael. He steps up every time.
"You could see this coming all week. Coaches tell us that if you practice great, you play great. Michael had a GREAT week of practice. He played just like it."
Adams had some plays, too. He took a double reverse handoff and passed to Dick for a touchdown. But his most amazing contribution might have been a burst to save a touchdown return after one of Dick's interceptions.
"That interception was my fault," Adams said. "I was supposed to make an outside release, so it me. He threw it where I should have been. That's why I had to catch him. Luckily, they only got three on that one.
"Casey had a nice game. He made some nice checks with some new little stuff we had for this game. Those guys, Casey and Michael, really did good."
Adams caught four passes for 60 yards, some of them off of his back hip on crossing patterns.
"Get ‘em close, I have to catch ‘em," he said. "I like to think every inch of my body can be used to make a catch. That's what the coaches tell us."
Smith used every inch of his body, too. There were times the Tigers pounded on the little man. In the end, they were in awe.
"He is a great back," Auburn defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "He may be smaller, but they all do the same thing -- they run the ball. He hit all the holes. He hit them when they were big. He hit them when they were little."
There were no holes in the Arkansas defense, something that coordinator Willy Robinson was beaming about afterwards. He cited end Adrian Davis and the entire front for pressure on the different Auburn quarterbacks.
"We didn't have to blitz to get pressure," Robinson said. "Adrian got there and so did others. The thing is, we decided early in the week that patience was going to be the key. Stay patient with our front four pressure and cover. We didn't think their quarterbacks could wait. And, it turned out that way. We stayed in our lanes and stayed patient.
"We just kept it simple and cut back on the plan and covered. We gave up a couple of plays in the passing game, but we didn't give up anything in the run game. No long runs, no real gaps, no gashes. That was the difference. We cut out the long runs."
The last snap for the defense was an interception by Matt Harris on an overthrow down the middle.
"I saw it and knew it was going to be a little low and just had to get under it," Harris said. "I haven't ever closed out a game like that, never. Not in peewee ball, not in high school. It was the biggest play I've ever made.
"I was just worried that I might squeeze it so hard that it would pop out. It was a nice feeling to know we had it, we were going to win at that point.
"We enjoyed this one. We all did something to help -- offense and defense. Our coaches did a great job of keeping us up and we did some things right tonight. We still can play better than this."
Smith Burns Auburn
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