Arkansas Press Conference Quotes

Arkansas Press Conference Quotes

Hogs coaches and players talk season opener

Head Coach John L. Smith (opening statement) –“We are very thankful to be getting into a game. We are tired of camp. Kids get like this. Coaches get excited about playing first games. I think it’s been a little bit of a longer camp because there have been so many one-a-days. Because you only get so many opportunities so it just seems like it’s been spread out. It seems like it’s been a fairly long camp, and I know our guys are excited about being in the regimentation of game week. That’s an exciting thing and we are excited as coaches to be there and excited for the players to be there, and let’s get going. I know we’re fired up to be playing someone other than ourselves, I know our expectations are high and I know our guys are going to go to the field this week and prepare well and be ready to go.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on how RB-Knile Davis looked in Friday’s mock game) – “He looked real good. He looked like Knile. The first time they tackled him all the way to the ground he coughed the ball up, but the ground cause the fumble so it would not have been a fumble.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on how many carries RB-Knile Davis had in Friday’s mock game) – “I would have to go back and take a look. We kind of went [over the tape] until we were tired of it, which was 2 a.m. He got plenty, so it was enough. We will ease him into it and right off the bat, give him the ball. He’s ready to go, though. He’s excited. I think it was good for him without a doubt to take some hits and feel good about himself, take some hits, feel good and take some more. So I think he feels good about himself.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on S-Eric Bennett, LB-Tenarius Wright and LB-Alonzo Highsmith) – “They’re healthy again. Bennett’s healthy and ready to go. They all played with the exception of we kept Tank (Tenarius Wright) from hitting anybody. Highsmith played most of the mock scrimmage, so he is ready to go. His hamstring injury is fine and so is Bennett’s. Again, we didn’t want to have them hit. We want to keep Tank from hitting until it’s game time, and that’s what we’ll do. He will practice all week. All of those guys are ready. We’re healthy. I can’t even think of hardly any tweaks.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on how few injuries the team has sustained during camp) – “Well again, we’ve been fortunate. I think our training staff has done a good job with the kids and our kids have done a good job of getting their tail in and rehabbing and getting treatments and those things. I am looking forward to today’s practice at full strength. We have a couple little tweaks. Everybody is good. Everybody should practice today so it feels good. Let’s get going.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on Brandon Mitchell at WR) – “A big body that runs and catches is a factor out there. He can create some mismatches. He’s just had a great fall camp and he creates some problems for some people.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on WR-Mekale McKay) – “He had a very good camp. You’re going to see a lot of these freshman play. He’s going to play, (Keon) Hatcher’s going to play. There’s a lot of freshman that are going to end up playing. We are going to play (A.J.) Turner. (Otha) Peters is going to play. I can go on and on. There will be a bunch of freshman playing this year.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on Friday’s mock game) – “You know it was really a good night for us. Normally what you do is play a mock game, where you have part of your team imitating the opposition, and those guys gave us a great look. You can only get as much out of that scrimmage depending on what look you get. This was as good a look as I can remember. They really did a good effort. Some of the execution again we struggled with, but the effort was really good. So I think we’ve got a lot out of it. We wanted to go in and play it kind of like a game so we did 40-some plays on the offense and about 40 plays on defense and a bunch of special teams stuff done so that’s what we wanted to get done.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on FB/LB Kiero Small) – “Kiero, we are using him so much. We are going to make sure that he doesn’t wear down, but yes we are going to use him at linebacker well. He kind of wore down a little bit, because again we are using him on both sides of the ball. He really likes it, but you can tell that he’s got to continue to get into better shape – and he is in good shape. He’ll play a bunch.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on Jacksonville State) – “The way it is today in college football with the numbers you can’t take anyone for granted because anybody can beat you. The field is so much more level than it was, say, five to 10 years ago. It’s just everybody’s personnel are getting better, and that’s what they want to do and, of course with the spreading of the scholarships and the scholarship limitations then everybody is better. So you better go to the field prepared and ready to go. Our guys are expecting a lot from themselves and I’m expecting a great practice this week. I’m not looking for us to, but yes you remind them. They know what’s at stake. They know they have pressure on them. They know they have to perform. So I expect them to go to the field and do that.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on this team possibly being the best Arkansas team) – “We still have a ways to go, but I really like our defensive front. I think that’s going to be the key for us. Those guys just staying healthy and that’s where we have the depth so we have to rely on those guys. Now we could be very, very good. We have to stay healthy at linebacker and in the secondary. Knock on wood, we stay healthy and we will be good.

Head Coach John L. Smith (on what the team needs to work on) – “Just to get better. Just to play somebody. You look at yourself and I guess as a coach you say ‘Boy we have to get better here.’ You really don’t know until that first game so that’s what’s great about this week. We are going to have a great barometer to see where we are. That’s something that we will take a little while and sit down and look at the film and say, ‘Look guys this is where we are’. I thought we were better, worse, whatever the case will be. At least we will know. When I say we have a long way to go I think as coaches you are never satisfied. You are always wanting to be better at every spot.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on the team’s leadership) – “I think our leaders and our senior class have done a great job, and I think their expectations of each other and the team are very, very high. At least my take right now is we are going to do the right things on and off the field. I’m optimistic. I’m looking forward. Like I said, I think we have a chance to do something special this year. Now, we are going to need the ball to bounce our way a few times, which you always are going to need in a league of this caliber, but I’m very excited. Again, I like our guys and I like being around them.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on how the defense has taken to Paul Haynes’ coaching style) – “They like Coach Haynes. They like all of our coaches I think. Even though sometimes we get after them a little bit, make them run, make them do things maybe they don’t want to do. Again, this is not a group that is going to complain. I hear very little complaints out of any of them. ‘OK coaches tell us what you want us to do.’ It’s exciting to say ‘I get to go to work with these guys today.’ I’m serious about that. Now that is not always the way it is in the coaching profession, but I can truly say I get up every morning and you just like being around them. They are just good kids. Respectful. They are hardworking.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on the WRs) – “I feel good. Cobi (Hamilton) is good player, as is (Chris) Gragg. Gragg is going to be used a lot more. He is a mismatch guy. I really think Brandon (Mitchell) is going to be that type as well, a mismatch guy who can play in some spots where you are bumping a linebacker and you’re trying to cover this guy and it’s going to be hard. We may not stretch down the field as much as we have had in the past, but bigger and more physical mismatches inside. That being said, we may not need to stretch the field quite as much as we have done in the past. We’ve been able to stretch it, but if you’re trying to cover me and I’m 6’ 6” and you’re 5’9” maybe we don’t need to stretch it as far. Throw me the ball. Some of that will end up evolving and taking place this year, I believe.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on former Arkansas head coach Jack Crowe returning) – “I am sure he is going to be motivated. I’m not real, real familiar. All I know is he was here and some circumstances took place and he was let go. I am sure he is going to be motivated to come back and do well. They are coached well. They are a good football team. Everybody remembers a few years ago that they beat an SEC team. He’s I’m sure excited to come back, but we are excited to play. Our kids are going to be excited to play somebody.”

Head Coach John L. Smith (on RB-Jonathan Williams) – “I believe we are going to play Jonathan. In fact, we are scheduling him in on some special team things, but he is a good football player. He is mentally and physically mature as a freshman. He has great vision and is a good player. We kind of made a decision we are going to play him.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on Friday night’s mock game) – “It looked really good. There’s a lot of positive things I think you gain from Friday night. Execution is one of them, probably a top thing. There were two incompletions through the entire night, I had one and Brandon Allen had one. I thought we did a lot of things very well. We ran the ball pretty good, especially at the end of the scrimmage. We got some things accomplished there, threw the ball really well if you look at the stats. So, that’s exciting. I went back and watched last year’s mock game. I was just curious to see where we were and how we stacked up to this point last year, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw so I’m excited about that.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on fall camp) – “There’s not really any big stories to write from during the fall camp, other than the defense had some good scrimmages, which was exciting. Everybody really settled in. We know what to expect, everything’s business as usual.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on WRs Brandon Mitchell and Mekale McKay) – “I think both those guys add a dimension that we haven’t had. The two front guys would be Cobi (Hamilton) and Chris Gragg. And then you mention Brandon Mitchell who we’ve worked with all offseason as a quarterback, it’s another quarterback on the field, which gives me a lot of confidence out there. He can point out a blitz, or a personnel change that I might not see because I’m calling a play or doing something at the line of scrimmage. That’s positive for me. I enjoy that. Mekale McKay, he’s a tremendous talent. He’s young, still a lot of things I think he can develop on and learn from. He brings an element of stretching the ball down the field, making big plays. He’s a big, tall, physical target. I’m excited about having him out there as well.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on if WRs will stretch the field) – “There will be some quick game implementing. We’re really good at that. That’s what we do really well, that’s what I did in high school a whole lot. And I’ve done that ever since I’ve been here. It just so happened in the past I had some guys that could really run and stretch the field. And we still have that capability, don’t get me wrong. I think you guys, when you say not being able to stretch the field, I don’t really feel that way. I feel like we do have the personnel to do that. It’s all about keeping ourselves in front of the chains, and I think we can do that very easily with the matchups we’ve got at wide receiver and being able to run the ball with Knile (Davis). We might not have to do that. We’ll definitely take shots, there’s no question. I’m going to be aggressive. Our play caller is going to be aggressive. He’s voiced that to me a number of times. He feels that I can check it down when it’s not there. If you’ve got that chemistry between a quarterback and a play caller, you can take shots. We’ll stretch it for sure.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on relief that RB-Knile Davis has been tackled in practice) – “It’s funny for me, yeah, he’s played football for a long time, he knows how to play the game. There is a little bit of mental approach to the game that’s taken away when you’ve been out for a little bit, in how do you approach the game, how do you go into a tackle. I don’t run the ball as much as Knile, so I don’t know how to vocalize it. Knile ran the ball very well, and will run it better and better each game that he’s out there.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on adjusting to Coach John L. Smith’s style) – “We’ve done it since the spring. We’ve had quite a while of it. There’s not been a big adaptation because he’s been here all along, so we’ve known his personality. I think there might be a different personality to the team, and the way we approach things, which is good. I like it.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on Brandon Mitchell’s adjustment to WR) – “It tells you a lot about the kind of person he is. Unselfish, very unselfish. He wants to do what’s best for the team. He’s been in that quarterback room for three years, and then says ‘Hey, I’m going to go play wide receiver.’ That takes a special guy to do that, especially when his body’s not in shape to run as much as those guys do. I’ve seen him walk into the quarterback room every day and it’s like he’s beat up. It’s tough to be a receiver, and you realize how hard those guys work. Brandon’s really coming along and he’s made tremendous strides in just the short amount of time that he’s played wide receiver. I think he’ll be very beneficial to our team.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on WR-Brandon Mitchell’s progress) – “It seemed like he was in a spot there where he was banged up a little bit, but ever since then his mind’s been back in it and I think he’s ready to go. I think he’s excited.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on the offensive line) – “They’re more mature. They’re older guys. You’ve got Travis Swanson at center who has tremendous potential. Alvin Bailey, who at the guard position I think is a tremendous talent as well. It gives you the security to run the ball between the tackles, and right now that is where we’re going in the run game. And then we’ve got some older guys who have a lot of game experience on the outside of the offensive line. Even though they might be new bodies in terms of starting experience, they’ve been around the system for a long time. They’re not gun-shy. I’m excited about that. They’re guys that care, and for me as a quarterback, that’s all you can ask for. They might mess up on an assignment now and then, but as long as they care tremendously about what our goals are, and what we want to do as a team, I can live with that. They’ve got my support, and they’ll be real good this year.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on how the offense is game planned by the coaching staff) –“I think you have to have good GAs. Our coaches do an exceptional job. I haven’t seen a whole lot of difference in that respect. The difference would be in organizing scout team, and the looks that we get during practice. In these upcoming weeks, especially in game preparation, those guys will be in the film room understanding the looks that we’re going to get, and our coaching staff will do a great job of prepping that. I haven’t noticed a whole lot of letup there.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on focusing on the upcoming season) – “You have to focus on the here and now. The way I approached camp was, we have this big packet at the beginning of camp that had our itinerary from day one until the end of camp. If you look at the whole thing, you want to throw up. It just kind of makes you sick. It’s the same way with the football season. If you look at every game and everything that you have to do, you think ‘I can’t even do this.’ You approach it one day at a time, one practice at a time, you accomplish all of it. Then at the end of the day, you look back and see that it wasn’t so bad. That’s the way I’m going to approach the season. That’s the way I approached it in the past, that’s the way I approached it last year. It’s no different. No different this year. It’s all Jacksonville State right now and I’m 100 percent focused on them.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on RB-Knile Davis’ performance in Friday’s mock game) – “He had a really focused look on his face going into that scrimmage like he was in the zone, like he was ready for the moment to finally be over that he carried the ball again. I don’t think there’s a story, more just he was extremely ready to go, and ready for that time to happen, and he rushed really well the other night.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on going into the season highly ranked) – “I think it’s good. We finished top five last season. From a players perspective, you go, ‘Yeah, we’re top 10 now,’ but it doesn’t matter what the preseason rankings say, doesn’t matter about the watch list, the awards, everything that’s happened, because at the end of the day, nobody remembers what everyone was saying in the preseason. They remember what happened at the end of the season. So you can get caught up in all that, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. That’s the way I look at it. We’ve got to go out and take care of business and win a lot of football games.”

QB-Tyler Wilson (on Jacksonville State) – “I’ve definitely got a talk planned for Friday night, maybe even before then, about how these guys are going to be ready to go. This is one of their big games of the year, to come to Arkansas and play us. They’re going to give us they’re best shot, and we’re not going to take them lightly. This is a statement game for us. It’s the first time you guys are going to be able to see us live. And we’re going to put on a show.”

DE-Chris Smith (on Friday’s mock game) – “I think it went very well. We got after it a little bit. The main thing about a mock game is the preparation of how we do things at Arkansas, teaching the freshman how we get ready for a game, as far as stretching and warm ups. I think it went really well. It was the best one we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

DE-Chris Smith (on the look in RB-Knile Davis’ eyes in the scrimmage) – “I saw the look the whole day. I have a couple of classes with Knile and he was just focused the whole day. He was just different. Everybody was wondering how he was going to do. Knile is still Knile from what I saw Friday night. Everyone is excited to see what kind of show he is going to put on, and I know he is going to put on a show Saturday.”

DE-Chris Smith (on Jacksonville State beating Ole Miss two years ago) – “I heard about that. We just need to take one game at a time. Jacksonville State, they are going to be pumped up and ready to go and we are going to be pumped up and ready to go too. We are going to try, as Coach (Paul) Haynes says, try to make them one dimensional. Stop the run is our main thing with every team. We are going to try to stop the run first and make them one dimensional.”

DE-Chris Smith (on comparing fall camp to spring camp) – “It’s the itinerary. Every day is from six in the morning until 10:30 at night. You have to take one day at a time. In the spring we are in school still, but for camp, the first week we are in school and then when we get out of school and it is all football. Just take it one day at a time.”

DE-Chris Smith (on opening the season Saturday) – “I think it is going to be exciting. I was looking out there at the chairs and there have been a lot of season tickets bought. I think it is going to be exciting and everyone wants to see how we are going to respond. I’m excited. This week is going by slow to me. I think we will be ready offensively and defensively. We are ready to put on a show.”

DE-Chris Smith (on head coach John L. Smith’s coaching style) – “I love it. He is fired up every day. That is what we need to keep us going. When your leader is like that, when your head coach is fired up, why wouldn’t you be fired up? Coach Smith is a very funny guy and talks to us, not just as a coach but some teammates see him as a dad. Me being from so far away from home, he always jokes with me that if I make a bad play he is going to change my last name. He always jokes with me like that. Coach Smith is excited to be here and we are excited for him to be here. I can’t wait to go play for him in my first game on Saturday.”

DE-Chris Smith (on having a defensive head coach) – “It was real different. Coach Smith is a defensive-minded coach, and he is mostly with the defense. We are going to come out and play hard. He helps me a lot and Trey Flowers and our linebackers with how we do things. It is different but it will be good.”

DE-Chris Smith (on the mentality of playing under defensive coordinator Paul Haynes) – “As far as things that we are doing defensively, he always says that it is simple, but simple is not easy, as he always says. Coach Haynes is a great coach. He is not one of those coaches that just yells at us; he does a lot of teaching. He knows that he can’t coach everybody the same. There is a lot of teaching. Coach Haynes and Coach (Taver) Johnson help us a lot. I was excited last year, and people saw in the bowl game last year how things changed and how different we were as a defense. Even in the scrimmages in the spring and in camp, the Arkansas defense made a turnaround. We are going to keep going forward.”

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