FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore Trelon Smith leads the team in rushing this season, but now he will really be expected to carry the load with the news that senior Rakeem Boyd has opted out of the final two games.
Smith leads the team rushing for 469 yards and two touchdowns on 89 attempts. He has caught 20 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. On Tuesday night following practice, Smith talked about his role now with Boyd’s departure.
“Coming in, you know I’m always prepared to be prepared so,” Smith said. “But I feel the most improved is my pass blocking, my pass protection, picking up on blitzes, picking up on cornerback blitzes. Just noticing where it’s coming from.”
Smith talked about his reaction when he heard the news of Boyd opting out.
“You know I felt he made the best decision for himself but me personally when I heard it was simple, I just told myself, ‘It’s time to step up to the plate,’” Smith said. “I’ve been preparing for this moment for the longest and I’ll be ready most definitely.”
Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks has complete confidence in Smith to lead the group of running backs.
“Yeah, I think we have a group of guys, with Rakeem and now Rakeem leaving, that are really good at a position,” Franks said. “I think that shows throughout a season. Those guys have been really good throughout all fall camp, all since then and all throughout the season. Those guys have been good when somebody goes down. They step up, and it’s been like that dealing with injuries. That room is confident.”
Arkansas also has senior T.J. Hammonds and true freshman Dominique Johnson as well as Donte Buckner, a true freshman walk-on. With Boyd being injured some earlier as well as missing due some COVID issues Smith has developed good chemistry already with Franks.
“Aw man, I feel like when it’s time for me and Feleipe to step out there on the field this coming Saturday, we’ll be clicking on all levels,” Smith said. “Me and Feleipe we’ve got a real good connection. We do a good job of communicating in the backfield. I feel like it should be smooth. It should be a smooth game for me and Feleipe.”
With Boyd missing the LSU game due to COVID issues, the running game didn’t click against LSU in Arkansas’ last outing. What happened in that game?
“Personally if you want to be honest, we just had a bad game up front and we just had a bad game the whole game really in the run game really,” Smith said. “We saw some things that we didn’t adjust to, and I feel like coming into this next game we’ll do a better job of adjusting and just out-physicaling these guys. I feel like we weren’t as physical as LSU was and that was a major role in it. We’ve just got to out-physical these guys this coming weekend.”
What does the offensive line and rest of offense have to do against Missouri what it didn’t do against LSU?
“I won’t say it wasn’t nothing they (offensive line) didn’t do,” Smith said. “I would just say effort. They’ve just got to strain more and we all gotta strain more. Not just them. Everybody. The receivers blocking on the perimeter. Me blocking myself, protecting the quarterback. Feleipe making his reads. We’ve all got to capitalize. We’re a whole out there. I wouldn’t say it’s just them. But they’re going to have to strain. They’re going to have to fight. They’re going to have to fight and push and just be physical. We’ve got to beat them.”
Boyd was one of two captains on offense along with Boyd. He was asked about losing Boyd’s leadership?
“I think that just being in that situation, that’s kind of his decision and his … so, I think we have guys on the team who are leaders as well,” Franks said. “Even when it was just four getting voted captains, that’s not the only leaders that we have on the team by no means. That’s a continual thing throughout the season that more and more leaders emerge. With all four of us up there being captains, there’s more than just us leaders on the team as well. That’s something that has shown throughout the season as well at all position groups.”
Hammonds has three carries for 24 yards and one reception for 51. Johnson hasn’t had any carries to this point.
Arkansas and Missouri will kickoff Saturday at 11 a.m. and televised on the SEC Network.