Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Arkansas ready to compete despite offseason distractions

Arkansas head coach John L. Smith has a lot to be excited about. He has a new job, the team he’s coaching, and the players that comprise that team.

But what he’s most excited about is something that should have Arkansas fans everywhere feeling the same way. That is a national title.

“We have one goal,” Smith said. “And we’re not bashful about reiterating that goal. Our goal is to win in Miami. Our goal is to be a national championship football team. And that’s what we want to get done.”

For Smith, the first step toward that goal was to overcome the incident in which Petrino was fired from his position for having an affair with an intern.

“This is a program,” Smith said. “This isn’t about somebody leaving, somebody coming in, any of that stuff. This is a program. This is one program. And we’re all a part of it, as players, as coaches, as fans, as a school body, we all have to relish our position of being a part of this program.”

Still, Smith said he believe the team has made the transition as well as they could, and would be able to move past the incident in 2012.

Indeed, Smith said he himself didn’t feel any additional pressure from coming in in that situation.

“You kind of have to be like a duck and let the water roll off your back,” Smith said. “But as coaches, we all put pressure on ourselves. So that pressure comes from within. That pressure comes from in those doors, in those staff meetings, from what we expect to get done.”

Smith said he has big expectations for his team, which he said has a legitimate shot at the national title. But for his team to get there, Smith said the team would have to get over two huge obstacles on its schedule: Alabama and LSU.

Smith said his team would have to overcome the mindset that these teams are unbeatable.

“I think that comes back to what takes place in spring,” Smith said. “What takes place in summer, what takes place before you line up with those guys. So …believe we can compete, and beat those guys. And I think our kids do.”

To help in that process, Arkansas will be able to rely on its talented offense. The Razorbacks return an offense that ranked first in the SEC in both total and scoring offense. The return of Knile Davis from injury will also help boost the run game, and while the Razorbacks lose their top receivers from last year, quarterback Tyler Wilson should continue to be a force for the offense.

For Smith, the entire offense will rotate on his quarterback.

“Tyler’s awesome,” Smith said. “He’s exuding confidence now. There’s a guy that’s all of a sudden, he’s just starting to blossom, and exude confidence. I think he’s very, very confident and at home in what it is we’re doing on the offensive side of the ball.”

Smith said he would like to see some more help from the defensive side of the ball as well, but, overall, said he was confident his team would have a good season.

“I know we have a real good football team,” Smith said. “That possibly, with our capabilities, could be a great football team.”

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