Arkansas coach John L. Smith took his turn on the SEC coaches teleconference this morning. MSU (7-3, 3-3 SEC) will host the Razorbacks (4-6, 2-4) at 11:21 a.m. Saturday (SEC Network). Here are some highlights from Smith’s chat.
On QB Tyler Wilson’s strong numbers despite losing WRs Joe Adams and Jarius Wright:
“He’s not had let’s say the variety and wideouts of a year ago. He’s been singled out. That’s why he’s gone to Cobi (Hamilton) more. … He’s done a much better job this year than even a year ago because of the fact he has not had that group to throw to.“
On Wilson drawing confidence from last year’s performance vs. MSU (365 yards, 3 TDs):
“He has confidence regardless. He’s preparing himself such. Your confidence comes with the preparation and your ability to go out and make it happen.”
What has this year been like for you emotionally?
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. It’s been one of those years. Again, you kind of look at it as little bit of a perfect storm this year. The thing about it is it’s been great coming to work every day and our guys work hard. The great thing about every day is you get to work with these guys, you get to go to the field with them and we get to grow. … It’s been a year I’m thankful I’ve had and I’m thankful I’m around these guys and with these guys. I just wish it could have been better. Hopefully we can make it good with these last couple of games.”
Do you think you will appreciate this year more as time goes on?
“Without a doubt. The lessons learned are not only for myself and for the staff, but for the players. When we try to express that to them weekly. Football is a game of life and these are the lessons of life we are learning. The great thing, again, about these guys is they have not hung their head, they have not disbanded by any means. They have hung int here and they are hanging in there together.”
Have you settled on a kick returner? (Arkansas ranks last in the SEC in kickoff return yardage.)
“As of right now, yes. (Kaelon) Kelleybrew will probably be the guy back there. Dennis (Johnson) can still do kickoffs as well, as you know. We’ve been working mainly with Kelleybrew as the punt guy, as well as some kick returns we’ll work on today.”