State of the Hogs: Media Hype

Tyler Wilson

Are the Razorbacks going to pay a price for losing Bobby Petrino? Some may think the Hogs have lost some value as far as national rankings with Petrino's termination. Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis had slightly different takes, but it was clear it's not a concern.

Arkansas be ranked high going into the season. Sports Illustrated has an early poll that has the Razorbacks No. 12.

But that may not be as high as some might have had the Hogs two months ago before Bobby Petrino was terminated and John L. Smith was given a 10-month contract as head coach. The Hogs finished last year at No. 5 and return a lot of key players, including quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis.

"That kind of fires me up a little bit," Wilson said. "I don't know why that would happen, us slip. But I guess it's because there is the feeling that you lost the guy in a way got us there. From the outside looking in, obviously, (Petrino) was the master mind behind the organization.

"He's the guy who knew the plays, put it in structure and then kept it in structure. From the outside looking in, you lost that. Obviously, some might think that because of that you might lose a couple of more games.

"Me, from the inside who has been a part of it, I'd say we have just as much of a chance that we did before. We have coaches that are inspired and want to do a good job. They have a reason to want to do well because they want to stay here at Arkansas. We still know the structure and that's how we are operating.

"We've got a head coach that's excited to come back and take advantage of this opportunity. He knows the structure and believes in it. Some of it was his. We've got a group of guys that are really wanting to prove a lot of people wrong. We are closer because of it."

What does Davis think of that?

"First, I'm not a big media hype guy," Davis said. "I don't pay much attention to that part. It doesn't bother me because I don't worry about it. I don't participate in any of that.

"The season will tell the story. Just wait on the season. The season will tell you everything you need to know about this team. The summer hype doesn't matter. What's important will happen on the field and we are the ones in control of that, not the media."

Some of that may depend on the defensive development under new coordinator Paul Haynes. That's where the biggest losses from last year have hit. How did the defense look in the spring? Offensive players might get the best look at what's going on with the defense.

"Good, real good," Davis said. "That defensive line is really good. And I know that the defense got better when Tenarius Wright moved to linebacker. He was a good addition there. I liked that a lot.

"We didn't get to see Alonzo Highsmith over there, but you know what he can do. I like what I saw on defense."

Wilson agreed. He said Haynes asked him about the things that make it tough for a quarterback to operate against this style of defense.

"I told him that a quarterback wants to take shots down the field, but you better not against this defense," Wilson said. "It wears on you. They are going to make you drive it. They are going to make you take the check downs. That's tough on a quarterback because you don't want to do that. It's not in your nature. You want to try for a little more than that.

"I think they got better. They tackled well this spring and in the bowl game. I saw them getting better during the bowl game. The first few days of spring, they were learning new terminology but they got that down pretty quick. I like this defense."

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