FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas is off to its worst start since 1992, when the Razorbacks also were 1-4.
The Razorbacks are off to one of their worst starts, period, second only to the 1958 team that began the season 0-5 in Frank Broyles' first year.
But Arkansas coach John L. Smith, quarterback Tyler Wilson and defensive tackle Alfred Davis continued to insist Monday the Razorbacks haven't thrown in the towel even after its embarrassing 58-10 loss at Texas A&M last Saturday. Arkansas (1-4, 0-2 in SEC) is instead preparing to play at Auburn (1-3, 0-2) on Saturday.
Here are a few things we learned from today's media opportunity as Auburn week begins:
• Injuries remain a problem — Smith said there's no clarity on the status of injured tight end Chris Gragg, safety Eric Bennett and cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew. Gragg and Bennett missed the Texas A&M game, while Kelleybrew was injured during the game. They'll be monitored throughout the week. Arkansas also is dealing with injuries to safety Rohan Gaines and running back Dennis Johnson, who broke his hand before the Texas A&M game. Smith said both players should be available Saturday. Smith said Arkansas is dealing with the injuries as best as possible: “Some years I guess you just get guys hurt and some years you don’t. But it’s not an excuse. We have to live with what we have."
• Auburn a "decent matchup" — No game is easy when you're 1-4 (which includes 0-4 against FBS opponents). But Smith believes Auburn's offense could be a "decent matchup" for an Arkansas defense that has struggled. The Tigers have had their own issues this season, averaging just 17.5 points and 297.8 yards a game. Auburn won't have Quan Bray, its second-leading receiver, either. So we see Smith's point. Then again, Auburn feels like it has a "decent matchup" against Arkansas' anemic defense. We'll see which one wins Saturday.
• Arkansas learning life lessons — No one is having fun during Arkansas' losing skid. Davis said he's not happy, but there is something to gain from the disappointment and said it should serve as motivation to keep plugging away. "It's a life experience," Davis said. "We are all coaches players, staff, the players everyone going to take something away from this. We have faced adversity in the past and yes, it's tough but we can't just run away from it."
• Youth affecting defense — Arkansas isn't looking to make excuses for its defensive woes, but Davis had a thought on what went wrong for the Hogs on Saturday. Young players were put in pressure situations and struggled to perform. We'll let Davis explain in his own way: "I think back to when I was a young redshirt freshman and getting to play my first SEC football game. I was goggly-eyed when we played Georgia here. And we were at home. Some of those guys had to go on the road to Texas A&M, new to the conference and play their first on the road SEC football game. Oh, man! It's just kinda, sorta overwhelming for some of them after awhile."
• Arkansas' goal? Just get one win — Remember when Arkansas had big plans for 2012? Smith was asked if Arkansas has revamped its goals after starting 1-4 and summed it up pretty quickly: "We’ve got one goal and that’s to go get a win. And at this point, that’s the only thing we should be thinking about. You know all this other stuff, the hypes and all that stuff, and all this and all that are all gone, so let’s worry about go getting a win."
This wasn't all we learned of course. Plenty more material to be spread over the week as Arkansas tries to figure out how to get at win Saturday.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau