HOOVER, Ala. – Though the Arkansas football program fired head coach Bobby Petrino this spring, the confidence in the Razorback locker room is still an all-time high.
“We just came off one of the best seasons in Arkansas history, and we are looking to build on that this season, and we will,” said Tyler Wilson, who will be returning as starting quarterback in 2012.
Wilson was recently voted as the 2012 SEC Coaches Pre-Season All-SEC First Team quarterback.
He is coming off of a season where he completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,638 yards.
Knile Davis, a 6-foot, 200-pound running back who also was named to the 2012 SEC Coaches Pre-Season All-SEC First Team, echoed his quarterback’s sentiments.
“The confidence is through the roof,” Davis said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “We have a lot of confidence; we have a lot of great pieces, now we just have to put it all together. I know we can do that.”
The confidence is surprising for a team that will now be led by a man—John L. Smith—who has not been the head coach of a football program since he was at Michigan State in 2006.
The Arkansas players, however, will have no trouble believing in “John L.”
“I don’t call him John L. to his face,” senior inside linebacker Tenarius Wright. “But we trust in the athletic department, and when they told us they went with John L., we knew it would be a good outcome.”
John L. Smith has spent the last three seasons as the special teams coordinator for the Razorbacks, and recently signed a 10-month contract — something that Smith says will not cause any added stress.
“I've never been a big believer that the outside pressure has anything we can control. You have to be like a duck and let that water roll off your back. As coaches we all put pressure on ourselves,” Smith said. “That pressure comes from within, within those doors, staff meetings, in what we expect to get done. And we have a lot of pressure, yes, because we're going to put that on ourselves because we're expecting do have great things happen to us.”
The Razorbacks are coming off an 11-2 campaign — their highest win total since joining the Southeastern conference in 1992.
So, despite the roller coaster ride that has been the 2012 offseason for the Arkansas Razorbacks, their vision is still clear.
“We have one goal, and we're not bashful about reiterating that goal. That goal is to win in Miami,” Smith said. “Our goal is to be a national championship football team and that's what we want to get done. I know our players relish that as well as our fans and our coaches. That's our goal for this year.”