Thursday Grid Update, 11/15

John L. Smith

Arkansas will have one more weapon in action against Mississippi State. Running back Knile Davis is expected to play, head coach John L. Smith said Thursday.

Arkansas head coach John L. Smith didn't get any birthday presents Thursday, but he did say he expects to have running back Knile Davis back for the first time in three weeks.

Davis has been bothered by a hamstring injury, but he made it through the week's practice with no real soreness or problems and will play Saturday when the Hogs visit the Bulldogs in Starkville for an 11:21 a.m. start.

"He's a lot better and he will play," Smith said when asked about Davis. "He's ready. He said he's ready."

Smith was asked if Davis is "limited" in any way with the hamstring.

"He's not limited," he said. "If he was, he wouldn't play."



Smith confirmed it was his birthday, but said he doesn't count them any more and just ignores suggestions that he should. For the record, he's 64.

"I try to forget them now," he said. "But I guess it's a great day, an awesome day. But I try to forget it's my birthday. I just want us to go to Starkville, play hard and get a win."

Smith said there were no cakes, no presents. He said he did take a little break during the day to walk the steps outside his office for exercise.

"That's how I celebrated, I did the steps," he said. "But I do that every day, just some cardio."

Smith said it's not unusual to skip his birthday. He said his wife's birthday was two days ago.

"Really, we do the birthday thing on her day," he said. "One good story, we were born two days apart in the same hospital. I have always said that she's an old lady."

Smith said it's been a good week, despite the birthdays.

"I think we prepared well," he said. "Now, we just have to get up in the morning, travel and then go play and get a win. We need to see if we can't go send these seniors out the right way these last two weeks. That's been our theme in practice all week."

Smith was asked about senior linebacker Terrell Williams, suspended last week after an alcohol-related charge. Smith said Williams would not play this week, but there is "a chance" he could in the finale against LSU.

"He's still working on it," Smith said of Williams, who toiled on the scout team this week. "There's a chance -- I'd hope his parents can come and they can experience senior day. So there is a chance."

Smith said the maturation process continues for freshmen linebackers A. J. Turner and Otha Peters, the starters last week.

"It's a constant process," Smith said. "They get better each week. You notice the improvement. They play with more discipline with their eyes. What we have to continue to get is the eye control so they are good in the run fits.

"I think one of the keys is stopping the run this week. The last three weeks that (MSU) has lost, they haven't rushed for 100 yards. The play of their quarterback is really good, but we need to limit their running game. We also want to limit the pass, too. But the running game is a big key."

Smith noted that he's still trying to make a decision on whether or not D'Arthur Cowan, a freshman wideout from Mississippi, will return kickoffs. He's worked at that spot all week with Kaelon Kelleybrew taking the repetitions at punt return.

"Cowan has done some things in games and he's looked good this week," Smith said. "Before tonight, he had been correct in everything. As far as games, he's played. He's got great explosive ability."

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