Coming To The Rock

Arkansas players Ryan Mallett, Jerico Nelson and Anthony Leon met with the media on Monday to review the win over Tennessee Tech and preview Saturday's game in Little Rock with Louisiana-Monroe,

Ryan Mallett would like you to believe that he thought his play was so-so, he loves playing in Little Rock and that he is the only sports fan in Arkansas who didn't know about the biggest upset in college football last weekend.

Anthony Leon wants you to know that he is a safety playing linebacker – and that he likes playing much better than just hanging out on the sideline drinking Gatorade.

And Razorback defender Jerico Nelson advises that he believes the defense can be dominate this year instead of dominated.

That's just some of the takeaways from Monday's University of Arkansas press conference reviewing the 44-3 win over Tennessee Tech and previewing the next game against Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock.

Whnever you ask about Little Rock, there's always a smile on a guy's face," Mallett said. "The crowd here is awesome, but there is something different about Little Rock. The whole time you can't really hear anything. They are always loud and know when to cheer. They know when we have the ball not to cheer, and I think that gives us a big advantage."

Arkansas obviously had a big advantage at several spots against Tennessee Tech, including at quarterback where Mallett was 21-of-24 for 301 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception.

"After watching the film yesterday, I saw that I made a few mistakes I can clean up," Mallett said. " Other than that, it was a so-so performance. I have to come in and get better this week by watching the film and seeing what I can approve on. I missed a couple of check downs, which is uncharacteristic of myself, but the offensive line did a good job of picking up the blitzes and we got yards out of those plays still."

As much as Arkansas fans loved the win, many of them also took great pleasure in Jacksonville State (and former Razorback coach Jack Crowe) upsetting Ole Miss (and former UA head coach Houston Nutt) 49-48 on Saturday in Oxford.

"What happened at Ole Miss?," Mallett said while smiling when asked of his opinion on the subject. "Really? Wow."

Perhaps it would have helped Ole Miss if they had pass-catching targets like Joe Adams (6 catches for 138 yards and 2 TDs) and all-SEC tight end D.J. Williams (5 catches, 68 yards).

One of Adams' touchdowns was an 85-yard reception on which he did most of the work.

"You see when Joe's got the ball how explosive he can be," Mallett said. "That last bubble screen wasn't against the defense we wanted, but he made something happen and got into the end zone. That shows you what kind of player he is and how easily he can get into the end zone. If they double him up it won't matter, because we'll have guys to get the ball to either way."

Williams also had good yardage after his catches.

"When you can get D.J. the ball he's going to make something happen," Mallett said. "He can really make guys miss, because it takes more than one guy to bring him down. He got great separation from the linebackers and got himself open."

It was the first start for redshirt freshman center Travis Swanson.

"I thought he did a really good job," Mallett said. "Obviously I don't grade his film, but his demeanor in the huddle was great. He's a young guy that does a good job at being a leader. He was working to get guys in and out of the huddle to speed up the tempo. That is something that we have to do better in the beginning of the game."

Linebacker Anthony Leon, another new starter, made quite the impression after moving from safety.

He had 8 tackles, 4 of which were for lost yardage and 2 of which were sacks.

"I'm playing with a passion," Leon said. "I want to go out there and make plays. It's my senior year, so I do my best to help the team the best I can. I love playing safety, but linebacker gets me closer to the ball. I get to go at a lot of tight ends and running backs. That gives me an advantage because my speed is pretty good at linebacker."

Leon, who says he had a goal of 12 tackles in his first start, notes playing sure beats hanging out on the sidelines.

"Last year I was just drinking a lot of Gatorade most of the time and this year I was just out there playing a lot," Leon said. "It was real fun and I had fun."

Linebacker Jerico Nelson was pleased with the defense's effort, but thinks it can get better and that unit is going to be more of a strength than a weakness this season.

"I feel like it was dominant, but we can always do better," Nelson said. "When you go back and look at the game film, everything needs work. We had some missed assignments, things like that, that in a different situation would have resulted in a big play for the other team."

Arkansas barely beat Louisiana Monroe 28-27 two seasons ago in Little Rock.

This will be the Warhawks' season opener under new head coach Todd Berry while the Razorbacks have gotten the kinks out according to Mallett.

"From a team standpoint it's really good," Mallett said. "We know how to operate on the sideline now and communicate. It was especially important for the younger guys, because we had to see how they are going to play in a real game for the first time.

"Louisiana-Monroe may be able to change some things up since we don't have a film from this year, but a lot of times that can hurt you more than help you," Mallett said.


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