Arkansas will have wide receiver Joe Adams back for the Auburn game on Saturday in Fayetteville, and the Razorbacks are anxious play in their home stadium after two weeks away.
It will be a packed house for the 6 p.m. kickoff, several recruits will be in the house, it should feel nice and cool for what should be a fourth quarter game, and the No. 14 ranked defending national champions are coming to town. It's SEC Football.
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"Week in and week out you have to stay hungry, and you always have to kind of have a chip on your shoulder," UA offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said on Tuesday. "We believe in winning our games at home in front of our home crowd, so it's a huge game for us."
The Razorbacks have had the injury bug for a couple of weeks now. Arkansas was without both starting ends the whole game and was without both starting cornerbacks for almost all of it. A couple of offensive players got beat up also, including Adams (ribs).
"He was out there today," McGee said. "He'll be fresh, he'll be fine. He had a really good attitude, he's confident, and he wants to do what he has to do to help us win this weekend."
Last weekend, only six months after tearing an ACL, senior Broderick Green returned to the field and made a few of the biggest runs of his career, including a fourth quarter touchdown on 3rd-and-3 take the lead and a 10-yard run on 3rd-and-8 to seal the win in the closing minutes.
"I feel good. If I was in any kind of pain I definitely wouldn't have chose to come back. I was rehabbing hard, and I felt pretty good about it. I wasn't having anymore pain or swelling, and I decided to give it a go," Green said. "I got the strength back in my legs in the weight room, and I had my full range of motion, so I said if it gets better I'm going to give it a go."
"It's always good to have Broderick back because he's experienced and he's a big man," McGee said. "He's 250 pounds, and he's a really good athlete, and he's really confident running the ball close to the goal line."
"I think his role will expand each week," Horton said. "The -yard run at the end of the game was one of the most beautiful runs I've ever seen because we sure didn't want to have to punt, and we sure didn't want to have to go for it on fourth down."
Horton said the team expected to apply for a special waiver to grant Green a sixth year of eligibility in August at the Bobby Petrino Golf Scramble. No doubt he did not expect this back then.
"We were thinking that he might have a chance to get back for late November, early December at best and then through the month of August he really took great strides, and you've got to give a lot of credit to Matt Summers and his staff," Razorback running backs coach Tim Horton said.
Along with Green late in the game, Dennis Johnson stepped up big-time. Johnson missed 11 games last season and received a medical redshirt and was slow to get started this season after dealing with a hamstring. Ronnie Wingo Jr. did not play again after the third quarter, but he was back in after his touchdown catch. Any injury possibility with Wingo has been undisclosed.
"Dennis' ability just to be versatile - move out of the backfield, catch balls, catch screens and make plays. You can motion him out of the backfield, and he's a threat to run down the field and catch passes," McGee said.
Peacock shows improvement
The coaches feel the offensive line improved as the game went on, and the offensive production would support that claim. Texas A&M may not have the same level of talent as Alabama, but they run a complex defense with a lot of movement.
"I thought they did an excellent job because that team that we played last week, their pressure package is as complex as anybody in college football, and we spent a lot of our time with five receivers on the field with just five protectors, and they did a really good job with sorting out their pressures," McGee said.
With the stemming and all those looks and movement, it isn't the best situation to be in when breaking in a new weakside tackle, but Jason Peacock did a notable job against a tough defensive scheme, especially in the second half.
"He had his ups and downs," offensive line coach Chris Klenakis said. "He's still got a lot to learn at the position, and the speed of the game he's still got to adjust to. The thing I was happy with Jason is he competed four quarters, and he was a guy in the third quarter and the fourth quarter you could look in his eyes on the bench and you could see some excitement and some fire and a guy who wanted to go out and compete and win the game. I was happy to see that."
Preparing for Auburn's defense
Arkansas will face a different look this weekend with Auburn, probably a little bit more like their own. Auburn started off as a young team, but the Tigers have had their two best defensive performances the last two weeks, particularly in a 16-13 win at South Carolina where the Tigers surrendered just 289 yards of offense.
"I think they're getting better," McGee said. "I think the best part about it is that they're simple. They don't do much on defense, and a lot of times teams that don't do much they understand all the details of what they're doing, and they're able to really study your offense and understand how to match your routes and how to get a pre-snap read on your formations because they don't do much on defense. A lot of times teams like this are really dangerous because they can stand there in their same defense snap after snap and really match what you're doing."
Hogs lose shootout in 2010
Last year's game had it all - offense, points, huge momentum swings, comebacks, hostility, controversial calls and late turnovers. It was the kind of game where something in the house was broken or ripped apart...maybe somebody said something they later wish they could've taken back.
"Each game is different. This team has a different personality than last year's team," McGee said. "We have different leadership, we've went through different obstacles, we've had different things to go through in training camp. I don't think the game last year at all has any affect on this game Saturday night."
First home conference game
To the players it means something because it's an SEC game. There's always some big storyline with every fan base in this conference regarding an opponent. Just so happens for this one there are several.
"There's more to it. It's conference play right here. We lost the last conference game, so we've got to pick it up," Green said. "It's Auburn. It's our rival. We've got to come out and we can't let them beat us like they did last year."
"That was the game last year, and we've just got to come out and play hard because there's new guys out on the field on both sides of the ball," Adams said. "It's just another business game. It's personal because it's an SEC game. They did beat us last year, so we've just got to come out and play our best. We know they're going to come out and play their best."
Huge recruiting weekend
Saturday's game against Auburn will be the first SEC home game for the Razorbacks, and it presents a great opportunity for the Hogs to host recruits.
Arkansas coaches have run into a few problems with their scheduling early this season with regard to recruiting.
Arkansas is only allowed to bring recruits to one game in Little Rock. The Razorbacks always face either Mississippi State or LSU in Little Rock every year, and now one SEC game is slated to be played against Texas A&M in Arlington's Cowboys Stadium with the Aggies joining the conference next season. That leaves two SEC home games in Fayetteville every other season.
"There's going to be a lot of recruits from Texas at that Oklahoma-Texas game this weekend," Horton, who also doubles as recruiting coordinator, said. "In the Big XII, you can...
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