FAYETTEVILLE — The national media that was so quick to dismiss Arkansas in preseason now are making the Hogs the toast of the SEC.
It wasn’t that the pessimism concerning Razorback Football was unwarranted. They were 1-23 in the last 24 SEC games. But they are 2-2 this fall and only a blown call at Auburn away from being 3-1. Junior wide receiver Mike Woods isn’t surprised at all with Arkansas’ success.
“No, this is what we expected,” Woods said. “We should have never been 2-10 to be honest with you. This is what we expect. We never expect to be the laughingstock. We’re supposed to beat these teams. That’s our mindset going into this year. We know what we’ve got and we know what we’re supposed to do. As long as we go out and execute, we’re going to be good.”
Being a part of back-to-back 2-10 seasons how does it feel to be a part of this turnaround?
“It feels good to win,” Woods said. “It’s just fun to win. Like, after you win, nobody’s feeling bad, nobody’s arguing. When you lose all season, that’s when stuff like that gets magnified. Little issues get magnified. But when you’re winning, it’s good. We can go in here, we can fix it, and just move on.”
The team is getting a lot of love with the national media. What’s your thoughts on that?
“It’s cool, but we don’t feed too much into that cause a year ago they were saying a lot of negative things about us,” Woods said. “So I mean we just want them keep that same energy, stay over there, and we’re just going to keep working and doing what we’re supposed to do and just play our football and play to our standard every week no matter what they say, underdog whatever, just play our standard and we’re going to be fine at the end of the game.”
Count Woods among those that saw some things early on in camp that this team had a chance to be pretty good.
“Yeah, it was honestly earlier, like when our new coaching staff first got here,” Woods said. “You could just tell the coaching they were putting in, the strength staff, once they got a hold of us, how our bodies started to change. Just our buy-in during workouts. They didn’t have to tell us to finish these reps. We were doing extra on our own. So I just knew then we started buying in.
“And then we moved in to actually getting on the field and running things, we were all buying in. Everybody was doing the extra stuff, staying after, coming in before. Stuff like that. So we already knew it was going to happen.”
Arkansas lost its opener to Georgia, but has won two of its last three games. Now the team gets an open date. Some teams prefer to continue playing when they are hot. Woods talked about the timing of the open date.
“I think the open date came at a great time,” Woods said. “People have been trying to put us on a high horse and stuff like that, but it gives us some time to come back down to earth and take some time off. Get our bodies right. Get some people back and just focus. Sit down and focus on the next game. Focus on A&M and so it’s a good week to get our bodies back and just get focused for the next game.”
The defense has been outstanding so far this season. How does that fuel the offense?
“It feels good seeing them,” Woods said. “We just know that they’ve got our backs no matter what. So we play loose. We know at the end of the day they’re giving us extra possessions. So it feels good to see them go out and have our backs. We just know when they do that, we’ve got to reward them every time and turn it into some points.”
Like fans and media, Woods was impressed with Treylon Burks’ one-handed catch for a touchdown against Ole Miss.
“It was a great catch,” Woods said. “We all knew he was going to come down with it. He does that in practice. I don’t know why they reviewed it. To me, it didn’t even look close on the field. His foot was down. It was a great toe-tap and it was a great catch.”
The group of receivers have been very supportive of each other and often the first there to congratulate the other following a score.
“We all understand as a group and as a team, when the team eats, everybody eats regardless,” Woods said. “If the whole team is eating and doing good, then everybody’s going to get their chances to shine. It ain’t no jealousy or animosity.
“I’m happy for them (when others make big play, score). We work on this every day, so if we go out there and execute it, it feels great for everybody.”
Sophomore Trey Knox struggled against Auburn and only played briefly against Ole Miss. How is he doing?
“He’s doing good,” Woods said. “He was obviously, as any player would, he’s been a little down after the Auburn game. I pulled him to the side and talked to him. You just have to come out and have a good week of practice bro because if you practice hard in practice you show them that you can execute that in the week. And it’s just going to build your confidence throughout the week. Get your confidence back and make sure you’re healthy and make sure you can cut, catch, all that and just get your confidence back throughout the week. So you go out on gameday and you’re not thinking about any of that you’re just playing. So he’s feeling alright.”
Arkansas will next play Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 6:30 p.m. Woods knows the Hogs have a long losing streak against the Aggies and wants that to stop on Halloween night.
“I’ve pretty much made it clear how I feel about this game and Texas A&M in general,” Woods said. “Being from Magnolia, Texas, right down the road, a lot of people go there [to A&M]. At my high school, everybody’s A&M fans, so I feel strongly about this game about this team. We’ve just got to go out there and execute, and we’ll be alright.”
Is the offense ready to go on the road and face a Top 10 team?
“We embrace every single challenge,” Woods said. “Every week going into the game, people are going to doubt us and people are going to say this and that. But we embrace playing these teams. we embrace whoever is across from us. We respect them, but we also know if we execute and we do what we’re supposed to do and play our game they can’t guard us. Nobody in my opinion can guard us as long as we execute.”
This season, Woods has 14 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown.