Last Saturday's 31-28 loss at MSU was perhaps the low point for the Razorbacks, who missed too many tackles while giving up 226 yards rushing and 445 yards of total offense to the lowly Bulldogs.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino described the loss as perhaps the team's "worst game tackling." And defensive coordinator Willy Robinson wasn't pleased with the effort he saw from his players, either.
"Our tackling ability the last two weeks is what we're quite ashamed of," Robinson said following Tuesday's practice. "The thing about it is, you've got to want to tackle. It goes back to courage and being physical."
Petrino admitted it's frustrating that his defensive players are still having trouble tackling heading into Friday's season finale against LSU.
"A lot of the times, we're missing tackles because we were lunging and leaving our feet," Petrino said. "We have to tackle high and run through the tackles."
Since taking over as Arkansas' starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Nathan Dick has shown that he has confidence in throwing to wide receiver Lucas Miller.
Miller has quickly emerged as Dick's favorite target. That became even more apparent in last week's loss at MSU, when the junior caught 10 passes for a career-high 201 yards — including an 87-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
"In practice, there are a lot of plays that coach (Petrino) calls where against a lot of coverages I'm going to be open," said Miller, a Greenwood graduate. "And I think (Dick) expects me now to be open, so obviously he's going to look for me first."
Miller's 201 receiving yards ranks second in school history, and the junior is the only Southeastern Conference receiver this season to catch for more than 200 yards in a single game.
Miller said he was too focused on the game to realize how many yards he had gained against the Bulldogs. Of course, his career performance should cause LSU's secondary to pay more attention to him.
"They might, you never know," Dick said. "And if they do, we've got other great receivers we can go to and do the same thing."
Running Back Trio
With running back Michael Smith (hamstring injury) doubtful for Friday's game, junior Brandon Barnett and freshmen Dennis Johnson and De'Anthony Curtis have gotten more reps in practice over the past two days.
"Michael is down right now, so each one of the running backs has to step up right now and get the job done," said Barnett, who's the only Arkansas tailback other than Smith with a rushing touchdown this season.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said Johnson got more work than the other two tailbacks during Monday night's practice. The coaches are expected to name a starter later in the week, but all three of them could see playing time against the Tigers.
"The three of them are going to have to kind of do it by committee and do a good job," Petrino said.
Short Week, No Problem
The Petrino brothers knows how to prepare for a football game that isn't played on a Saturday.
In fact, it was common during their time coaching at Louisville for the Cardinals to play a nationally televised game on Thursday night. So getting ready for Friday's game against LSU shouldn't be a big deal.
They're used to weekday games by now.
"We had a lot of ‘em, so a lot of times we were (playing) Thursday and then Wednesday or a Friday and then Thursday. So this is kind of a week that we're used to doing," Paul Petrino said. "Sometimes it's kind of nice. You get right back in the saddle and get going again."
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