FAYETTEVILLE — It will be No. 8 Arkansas at No. 2 Georgia on Saturday in Athens and running back Trelon Smith is anxious for the game.
The Bulldogs defeated the Hogs last year with a strong second half to open the 2020 season. Smith knows the Bulldogs will present a strong defense to the Arkansas offense.
“Georgia’s defense, it kind of reminds me of our defense,” Smith said. “They run to the ball, they hit, they’ve got a lot of size up front. That’s where practice comes in, starting yesterday we went out there and planned on executing. We’ve got to execute on all cylinders. The O-line has got to be physical, real physical this week. We’ve got to have a run game. We’ve got to create a run game, we’ve got to get that going. We’ve got to get first downs. We know what Georgia’s defense looks like, we know what they bring to the table. We’re just preparing for them.”
This season, Smith leads the Razorbacks in rushing with 59 carries for 298 yards and three touchdowns. He also has one reception for 10 yards. He feels like Kendal Briles will have the right plays called against the Bulldogs.
“I feel like Kendal Briles, he’s going to have a great game plan going into the Georgia game,” Smith said. “He always finds a way to get the defense off balance with motion, movement, tempo, moving fast, getting the first, first down. So, I feel like Coach Briles is going to be Coach Briles. He’s going to be himself. He’s going to gather up a game plan and we’re going to go out there and execute.”
He topped the Arkansas rushing chart last week in the 20-10 win over then No. 7 Texas A&M. Smith rushed 17 times for 82 yards. That game allowed him to go over the career 1,000-yard rushing mark at Arkansas. Smith has rushed 193 times for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns with the Hogs.
“I actually did find out that I reached the 1,000-yard mark last week,” Smith said. “Just blessed, truly blessed. I just plan on keep running, keep gaining more yards. This weekend, that’s my goal, just run hard and keep racking them up. Try to hit 2,000, then next 3,000. So my whole mindset is to just keep doing what I’m doing and execute on a high level each week.”
With the speed SEC teams have on defense Smith is being asked to run between tackles a little more. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Smith talked about that following Tuesday’s practice.
“The speed in the SEC is unbelievable,” Smith said. “You’ve got D-ends who can get to the sidelines fast. You’ve got linebackers who are good running side-to-side. When I play ball, especially in the SEC, I think about getting vertical as fast as possible. I want to get vertical as fast as possible even on the outside zone play. Even though I’m running outside zone, once I see it, I hit it. That’s my main focus. With us being in the SEC, it’s a powerful game. They’re going to tackle, they’re going to come to hit. So, I just prepare myself to get vertical and get what I can get.”
Sam Pittman said during his Monday meeting with the media that the trip to Dallas was freshman running back AJ Green’s first time to ever fly. Anyone have to talk to him before the flight?
“No, AJ, he handled it pretty well,” Smith said. “This was his first time flying, but you know once the plane was in the air the jitters went away. He was perfectly fine.”
Last season entering the Georgia game not much was expected from Arkansas. This year it pits No. 8 against No. 2. How exciting is this for you?
“Me, personally, I’m very excited,” Smith said. “I’ve never been to Georgia, so this will be my first trip down into Georgia. From what I’m hearing, I know it’s going to be a heck of an environment. There’s going to be a lot of people. They say, over 100,000 people.
“They’re undefeated and ranked No. 2, so the opportunity is definitely there for us to showcase what we can do and beat them. If you ask me, I’m just excited as well. I can’t wait to go out there and just have fun.”
Arkansas and Georgia will kickoff at 11 a.m. CT and televised on ESPN.