FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ defense understands the challenge that lies ahead when 12th-ranked Florida comes to town on Saturday for yet another tough challenge for the Razorback football team.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner leads a high octane offense who is looking to avenge their stunning 31-30 loss from a week ago. Despite Arkansas’ struggles, however, the Razorbacks are looking strong in practice and should be ready for what Florida throws at them.
“Even the last two weeks we’ve had a great attitude and they’ve been practicing hard,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. “It’s still a foundation that continues to grow. You can’t fault them for what they are doing practice wise.”
The Razorbacks practiced in shoulder pads and shorts on Wednesday, not their typical garb for the middle of the week, but one that Robinson and the rest of the Razorback coaching staff thought was appropriate for the day.
“We kind of looked at the way we operated last Wednesday and we were going to get the same things out of what we wore today as we did last Wednesday,” Robinson said. “It isn’t anything different. We discussed it as a staff but we knew that if we went with the full pads or the shells we were going to get the same thing.”
The Razorbacks got bad news on Wednesday as starting defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee sidelining him for several weeks. While Robinson knows that replacing Mitchell will be difficult, he was upbeat about his backups and what they bring to the table.
“It’s an unfortunate deal whether it’s temporary or permanent, we still don’t know yet,” Robinson said. “As far as his replacement, we have a freshman that will step in and a veteran backup that will step in. They are stout kids. Not quite as athletic but very reliable. What they have done since they’ve played for us is be very reliable. They do exactly as they are coached to do and to be honest they are playing pretty darn good.”
Arkansas allowed a couple of big plays from a mobile quarterback a week ago in Colt McCoy of Texas and Florida’s Tim Tebow was the nation’s top player a year ago for doing the exact same thing. Tebow’s ability to run has the Razorbacks ready to play a disciplined defense.
“He’s a giant,” Robinson said of Tebow. “A lot bigger than the kid we played last week. He can run the ball and really sees himself as a running back most of the time and he has the ability to throw. He’s more than willing to play reckless and dip his shoulder and run. He’s really similar to the guy we played last week except he’s 6-4, 240 (pounds).”
The Razorbacks are back on the field on Thursday afternoon as they complete their game plan for #12 Florida. For more information regarding Razorback football or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.