Arkansas coach John L. Smith said he’s hoping the Razorbacks can send their departing seniors out with an upset victory against No. 8 on Friday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark.
Smith’s interim tenure will come to an end as will a very disappointing season for Arkansas, which was a preseason top 10 pick but has struggled to a 4-7 record and a 2-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference.
“We’re looking forward to sending our seniors out the right way,” Smith said Wednesday morning during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference. “This has been a great class to be a part of. They’ve been a part of a lot of good things.
“They’ve had a lot of adversity this year and they’ve handled that adversity with class and dignity and done it the right way. It will be an emotional day to see those guys leave.”
Smith said the Razorbacks “did everything the right” in the classroom and on the practice field.
“They went to class and the practice field every day to work hard,” Smith said. “They were a pleasure to be around. They want to do the best they can and get better. This season has been a disappointment, but they’ve been a great crew to work with.”
Smith said Arkansas has had to play an inordinate number of freshmen “before they were ready” because of injuries. He said that’s a negative this season but will lead to a “bright future” for them and the program.
“The state of the program is fine,” Smith said. “It’ll take a year or so to get back but there’s a positive outlook.”
Smith cited the Razorbacks’ propensity for committing turnovers – they’ve committed an SEC-worst 29 – as one of the reasons they have squandered numerous good starts in games.
“If we had played every quarter like the first quarter,” Smith said, “it would be a totally different season.”