Football battles cold weather

FAYETTEVILLE – The temperature in Fayetteville is dropping, but one couldn’t tell from the spirits of the Arkansas football team as it practiced in perhaps the coldest weather of the season on Tuesday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in preparation for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference clash with Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.

The Hogs were on the field for nearly two hours on Tuesday going over the basics and working into the game plan for Saturday’s contest. The session ended with special teams work before the team moved indoors to watch film.

“Pretty good practice,” Arkansas Offensive Coordinator Paul Petrino said. “The guys were flying around and had real good energy. Things went pretty well.”

Junior running back Michael Smith was on the field Tuesday after taking a week off. The rest seemed to do one of the leading rushers in the NCAA well as the Tallahassee, Fla., native showed a new spring in his step.

“Michael looked pretty good,” Petrino said. “He looked a lot fresher and it was good for him to have last week off. He moved around well and had a pretty good practice.”

The Razorbacks once again face a tough defense in Mississippi State and the Bulldogs have several playmakers which Arkansas’ must be aware of. The Bulldogs are ranked 19th in the nation in total defense and are solid against the run.

“I think [Mississippi State does] a good job up front,” Petrino said. “Their front seven is pretty good; they do some different things schematically and do a good job of stopping the run. They’ve been pretty good defensively all year and good on third downs. Their strength is probably the guys up front.”

Arkansas is also strong up front with its offensive line and it all starts with All-American center and 2007 Rimington Trophy Award winner Jonathan Luigs.

“He’s done a good job [this year],” Petrino said. “He’s been a good leader and does a good job of making the calls at the line of scrimmage.”

A nice addition to the offense over the past few weeks has been freshman wide receiver Jarius Wright who has seven catches and a touchdown in his last two games. Wright is becoming another go-to target for Arkansas’ quarterbacks and his maturation is impressing the Razorback coaching staff.

“He’s really improved,” Petrino said. “You always talk about the film is your resume and come up with different things that you can do real well. Each night he comes up with another route that he is getting down really well so that is a real good thing to see.”

The Razorbacks and Bulldogs square off in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback football or University of Arkansas athletics please visit