Joe Adams may have suffered a stroke early in October. But whatever happened to the sophomore wide receiver didn't do anything to his amazing speed and quickness.
Paul Petrino didn't know if he would have Joe Adams for this week's game as he watched him practice Tuesday. He only knew he was the fastest player on the field.
Adams got medical clearance on Wednesday after missing three games. To no one's surprise, Adams was still the fastest player on the field in Arkansas' 63-27 victory over Eastern Michigan.
"Joe looked fresh and he looked fast," said Petrino, Arkansas offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach. "It was great to have him back. He's a real good football player."
Adams didn't play a lot against EMU's Eagles -- only two plays after halftime -- but when the Hogs went to him, he was all by himself. He caught three passes for 109 yards. He had touchdown catches of 78 and 10 yards, but the play that might stand out was his first catch. He caught a 21-yarder that included heavy contact and a face mask penalty.
"You want to get that first contact out of the way," he said. "I knew I was going to take a hit on that play and it was good just to get it out of the way."
Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino wasted little time talking about Adams' return.
"He's a special player," he said. "I can't say enough about him. He was fast and fresh. It has been hard on him not being out there and he has been great with his attitude and been very alert. Our training staff did a great job.
"He had two big touchdown catches. He's one of our best players, a big-play guy.
"It was hard on him not playing. You could see it in his eyes. He took the two losses hard, knowing he could have helped his team. He's a great competitor."
Adams said the obvious.
"I feel blessed," he said. "Everybody loves playing.
"It changed my outlook on life period. I appreciate life period."
What was it like when doctors told him he could play again?
"That was like a burden lifted off my chest," he said. "I knew I'd come out and have a great game."
Quarterback Ryan Mallett knew what he'd get from Adams, too.
"He's a special player," Mallett said. "I have confidence in all of our receivers, but Joe is a dynamic player. No one can cover him one-on-one. You knew he was going to be open. On the long one, I was just trying not to miss him. It was a double move and he beat the safety. I just wanted to make sure and get it to him."
The return of Adams stole some of the thunder from Broderick Green. He's the big back who had so much trouble putting the ball in the end zone earlier this year from the 1-yard line. He erased so much of that frustration from the other 1-yard line. He had called his 99 yard run on the sideline before the offense went on the field.
"I told coach (Petrino) I was going 99," he said. "I told everyone and I did. Every day in practice, we practice from the 1-yard line.
"The fullback blocked his man to the outside, and I cut inside. There was a ref in the way, but I knew he'd jump away. I just wanted it from there. There was a man coming up on me down field and I waited for him, gave him a little move and then used my speed again."
Green thinks his play has improved as the season has progressed.
"I struggled early this year," he said. "I didn't do well on the goal line. I didn't understand the line blocking. The coaches helped me and I've gotten way better."
Mallett cheered him through the hole, then turned his back on the big runner.
"I watched him get started, then I turned around to see him on the big screen," Mallett said. "I wanted him to score, but as he was going down the field it hit me that I was going to have to run down there and congratulate him. I got tired doing that. It was a long way."
Mallett had a big night. He completed his first 11 passes. His only lapse came early in the third quarter when Petrino thought his signal caller gave in to the rush twice.
"Ryan did a nice job, but I didn't like the way he started the second half," Petrino said. "He didn't stand in there against the rush. He drifted away, something we worked on all week."
The defense had a strong first half, but there was some drift there, too.
"We scored on defense and we got off the field on third down for the most part," said Willy Robinson, defensive coordinator. "We still gave up the big play. You can't do that. There were a lot of positives, but we gave up the deep ball."
The Hogs went with true freshman cornerbacks David Gordon and Darius Winston for long stretches.
"Those guys did well in the first half, pretty good actually," Robinson said. "Not so well in the second half."
The Hogs went with a simplified scheme to help the youngsters. Instead of their usual boundary/field system, Robinson said, "Because of the depth issues there, we just played right and left corner."
Anthony Leon got a lot of snaps at free safety after a strong week of practice.
"He would have seen even more action tonight except he tweaked his ankle,"Robinson said. "He's getting better."
Effort was the word of the week for the defense.
"That's what determined the starters, effort in practice," Robinson said. "We graded every practice. The ones who started were the ones who gave effort in practice and graded the best. We will do that the rest of the year, every day. It's not a given who will start."
That's fine with middle linebacker Wendel Davis.
"We know that's how it's going to be and we all accept that," Davis said. "It was a little bit of a (lineup) shakeup this week. Personally, it's no big deal. We know all of us are going to play and the ones who give the best effort are going to get the most effort. It's always good to have competition."
And, it's always good to have a Joe Adams back on the field.
"Big time," Davis said. "That's what I call Joe. He's big time as a playmaker. He is a guy who makes you say woooo! What he did tonight doesn't surprise me. Nothing he does surprises me. He's a big-time excitement guy."
Hogs Glad to Get Adams Back
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