"They have a front four which could play anywhere in the SEC," Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett said after practice Tuesday. "They have a quarterback and an offense that can score. We know what they can do and we better be ready for a shootout."
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said the Hogs had a good practice Tuesday. There was intensity and energy in most of the segments, but he realizes they'll need a solid effort against Troy on Saturday.
"We have to improve on some segments of today's practice," Petrino said. "The team we are playing is well coached and plays hard. They have good players.
"The strength is the front four. It's real active. They have two good defensive ends that come off the edge, the nose tackle is big and good and the three technique, the tackle over the guard, is very good. They are real active up front. We will have to play well and utilize our technique against this team."
"They've improved," Petrino said. "That first game, against Bowling Green, they could have won. Then they played Florida. But to be honest, but since then, the teams they've played haven't been as good as those first two. They played two real good teams to open the season."
The Hogs have played better in the last few weeks, too.
"We've improved," Petrino said. "That's what I see. We've gotten better in short yardage. We've made most of them the last few weeks. And, we had a solid game last week with no dropped passes. We had no turnovers the past two weeks.
"This past week, we had one penalty, no turnovers and no drops. You do that and most weeks you are going to win the game.
"As I said, we will need to play well this week, too. Troy is no Eastern Michigan, a very good team."
London Crawford didn't realize the receivers made it through the South Carolina game with no drops until it was mentioned in Sunday meetings.
"Coach (Bobby) Petrino said the offense did some great things and he asked if we knew what some of them were," Crawford said. "Then, he told us, no dropped passes. That's pretty great and I hadn't thought of it until he said it. That's the goal each week. We had not done it since the opener, so that's an improvement this past week."
Plus, Mallett had his best game.
"I think part of it was that our receivers played so well," Mallett said. "Those guys caught everything close to them."
Crawford made a big-time grab to start the Hogs' go-ahead touchdown march in the third quarter. He erased a second-and-10 situation with a leaping grab on the sideline.
"Without a doubt, that was one of my best catches since I've been here," Crawford said. "First, the throw was perfect. They had a guy fly out in the flat so the only place Ryan could throw it was high and to the sideline. He put it up there with the belief that his receiver would go get it. That's big-time as far as confidence. I had to go get it when he did that for me.
"I think I'm getting my speed back since my injury. I am close to full speed now. It's been a battle coming back."
Did he ever contemplate redshirting after the early injury?
"I did, but I'm really ultra competitive," Crawford said. "I think the thought of watching the rest of the season while my teammates played just wouldn't work. Coach (Paul) Petrino told me to do what was best for me and gave me the option. I just wanted to come back and help. It might have been better to come back for a healthy senior year, but I wanted to do it. I wanted to help my teammates. I felt like I was a leader and needed to try to get back."
|Marc F. Henning|
|D.J. Williams had season-highs in catches (7) and receiving yards (137) against South Carolina.|
The Hogs needed Crawford's solid play along with a standout game from tight end D. J. Williams.
"South Carolina really put a lot of focus on Joe Adams," Petrino said. "They had a linebacker underneath and they had him covered over the top, too. That left D. J. uncovered. To be honest, D.J. wasn't the primary receiver too often in that game. He was the third or fourth option several times. So that was big for Ryan to go through the progressions.
"That was a strong game from Ryan, but I think he'll continue to develop. He's going to keep getting better. I'm a big Ryan Mallett fan. I still feel that way and he's still getting better.
"I think you see a quarterback with a lot of bullets and he's using all of them. You take away one thing, he goes to something else. That's the way this offense is designed."
The Hogs were close to full strength in practice. David Gordon, Dede Jones and Ramon Broadway -- all hobbled a bit the last few weeks -- all practiced and appeared ready for the Troy game.