Razorbacks Won't Take Eagles Lightly

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' schedule, deemed one of the nation's toughest in the preseason, has lived up to expectations.

The Razorbacks have played four teams that were undefeated (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn and Florida). They have gone head-to-head with four ranked opponents. And four of their first seven games were played outside the state of Arkansas.

So Saturday's game will offer a drastic change of pace: Homecoming against Eastern Michigan, which is winless and sitting at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference. But Arkansas safety Matt Harris said it remains a challenging week.

"An 0-7 Eastern Michigan is going to be a game that you're going to have to fight the urge to take lightly," Harris said.

Arkansas will step out of Southeastern Conference play and try to snap a two-game losing skid against the Eagles.

On paper, it shouldn't be a difficult task. Eastern Michigan, led by first-year coach Ron English, is nowhere near the level of opponent the Razorbacks have faced in 2009.

The Eagles are 119th in the nation in total offense (265.3 yards a game) and 114th in scoring (15.4 points). They have struggled since losing quarterback Andy Schmidt to a torn anterior cruciate ligament at Michigan on Sept. 19.

Eastern Michigan hasn't been any better on the other side of the ball, though. It is 90th in total defense (399.4 yards a game) and 110th in scoring (33.7 points). The Eagles also are last in the nation in rushing yards allowed a game (275).

But Arkansas receiver Lucas Miller said none of those numbers matter. The senior even called Eastern Michigan a "trap game."

"We can't take this game lightly," Miller said. "You can't take any game on our schedule lightly. We're going to approach it in practice this week the same we approach any team. It doesn't matter their record. We're not thinking about records."

Instead, Miller said Arkansas will concentrate on fixing its flaws.

The Razorbacks struggled in all three phases during the 30-17 loss at Ole Miss on Saturday. The offense managed just 299 yards, while the defense gave up a season-high 553. The Rebels controlled Arkansas at the line of scrimmage and made more big plays.

So while Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he can feel for Eastern Michigan and English, he added the Razorbacks "have enough problems to deal with."

On the field, Eastern Michigan may not be the season's most daunting or exciting foe. But running back Michael Smith said Arkansas is determined to take Saturday's game seriously.

"It's not so much Eastern Michigan," Smith said. "It's that the confidence will come from when we execute and we continue to execute through all four quarters. ... If we do that, then we know that we're clicking and we're hitting on all cylinders like we're supposed to be. I think that that is what will give us the confidence boost going into the rest of the season."

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