FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. RUTGERS NOTES
1. Challenging Knile Davis
Arkansas offense coordinator Paul Petrino said the Razorbacks were counting on their star players need to dig them out of the hole against Rutgers on Saturday.
One player he mentioned in particular was running back Knile Davis.
“He just needs to will us to victory,” Petrino said. “He needs to make a big play for us early in the game, you know. … Our best players, those are the guys that have got to take the team and put them on their back and go make a big play, and win.
“That’s their job. That’s what I do as a great player. I go make great plays.”
Davis rushed for 59 yards on 20 carries in the 52-0 loss to Alabama on Saturday, which is no easy feat. But his performance on the ground was marred by four fumbles, which included two that were recovered by the Crimson Tide.
Davis does lead Arkansas in rushing with 191 yards and two touchdowns through three games, but the explosion that made him one of the best backs in the country in 2010 hasn’t been noticeable. Davis’ longest run came on a 19-yarder at the end of the fourth quarter against ULM. He is averaging just 3.5 yards a carry.
Davis was asked about Petrino’s challenge and said he “totally” agreed.
“I need to do something,” Davis said. “I just need to lead this team to the Promised Land. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Davis said missing the 2011 season because of his fractured ankle has nothing to do with his early-season issues. The junior said he imply needs to improve Saturday.
“Just do the little things right,” Davis said. “Don’t make mistakes. Just show the team in my demeanor - don’t show any quit in my demeanor. That’s the main thing.”
Said Petrino: “It’s time to go out and do it. Talking is over. It’s time to go do it.”
2. Wilson Participates
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson participated in practice Tuesday, but Petrino said he continues to be day-to-day for Saturday’s game against Rutgers.
Coach John L. Smith said a day earlier the plan was for Wilson to participate in the Razorbacks’ preparation. Wilson, who was knocked out of the Louisiana-Monroe game on Sept. 8, still must be pass concussion tests before he can play.
“I thought he looked great,” Petrino said about Wilson. “I’d say he was on fire. His arm was fresh and hot. He looked really good.”
All three quarterbacks — Wilson, Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell — took turns under center during the portion of practice open to the media. Mitchell said Wilson was much more involved in Arkansas’ gameplan during Tuesday’s practice.
“He seemed a little sharper, making checks and things like that,” Mitchell said. “He didn’t really try to do too much as far as thinking last week. But this week he’s in the gameplan and things like that. He’s looking great.”
3. White Helmets
Arkansas is in need of changes after two straight losses. One noticeable difference during Tuesday’s practice: The Razorbacks donned white helmets.
The white helmets are part of Arkansas’ Nike uniforms, which were unveiled with an elaborate video on the school’s website this summer. There are three different jerseys and pants (white, red and anthracite) and two helmets (red and white).
Arkansas officials said the white helmets were worn during practice because they need to be broken in before getting any game use. Several Razorbacks said they’re hoping the white helmets will be worn for the Rutgers game.
“I think that’s why we’re breaking them in Davis said.
Said Mitchell: “It gives us a different look. You’ve got the white and the gray on there with the white and red hog. It looks great with the uniforms. I like the changeup.”
4. Extra Points
Coaches and players always us the cliché “one game at a time.” Mitchell said Arkansas took it to another level after their 1-2 start, ripping the 2012 schedule down in the team’s weight room and replacing it with one word: Rutgers. “That’s what we’re looking forward to this week. That’s all,” Mitchell said. … Freshman Will Hines was working with the first-team defense during the portion of practice open to the media. He worked alongside senior Kaelon Kelleybrew, while Darius Winston lined up with the second-team. … Freshman Nate Holmes has moved to cornerback. Holmes hasn’t logged any snaps at running back this season, but is Arkansas’ primary punt returner.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau