Arkansas had a pretty clean game defensively against Texas A&M, but the mistakes they did make cost them big time. The Razorbacks will try to play with the same attitude this week just eliminating the mistakes they made.
The special teams could get a boost on Saturday as well with true freshman Montaric Brown possibly playing. Brown was a 4-star safety recruit in this past February's class, but didn't report until school started while clearing up some academic things he had to do. Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez thinks Brown could play against New Mexico State.
"Right now, they have him on special teams," Ramirez said. "As of lately, I know he's still working with Coach (Paul) Rhoads and the defensive staff getting the game plan down. But I haven't heard anything about him coming into the game plan yet. I believe they're working him slowly but surely as I see that they've got him on special teams this week. That's a good start for him and we're going to see where it goes from there."
So he'll play on special teams?
"Yeah, I believe he's going to play on special teams," Ramirez said.
Arkansas' other safety, senior Josh Liddell, is looking forward to trying to clean up the mistakes that kept the defense from turning in a very good performance against Texas A&M.
"We were very disappointed in that game," Liddell said. "You won't see it by the scoreboard but we played a good defensive game. Just two plays here and another play there with a missed gap or bust in coverage. But overall we had two missed tackles and maybe seven busts, but overall that's a clean game. But the mistakes we made were the plays they scored on. So we just want to be more efficient and play mistake free football."
One player the defense will get back this week for sure is senior nickel back Kevin Richardson. He was only in for a few plays against Texas A&M due to an ankle injury. But he is back and ready to go this week which pleases Liddell who played the nickel in Richardson's absence last week.
"It's huge," Richardson said. "Having his experience back there for us gives us more depth. Having him in there with the experience he has is big for us."
Ramirez was asked how the team has bounced back from the disappointing loss to Texas A&M?
"It hurt," Ramirez said. "It did, man. But like I always tell them, champions never hang their head down. You're going to have adversity and people that doubt and everything else, but at the end of the day we know what we've got to do in order to get better. We have to keep going. It's only been three games. You can't let that loss keep us all the way down.
"We have to continue to build and build and build. We watched film and it's not the things that people are doing to us, it's always what we're doing to ourselves. So, we have to just constantly, each and every day, come out and improve. I stay on all them boys that we've got to improve. If we don't it's going to be a long season."
So you feel good about the team bouncing back this week?
"I believe we're going to come out and get this dub," Ramirez said. "I really do believe that. I believe we're going to come out here and execute like we're supposed to and we're going to put together a complete game on all three phases."
As one of the captains do you feel some responsibility for helping get this team mentally ready to play this week?
"I do feel that responsibility and I take that with everything," Ramirez said. "I don't like to see my teammates get down when things get tough. That's not just in football but in life as well. You can't ever just hang your head. You have to make sure that you continue to champion adversity. You have to continue to push forward and strive for greatness. I make sure that my team ... I echo that each and every day. Improve, improve. Clock in and get ready to work, because you never know what can happen next in this game."
Junior inside linebacker Dre Greenlaw had 14 tackles against Texas A&M to tie for the team lead and also added a pass breakup. Greenlaw talked about Arkansas playing a pretty clean game on defense, but still giving up 50 points. The Aggies scored 24 points on four of the busts alone.
"Yeah small number," Greenlaw said. "Man, that just tells you that every play matters. You go into a 70-play game and you mess up three or four times, those three or four plays might cost you the game. You've just got to really just do a good job of executing throughout the week and do a good job of executing."
Arkansas and New Mexico State will kickoff at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.