NEW ORLEANS — Quite a difference in New Year’s Eves.
A year ago, the Arkansas Razorbacks were preparing for their first bowl experience under head coach Bobby Petrino. The entire bowl process — practice, in the city of Memphis, the game itself — became a learning exercise for this year.
This time, the Razorbacks are focused, in fact, somewhat oblivious, of the fact they are in one of the nation’s great cities for big celebrations.
The plans for tonight? Aside from a 11 p.m. curfew, football and rest.
Many players brought their XBox or PS3 units, and Joe Adams mentioned there could be another game tournament tonight.
Everyone says their team is focused, and their team is prepared. It’s part of the coaching cliche and aphorism book.
Not only are the Razorbacks saying all the right things, they look it. There is a business swagger to their appearances.
Very different from just a year ago.
Senior DeMarcus Love said it best. When asked by one of the New Orleans reporters about his "journey" from coaching changes to no bowl to BCS bowl, he answered that he was proud to have been a part of the transition and building a foundation for future players to reach to the next level.
More than one player said the goal this year was the BCS Championship game, and they hit "a couple of bumps" or "couple of obstacles" meaning the Alabama and Auburn games. So they are here today in a BCS bowl and focused on taking the next step.
More than one player also admitted maybe everyone at the start of the year didn’t quite believe that was possible.
Today, they don’t just believe it’s possible. They are setting out on the course to make it happen.
Yes, it may have been just 365 days ago, but as the Razorbacks stand on the edge of 2011, imagine where the program can go from here.
Rains came to New Orleans this morning, the typical tropical showers. The temps rose up into the 70s today, and it could be a wet New Year’s Eve for the revelers in the French Quarter. Another marked contrast to last year in Memphis, where the temps were bitter cold and the howling winds made the outdoor practices, well, interesting.
Tomorrow is defensive day for the media conferences, and we anticipate more questions about Ohio State’s offense for the Razorbacks.
Practice tomorrow packs up from the Superdome as the New Orleans Saints take back over for their season finale with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday the Razorbacks will be at Tulane University.
Kniles Davis asked about his interesting first name told the reporter that he hadn’t heard of many other people with a similar name. "There’s Frazier and Niles, but that’s about it."
D.J. Williams recalled the highlight of his trip to DisneyWorld for the college sports awards show when he received the Disney Spirit Award: fulfilling a dream of meeting Princess Jasmine.
Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee asked about the impact of Davis on the offense. He points to John Elway, a quarterback who was considered great becoming a champion with the addition of Terrell Davis. The effect for Ryan Mallett and Kniles Davis was the same.
DeMarcus Love captured a running theme among the players that Ohio State has a solid defense, "but we play great defenses every week" in the SEC.