LOWELL – As two starters in an improving Arkansas secondary, true freshmen Quincey McAdoo and sophomore Jayden Johnson are looking to end the regular season strong and get a third bowl invitation in as many years.
The defenders, who are also roommates, shared that viewpoint Thursday night as the featured guests at premier of the second season of the Hawg Trough Players Show, which is held at The Grove Comedy Club in Lowell and hosted by Hogville.net sports writer Dudley E. Dawson.
“It just took a lot of meeting with coaches and talking to teammates a lot on each play because a lot of people had to move around to positions they had not worked at during camp because of people got hurt,” Johnson said.
“I would also say everybody staying together and just because we lost, not letting down. I think we did a great job of blocking out the noise. Actually some people on our team actually look at what the fans say and just use it to add more fire to their game.”
That is the same sentiment shared by McAdoo, who ironically had the second grade Holly Grove teacher as The Grove owner Bill Adams did 50 years ago.
“It was a matter of sticking together, picking your teammate up and looking ahead and not behind,” McAdoo said. “Just control what we can control and not worry about the past.”
The Razorbacks (5-5, 2-4) will host Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2) Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium in a game that will be televised by the SEC Network.
The Arkansas secondary, beset by injuries, took a lot of criticism early but only is part of a defense that has only allowed one touchdown in the last six quarters.
“I don’t think it is very hard to shut people out and just focus on what you have got to do,” Johnson said. “I think it was just more of not wanting to lose and just making the fans proud, our families and the team. I feel like that is what we are striving to do.”
Johnson feels like going up against his own team’s offense this season has helped in preparation for Ole Miss, coming in off a xx-xx home loss to Alabama.
The Rebels have rushed for an average of 259 yards and passed for 225 this season.
“It is a lot of the same stuff that our offense does,” Johnson said. “I think it the same stuff they have been doing the last few years, but I do think that are going to try and run the ball more.”
McAdoo, who had an interception and blocked a punt for a safety in his first start against Liberty, is impressed with Ole Miss’s wide receivers.
“They do like to run the ball a lot , but they do also have some very good athletes at wide receiver that we have to lock down,” McAdoo said.
McAdoo, former Clarendon star and Holly Grove native, was recruited to Arkansas as a wide receiver, but has played defense all his life.
“I always played defense coming up in high school from pee wee ball and middle school ball,” McAdoo said. “…So the transition really wasn’t that hard for me.
“Really, it was the week of the Alabama game when I dislocated my thumb. I am not the type of guy that likes to sit around and do nothing so I went to the coaches and ask ‘do you think I could possibly help on the defensive side?’
The 19-year-old Johnson had been impressed with what he has seen from the 17-year-old McAdoo.
“He picks up on a lot of things quick,” Johnson said. “He’ll make a play in practice, but if he does something wrong I am going to be on him…He is just playing and having fun and being an athlete.
McAdoo and Johnson are part of several youngsters that are part of the current Arkansas secondary, including true freshmen Jaylin Lewis and Anthony Brown.
“I feel like our young guys are getting better every day,” Johnson said. “If they need to know something, they are asking about it. I feel like that is going to help us for after this season.”
McAdoo originally committed to Florida State and head coach Mike Norvell before flipping to Arkansas and head coach Sam Pittman.
“I had clicked with Ron Dugans and Coach Norvell and it is still nothing but love for that staff,” McAdoo said. “But when I really sit down and thought about it, I didn’t want to play football 10 hors from home and my mom have to drive all that way and only come to one or two games out of the season.
“…Plus I always grew up a Razorback fan and it was hard to escape the Hogs. It was something that I wanted to do.”
Johnson was committed to South Carolina before flipping to Arkansas.
“I was committed to South Carolina, but the coaches left and I decide to de-commit,” Johnson said. “I just sit and prayed about it and talked to my parents and my brothers and ended up here.”
McAdoo also talked about Dax Courtney, his former Clarendon teammate and Razorbacks signee, a tight end who had to medially retire because of injuries.
“I hated it for Dax when he had to medically retired because we came in basically with the same goal – small town Arkansas kids that made it to a big platform and it was our dream realized,” McAdoo said. “It wasn’t his fault and I feel really bad for him because it wasn’t fault. He is such a good person.”
Johnson and McAdoo know that winning one of the next two games will get the program a bowl berth and 15 additional practices that will help the younger guys.
“Coach is always talking about stealing practices,” Johnson said. “I think that is a big jump on things and those practices get to focus on them.”