Smith: Things Will Get Better

FAYETTEVILLE — When Arkansas running back Michael Smith landed awkwardly on Georgia's sideline Saturday, the senior felt the sharp pain in his shoulder.

Then, he felt the frustration.

"I was like, ‘You've got to be kidding me,'" Smith said.

After being limited to four carries in the opener against Missouri State, Smith was ready to run against Georgia. But his plans changed on the game's first play, when a bruised shoulder kept Smith sidelined for most of the first half.

Smith eventually returned, but finished with just eight carries for 59 yards. He now has only 12 carries for 102 yards in the first two games. The production isn't what Smith expected after rushing for 1,072 yards in 2008.

"I don't want to say I'm a victim of circumstances, because I'm not. But I mean, those are just the cards that have been dealt so far," Smith said. "I know that things will turn around, things will change. It will get better."

Arkansas is hoping it will happen at No. 3 Alabama on Saturday afternoon. The Razorbacks need Smith. Arkansas averaged 44.5 points and 538 yards without him, but the run game has lagged. The Razorbacks are averaging 110.5 rushing yards, which ranks last in the SEC and 91st in the nation.

"Michael is a big part of the offense and we haven't been able to establish him, yet," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said.

Smith left the Georgia game after catching an 18-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Mallett. He knew something was wrong with his shoulder when he hit the turf. Smith hurried to Arkansas' sideline and was examined in the locker room.

Smith was diagnosed with a bruised shoulder and cleared to return to the game. Arkansas is keeping an eye on him in practice, but Smith said he participated Tuesday. He said the sore shoulder won't keep him sidelined Saturday.

"He's ready to come out and show what he did last year," Mallett said. "He's ready. He's going to be fine."

Smith said he was disappointed he couldn't produce more to open the season, but isn't concerned. He said it wasn't too long ago he wasn't getting any carries, buried behind Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on Arkansas' depth chart.

"I know the time will come for me to start running the ball. I know it will come soon," Smith said. "So I'm not going to sit back and cry about it. I'm not worried about it at all."

Player Profile

Michael Smith

Height: 5-foot-9.

Weight: 180 pounds.

Position: Tailback/punt returner.

Class: Senior.

Hometown: Tallahassee, Fla.

Notable: Second-team All-Southeastern Conference pick last season, after rushing for 1,072 yards on 207 carries. ... Named to All-SEC preseason first team this year.

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