Smith Improving

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino doesn't know if running back Michael Smith is going to be cleared to practice when the Razorbacks return to the field today.

But Petrino did say he's "optimistic" the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, who left Arkansas' 21-20 loss to Kentucky with a concussion, will be ready to play in Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

"Michael is doing better," Petrino said. "He improved Saturday night, he improved (Sunday) and he's better (Monday). It still will be a situation where it's day-to-day whether he'll practice or not. They'll re-evaluate in the morning, take some tests and see how he does."

Smith rushed for a career-high 192 yards on 35 carries against the Wildcats. It's part of a busy, two-game stretch in which the junior has carried the ball 70 times for 368 yards, caught five passes for 79 more and handled punt return duties for the Razorbacks.

He was injured on a goal line play in the third quarter when Petrino said the Razorbacks missed a block. But center Jonathan Luigs said Smith is "chomping at the bit" to get back on the field Saturday.

"I saw him (Sunday)," Luigs said. "I asked him how he's feeling. He said he was good. He wants to play this week and is excited and wants to get back out there."

Without him, Arkansas' offense struggled and it ended up costing them the game in the fourth quarter.

Even if Smith does play Saturday, Petrino said Arkansas must find other playmakers. Smith touched the ball on 38 of the Razorbacks' 67 offensive plays before leaving the game with the concussion. He accounted for 225 of their 330 total plays.

"We have to get someone besides Michael Smith involved and comfortable making plays and comfortable calling plays for them," Petrino said.



Reality Check

Arkansas' confidence was soaring after the win at Auburn, but defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said it has taken a hit after the collapse at Kentucky.

"With three minutes left in the game, we're getting ready to prepare for a celebration in the locker room and two minutes later we're behind," Sheppard said. "It's a devastating feeling for everybody."

Bouncing back from it will be a challenge for all of the Razorbacks this week. Petrino said he hasn't gotten much sleep the past two days thinking about plays that could've changed the outcome. He said the "air is out" of his team a little bit after the loss, but is hoping to help Arkansas regain their swagger this week.

"We need to really do a good job this week of being fresh physically and fresh mentally," Petrino said.

Petrino is planning to cut back on the workload in practice this week in hopes of helping the Hogs in both regards. He said bouncing back from the tough loss will be a challenge, but believes its next opponent will help.

Luigs said the Razorbacks will learn plenty about each other in the way they respond to the Kentucky loss.

"We'll see what kind of integrity, what kind of character this team has," he said. "I guess we'll find out at practice how we were able to bounce back from it."



Another Look

Petrino took a closer look at the illegal formation and shift penalties that were called on the Razorbacks. He said the last flag in the fourth quarter was "disturbing."

"We're in an unbalanced set, the receiver is aligned on the ball and they threw a flag and said we didn't have enough guys on the line of scrimmage," Petrino said. "That was a bad call."

Petrino indicated Arkansas let the SEC know about the questionable call. It's something they do regularly.

"A lot of times they agree and say, ‘Yeah, we missed that one.' Sometimes they disagree with you," Petrino said. "But there's really no recourse."



Mitchell a Possibility

Defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell wasn't available to play against Kentucky despite some limited work in practice last week. But Petrino is hoping the senior can be available for Saturday's game against Ole Miss.

Mitchell underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee on Oct. 1 and was originally expected to miss four to six weeks. He practiced for the first time since the injury last week, but Petrino said he was held out after experiencing some swelling.

"Ernest has a chance to play this week," Petrino said. "We'll just have to wait and see. He got into a position last week where he did all individual towards the end of (last) week, did a little bit in one of the days in some group work. But it did swell on him one day.

"So we'll have to see how it plays out."



TV News

The Arkansas-Tulsa game on Nov. 1 was not selected for broadcast by any of the SEC's television partners.

There is a chance the game could be shown via pay-per-view, but arrangements have not yet been set.

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