FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. MISSISIPPI STATE NOTES
1. Davis Will Play, Williams Won’t
Arkansas running back Knile Davis has endured a disappointing year, rushing for just 340 yards after being touted as a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate.
But Davis will have another chance to make an impression when the Razorbacks (4-6, 2-4 in SEC) play at Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) on Saturday.
Coach John L. Smith said Davis participated in practices this week and will be available after missing two straight games with a hamstring injury. Senior Dennis Johnson and freshman Jonathan Williams are expected to remain in their roles with the offense, but Davis will give Arkansas another option against the Bulldogs.
“Knile practiced all week, did a lot better and will play,” Smith said. “So that’s good. Good news. He felt good. At least that’s what he tells me. ‘I’m good to go.’”
That’s not the case with suspended linebacker Terrell Williams, who Smith said is “still working” on his return to the team after his driving while intoxicated arrest hours after the Tulsa win. Otha Peters will start in Williams’ place at middle linebacker for the second straight week. He had eight tackles against South Carolina.
Smith said Williams does have a chance to return for next week’s regular-season finale against LSU. Arkansas will honor its senior class before the final home game.
“I would hope his parents could come and experience Senior Day,” Smith said.
Arkansas’ injury list also includes tight end Chris Gragg (knee), who will miss his third straight game. Running back Nate Holmes is out after suffering a head injury.
2. Cowan Ready For Returns
Arkansas receiver D’Arthur Cowan, a Mississippi native, may get a chance to help the Razorbacks on special teams in his home state Saturday.
Smith said the freshman has been working on kick returns along veteran Dennis Johnson. The Razorbacks turned return duties over to Holmes for the South Carolina game, but the freshman suffered an injury and won’t play Saturday.
“He’s been the most impressive on kickoff this week,” Smith said. “So I really like what I see out of him. Now that was before (Thursday). We have to correct one. But I really like his explosion. He’s a guy that as a freshman, he’s been in games. He’s taken some hits. He’s secured the ball. And he has great explosion.”
Cowan didn’t play during the first half of the season, but made his first appearance against Kentucky. He has three catches for 14 yards in four games this season.
3. More Cowbell
Arkansas will be heading into a noisy environment when it plays at Mississippi State. But Smith said the prospects of clanging cowbells in Starkville, Miss., didn’t lead to special attention in practice this week.
“We haven’t done anything as far as practicing in that noise, environment, other than the games,” Smith said. “We seem to get along pretty good because, you know, South Carolina, Texas A&M, that’s about as loud as it gets.”
Smith was asked if he recalled the noise from the 2010 game, which Arkansas won 38-31 in two overtimes. He said he didn’t remember them.
“Some reason I really don’t,” Smith said. “But I guess they’re still alive and well.”
4. Birthday? What Birthday?
Smith celebrated his 64th birthday Thursday. But he was hoping it would go unnoticed during his post-practice press conference.
“Do you have to bring that up?” said Smith, who then added he was having a great day. “I try to forget those birthday deals.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau