Hogs trying to build on past success

Tyler Wilson

Arkansas faces another team coming off an open date at South Carolina. Exactly who has the advantage? It's clear that the Hogs are not going to worry about it.

It's another team with an open date waiting for Arkansas. South Carolina is the sixth team this year that did not play before meeting the Razorbacks. Quarterback Tyler Wilson said he's not concerned.

"It may be as much as an advantage for us as a disadvantage," Wilson said Monday at the media briefing in the Broyles Center.

"We didn't play great after our open date. You can get out of our routine. We weren't playing our best after the bye. Sometimes, you'd like it better if you were coming off a win and you kept playing. I think it works well in our favor."

Otha Peters will start at middle linebacker with Terrell Williams suspended. Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said Braylon Mitchell would be added to the mix as the defense searches for more depth. Smith said Williams, who was charged for a DWI and resisting arrest Saturday night, would not travel this week.

"I'm very, very upset," Smith said. "I don't even want to talk about that. I don't even want to talk to him right now. Don't know what to say when someone shows that little compassion or caring for his teammates, so I don't have a lot of compassion for him."

Smith said the Hogs need for leadership to step up within the defense with Terrell Williams out. He's been the leader of the defense from the middle linebacker spot.

"It's the nature of that position in the middle," Smith said. "It's a leadership position. So we will ask Ross Rasner to help direct things a little more from his position, help the younger guys. We will need Eric Bennett at safety to be more vocal and help people get lined up right. We will need others to step up with more leadership."

There is no clarification on Brandon Mitchell, out the last two weeks.

"I don't have much news there," Smith said.

Tight end Chris Gragg is doubtful this week after missing the Tulsa game with a re-aggravation of a knee injury. Smith said, "It would be pushing the envelope to even think about (Gragg) playing." Smith said Knile Davis (hamstring) is "50-50 this week" for South Carolina.

John L. Smith said he has great respect for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. He said their relationship began many decades ago when he took his staff on the road to learn their system. He said it was on a trip where they stopped first at Miami to visit Dennis Erickson's staff, then to Gainesville to visit Spurrier.

Asked about Spurrier's comments that he liked Smith, the Arkansas coach said, "He's lying. Really, it probably just goes back to those days when we took our staff to see him. He was very gracious with his time as we tried to develop our staff. For me, it's always a priviledge to go coach no matter where you go. But Coach Spurrier is kind of a legend."

Smith joked about Spurrier's golf ability.

"I don't like guys who can both coach and play golf," Smith said. "But, he's a guy who tries to do as much for his players as he can. He's one of the guys in this profession who is concerned about players more than himself."

The Hogs have won three in a row against South Carolina, something both Smith and players said will benefit them as they go to Columbia.

"Yes, we've touched on that," Smith said. "It's some tradition that we have. We play good against those guys. We matchup well. Traditionally, we play hard against them."

Tyler Wilson said, "They understand that we came there two years ago and won and we beat them here last year. We know they are going to battle and they know we are going to battle."

Defensive end Chris Smith went along with that to a degree.

"It kinda, sorta does mean something," he said. "They are No. 8 in the BCS, but they know about the way we play. We are going to go there and play hard. I will say that our record this year doesn't define this team. It's hard to beat us when we play Razorback football."

It's a big week for Smith. He hails from Mount Ulla, N.C., a little more than one hour from Columbia, S.C. He said he's scrambling for game tickets to take care of relatives.

"I don't know how many I'm going to need, 15 or 20," he said. "Pray for me. I may have to cut it off at some point."

Smith said he wasn't recruited by Carolina, something he hopes to use to his advantage much like teammate Trey Flowers did against Auburn. Flowers, an Alabama native, was not recruited by Auburn and made 3.5 sacks against the Tigers.

"I want to play with a chip on my shoulder, but I'm glad Arkansas came after me," he said. "They showed me the most love. I'm glad I'm here.

"I hope I'm like Trey was against Auburn. I hope to have a performance like he did."

Defensive end play might define the game. Carolina's tandem of Devin Taylor and Jadevon Clowney gets a lot of the publicity, but Smith won his second SEC lineman of the week award after the Tulsa victory.

"It's a good game with the ends," Smith said. "Trey Flowers and I have talked about that in the summer, that the LSU ends (Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo) and the South Carolina ends get a lot of attention. Why can't that be us? We may not be as tall and long as those guys, but we can play that way.

"One of our coach, Paul Petrino, said it's about getting to the quarterback. The team that gets to the quarterback is usually the team that wins the game."

It will be on the UA offensive line to provide more protection. Wilson was slammed on the first play of the game against Tulsa and he also took big hits in other parts of the game.

"It's another tough team," Wilson said of the Carolina pass rush. "I think it correlates a little to last week when we were facing college football team's number one sack team. I'll talk to the guys this afternoon to make sure they know (about the Carolina sack total of 30).

"The emphasis will be to keep me upright so I can get the ball to our playmakers. They know they have a job to do. So do I. I probably worry more about doing my job than (the offensive line) doing their job.

"Carolina does some things to get them in man-to-man to get Clowney free. That gives us some matchups, too. I put my faith in my guys. A lot of what I do is to focus on my job and not worry about them."

Wilson knows that taking shots comes with the territory in the Arkansas offense.

"I just try to do my job the best I can," he said. "If I concentrate on my job, then they are going to concentrate on their job. Our guys up front are a union and they are going to do their job.

"Taking licks is just the way it's going to be. I've known that. Week in and week out, you are going to face the rush and different schemes that come in trying to get their shots (on the quarterback). You just know that at times, you are going to take hits. I took one on the first play and then a few more later in the game."

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