Arkansas coach John L. Smith sat down and stated the obvious this afternoon.
There's nothing new to say about Arkansas (3-4, 2-2 in SEC) as it prepares for Saturday's game against Ole Miss (4-3, 1-2).
The Razorbacks took Friday and Saturday off during the open week. They returned to practice Sunday. They are eager to get back on the field in Little Rock.
OK. While it wasn't the most eventful press conference this season, it wasn't that bland. There actually were a few things we learned from Smith, center Travis Swanson and defensive tackle Alfred Davis on Monday. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Arkansas has its swagger back - Smith said his team has always practiced with energy. It has always prepared well. But he believes Arkansas looks much more confident - and is gaining confidence each day - after picking up wins against Auburn and Kentucky. "It’s more like a sense of we’re back to where we think we should’ve been, you know?" Smith said. "So it’s more of a, yeah, we’ve kind of got our swagger back a little bit and our confidence is good." It won't erase the fact Arkansas opened the season 1-4, but Smith believes the confidence will be key the rest of the way as Arkansas tries to salvage as much of the season as possible beginning with Saturday's game.
2. Travis Swanson doesn't enjoy watching other games - How do you know Arkansas has more confidence? Center Travis Swanson gave one indication today, saying he didn't enjoy sitting around and watching football during the off week. "It was kind of frustrating for Saturday to kind of just be sitting around and not playing a game and watching all the other games go on," Swanson said. "We were happy to get back out there."
3. Arkansas in good shape at running back - The Razorbacks haven't been great on the ground this season. But it appears Arkansas is figuring things out at the midway point once again. Dennis Johnson has emerged as the No. 1 option. Jonathan Williams will probably get more carries after a big performance catching the ball vs. Kentucky. The Razorbacks haven't given up on Knile Davis yet, either, despite his rough start. Smith on backfield: "I think it is probably the best it’s been all year and I think we’re getting better."
4. Arkansas is as healthy as it can be - Arkansas isn't injury free. There are four players, after all, out for the season. But Smith said Arkansas is doing all right after the bye week. TE Chris Gragg, who has missed three straight games, is doing more as he continues to work back from the bone bruise. Smith said Gragg is feeling soreness and has to fight through it. RB Ronnie Wingo is doing better after a shoulder injury. And DT D.D. Jones continues to rest after what Smith described as fatigue issues. Those are the only issues at this point.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau