Freshmen De’Anthony Curtis and Dennis Johnson got the bulk of the carries in practice, and the two of them will be counted on to pick up the slack if Smith isn’t available this weekend.
Smith, the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher, missed the final minutes of last Saturday’s 21-20 loss at Kentucky after suffering a concussion. He finished with 35 carries for a career-high 192 yards and one touchdown.
“I sure want him to be available, but we just don’t know,” Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton said about Smith’s status. “Of course, (Tuesday) he didn’t do anything at all, and we’ll just have to kind of wait and see.”
Junior Brandon Barnett, who has carried the football only twice this season for zero yards, also got limited work in practice.
But Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino sounded confident that Smith could be over his concussion in time to play Saturday night.
“I think he’s doing better,” Petrino said. “They held him out (Tuesday), but from what I hear, everyone is real optimistic that things are going to be real good.”
Meanwhile, backup quarterback Tyler Wilson missed Tuesday’s practice because of an undisclosed reason.
Getting Over Fumble
Curtis has spent the past few days dealing with more than just the possibility of getting his first career start.
The freshman running back has also tried to get over his costly fumble in the final minutes of last Saturday’s loss at Kentucky.
With Arkansas holding onto a 20-7 lead, Curtis fumbled the football on a first down with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining. Kentucky recovered the loose ball at the Arkansas 41 and scored a touchdown two plays later.
“I tried to put it behind me. It was hard to put it behind me, but coach (Bobby Petrino) told me that you’re going to make mistakes,” Curtis said. “I tried to put that behind the next drive and try to do the best I can right now.
“It’s just something you’ve got to forget about.”
Horton said Curtis had a difficult time getting over the fumble at first, but the freshman has moved on since then.
“Obviously, it was a tough Saturday night for him and we’re all licking our wounds a little,” Horton said. “But it’s over and we’ve got to put it behind us and he had a good practice (Tuesday).”
Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams didn’t run gingerly in practice like he did last week when he was slowed by a knee injury.
Williams said he felt “real good” as he caught passes, giving him confidence that he’ll be at full strength this weekend against Ole Miss.
“I even felt fast, so you know, that feels pretty good,” Williams said. “Like I said, I expect to come out and play 100 percent.”
Despite being Arkansas’ leading receiver, Williams didn’t catch a single pass in the Kentucky loss. It was the first time this season that the tight end didn’t have a single reception in a game.
But Williams looked more like his old self in practice.
“He looked night-and-day better (Tuesday) than he did last week,” Paul Petrino said. “So that was real encouraging.”
On The Return
With Smith’s status for Saturday’s game still uncertain, freshman Jarius Wright appears to be the front-runner to be Arkansas’ primary punt returner against Ole Miss.
Horton, who also coaches Arkansas’ return men, said Wright and fellow freshmen Dennis Johnson and Joe Adams will compete in practice this week for the chance to return punts.
“Right now, if we had to play today, it would be Jarius Wright, though,” Horton said.