Better To Be Battle Tested Or Well Rested?

FAYETTEVILLE — Is it better for a football team to be battle tested or well rested? For Arkansas and No. 23 Georgia, the past two weeks couldn't have been more different.

While the Razorbacks are anxious to get back on the field following their only open date on the schedule, the Bulldogs could probably use a few days off to recuperate from a rough start to the season.

One team is refreshed while the other is banged up. One team is unproven while the other has a better idea about itself. Which is better? That question will be answered when Arkansas (1-0) hosts Georgia (1-1, 1-0 SEC) at 6:45 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"There's pros and cons to (being) battle tested. Their guys might be more ready on the game field, but they might be a little more banged up than we are," Arkansas free safety Matt Harris said. "Right now, we're fresh and we're feeling good. Our guys are healthy and ready to go."

The Razorbacks haven't played a game since cruising to a 48-10 win over Missouri State on Sept. 5, and even then things got so lopsided that quarterback Ryan Mallett sat out the fourth quarter.

While Arkansas' players had last Saturday off to relax and watch football, Georgia tried to move past a 24-10 loss to then-No. 9 Oklahoma State in its season opener.

But rather than beating up on an easy opponent, the Bulldogs endured a nearly four-hour shootout with South Carolina that came down to the final seconds. They won 41-37, but lost starting defensive end Rod Battle to a season-ending knee injury in the process.

Georgia has had two games to break in new starting quarterback Joe Cox into the offense. Arkansas, on other hand, has had to wait to see progress from Week 1 to Week 2.

"You don't really sustain the momentum (after a bye). We tried to build on it," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "... We built on the positives, we corrected the negatives and then what you do is you go right back to work.

"There won't be any problem with our players being emotionally ready for this game."

The Razorbacks will take the field this afternoon for their first full practice in five days, and there's a sense that players are ready to face the Bulldogs after having last weekend off.

"You get anxious," Mallett said. "It's being able to get out there Saturday and release that energy, (that) is going to be what we need right now."

To prepare themselves for the grind of playing 11 consecutive games after an open date, the Razorbacks changed up their offseason workout program. They also lifted weights four times last week.

As a result, Petrino said his team is in "as good of shape as we've been" in, despite having not played a game in nearly two weeks.

"Everybody has been ready for this game. We got the first game behind us and we had a week off to prepare," Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams said. "That week is behind us now, so now we've got the rest of this week to just prepare and get better."

And soon get battle tested.

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