FAYETTEVILLE — Junior wide receiver Mike Woods continues to shine for Arkansas with a big performance against LSU.
Woods caught four passes for 140 yards in a 27-24 loss to LSU. He also drew a pass interference call against an LSU defender that helped set up the Razorbacks’ touchdown scored by Feleipe Franks. Following the game, Woods talked about the game and his performance.
“Thoughts on the game, I mean, like I said, we can’t go 0 for 10 on third down,” Woods said. “We can’t put ourselves in non-manageable third-down situations. We’ve just got to execute at the end of the day. With that being said, we were still in a close game. Like I said every week, it’s on us. We’ve just got to go out and execute.
“On the big plays, that’s what you need in an SEC game, especially if you’re not doing anything on third down. You’ve just got to make plays in the SEC. That’s what it is, good players vs. good players.”
What were the problems that caused the offense do not convert a third down?
“I’m not sure, but you go 0 for 10 on third down, I mean, you’re asking for it,” Woods said. “We’ve just got to come back and go to work and do better on third down, and put ourselves in more manageable third-down situations. That’s probably a big part of it.”
Woods was coming off an outstanding performance against Florida. He has continued to make progress on his game during the season.
“I feel good, I feel confident, but I’ve always felt that way,” Woods said. “I’m glad now that it’s clicking, but we’ve got to get the win at the end of the day. We’ve got to go back to work. I’ve got to go back to work, because I’m sure there’s things I can get better at. I’ve got to watch the film and keep improving.”
His play hasn’t gone unnoticed by Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman.
“Well, he’s a competitor you know,” Pittman said. “He really has good hands. It takes a good receiver to win against a good corner, a good press corner. Mike’s big and he’s long and so he’s able to do that. So really proud of him. He works awful hard, the game means a lot to him and he wants the ball. He just continues to get better. He’s a go-to guy.”
This season, Woods has caught 27 passes for 553 yards and four touchdowns. As far as the offense in general this season they have either started very fast or very slow it seems.
“We’ve got big-play players on our team,” Woods said. “Our wideout room is full of big-play players, so is our running back room. And we’re a tempo offense, so everything is going to be clicking, anyway.”
The running game had been very effective the past couple of games, but without senior Rakeem Boyd they struggled against LSU. How much did that hamper the offense’s efforts against LSU?
“It obviously affects it because you need a running game,” Woods said. “It helps the passing game out, and it’s tough. But at the same time, the receivers, we always have the running backs’ back, and they’ve always got our back. So if we’re not on our game, we expect them to pick up the weight. Sometimes it’s got to be this group doing more to help this group out. That’s just football.”
Woods had a big 50-yard reception against LSU on Saturday. Did the team take enough deep shots today?
“What I saw, it was just man-to-man coverage,” Woods said. “When it’s man-to-man, I’m already looking at Coach (Kendal) Briles. I just went deep. You’ve got to make plays in this league. You’ve got to make plays and contested catches. I feel like that’s what we did today.”
Pittman talked about Woods’ big plays.
“It’s big,” Pittman said. “They had their corner get kicked out, ejected from the game for the head and Kendal immediately went over there with Mike and made two or three plays right there in the row. And when they switched corners on us and put the nickel out there. But he’s really done a nice job of catching the football.”
Pittman also discussed Arkansas not trying more deep passes considering the pass rush LSU was creating pressuring Franks.
“You know, I don’t know,” Pittman said. “On every play there’s somebody going deep, someone short and someone crossing. I don’t know that we didn’t attempt those balls. Early, I thought he was flushed a lot, so he really could set in there and throw the deep ball. But we wanted to go after their secondary and throw the ball deep. I know that was a big part of our game plan. But I think you’re right. I think we may have had one drive where we might have thrown the ball a little deeper early.
“And then in the second half, Mike attacked them twice in there. But to be honest with you, to throw the ball deep, you have to be able to protect it and I think we were a little bit concerned about dropping back there with their two edge rushers. So we wanted to try to do it and if you saw us take deep throws, Baz, I think for the most part it was on early downs.”
Now at 3-5, Woods was asked how the offense can improve the most to finish out the season.
“Everybody needs to improve, because even if I had a good game today, but if I don’t improve and don’t do anything in the future, then it’s like it didn’t even happen,” Woods said. “Everybody has to improve. The O-line, quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and receivers. Everybody has to improve or else we’re not going anywhere.”
The Hogs now have lost two games in a row following a win over Tennessee. Woods talked about how the team will emotionally handle the situation.
“Coach Pitt does a great job keeping our head on straight every week, and so does our strength staff, Coach (Jamil) Walker and his staff,” Woods said. “So, we’re going to come back tomorrow and go back to work. That’s what we always do. We’re just going to keep improving.”
Arkansas now faces Missouri on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Columbia and televised on the SEC Network. How do you think the team will bounce back?
“With a win,” Woods said.