FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore running back AJ Green was one of the few bright spots for Arkansas on Saturday as he had as he had 56 yards rushing on just six attempts.
The speedy former four-star recruit from Tulsa (Okla.) Union is third on the team in rushing with 61 carries for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He has caught a pair of passes for 45 yards. He has returned six kickoffs for 89 yards (14.8 avg) with a long of 34. He was more successful than SEC leading rusher Rocket Sanders on Saturday. Sanders had 17 carries for 60 yards.
“I would say obviously that Rocket is one of the best backs right now,” Green said. “A lot of yards, a lot of carries. He’s doing some good things in all the games we’ve played. He was probably a big key for them on defense, to stop him and we’ll be able to do this. That was probably a goal for them. They probably weren’t worried as much about the other backs in the game, so when we were throwing the other backs in, they didn’t know it was going to go and how we were going to read it and stuff. They were probably just keying on Rocket a lot.”
Green is the second-team back behind Sanders. He said Tuesday he wants to make sure he’s always ready when on the sideline and there to support his teammates.
“When I’m on the sideline and I’m waiting to get thrown into the game, I always want to make sure that I’m cheering on the team,” Green said. “When the defense is out there and makes a good play, I make sure I’m yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs. When the running backs and all the other players on offense make a play, I make sure I’m doing the same thing. Even on special teams.
“When I’m on the field, I try to talk to the players and make sure they’re keeping their head up when things are going the wrong way. I see it in a lot of other people as well on the sideline. They’re excited and stuff … But the way the game started, it was just a little shaky because it was unexpected. That kind of just took it away from us, really.”
It will be important with No. 7 LSU the opponent on Saturday that Arkansas has put the Liberty loss behind them. Green feels that is the case.
“I would say that it’s pretty much put behind us now,” Green said. “We came in yesterday, we watched the little bit of film that we needed to on that game and we just put it behind us. We went back to work yesterday and that was really all there was, going to work, get ready for this next game.”
While the Hogs may have overlooked Liberty there’s no chance they will do the same to SEC West leader LSU. Green talked about the challenge of facing the team that just beat Ole Miss and Alabama in its past two games.
“We know where they’re ranked right now and we know where we are, so it’s really just a matter of how hard we’re willing to work and trying to steal a game off of them and keep this run going so we can finish off the season good, get bowl eligible, keep the boot here and steal a game off LSU,” Green said.
Green, Sanders and the other players on Arkansas’ offense will go against an improving LSU defense. Green talked about what he has seen on film from the LSU defense.
“I would say their defense definitely flies around a lot,” Green said. “Their DBs are like bigger guys, 6-foot-2 guys, longer guys. I would probably say their corners are the biggest corners we’ve seen so far. It’s going to be good for our wide receivers to lock up on the perimeter for our run game and stuff like that. Their linebackers, they’re gap-sound, they’re going to fight over blocks and stuff. It’s going to be a good game. The defense is definitely going to be something that we’ve got to work through and be able to fight with. It’s going to be a fight on the offensive side of the ball.”
Green and the Hogs will host LSU for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday morning. The game will be televised on ESPN.