FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Arkansas' situation at cornerback might look different this week against a South Carolina team that likes to stretch the field.
Three-game starter Ramon Broadway will try to return from the hamstring injury that sidelined him last week, and Andru Stewart, a four-game starter, will attempt to rebound from the academic issue that kept him out against Eastern Michigan.
"We're hoping Broadway is back," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "He did go out and run yesterday with the trainers, and he's supposed to run this evening with the team."
Rudell Crim recovered from the hip pointer he suffered at Ole Miss and started his eighth consecutive game, while freshman David Gordon filled in at the boundary corner spot where Broadway and Stewart had split time.
"Andru Stewart will be evaluated daily as far as how he does on his academic responsibilities," Petrino said. "I like the player. He's done a nice job playing for us, he just has to take care of his responsibilities academically."
Tailback Michael Smith, who has missed two of the past three games with a hamstring injury, is questionable for South Carolina.
"He was good on Sunday, did a nice job in the work he did with the training staff," Petrino said. "He's gonna have to get out there and practice and practice full speed to be ready for the game."
Smith hurt his hamstring while running for a season-best 145 yards in Arkansas' 44-23 victory against Auburn, sat out the Florida game, then came back and ran six times for 35 yards against Ole Miss before missing the Eastern Michigan game.
Senior guard Mitch Petrus was selected as the SEC's offensive lineman of the week for his role in Arkansas' homecoming victory against Eastern Michigan.
Petrus was part of an offensive line that did now allow a sack and paved the way for 292 rushing yards on 30 carries. The offensive front also helped the Razorbacks complete 19 of 27 passes for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns.
"He played probably as aggressively as you can," Petrino said. "His effort was real good. I've been very impressed with his commitment and how focused he's been the entire year."
Petrino said he knew the Razorbacks had some first-time starters against Eastern Michigan, but he seemed surprised when told the total was eight.
"Is that right?" he said with a laugh. "I didn't know there was that many."
Arkansas' coaches said last week they were going to determine the starting lineup based on effort.
"We're just going to continue to grade practice, and really make sure that the guys we put out on the field have put in great effort in practice," Petrino said. "I think we got better as a team because we practiced with good tempo, practiced fast and guys were competing.
"As the week went on, it was more and more competitive, to make sure they got good effort grades for practice."
Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said "they'll get graded on every play every day."
The lineup changes came after the Razorbacks appeared flat in a 30-17 loss at Ole Miss, but Petrino said he didn't believe the players' efforts had slipped.
"It's just something that sometimes when you don't do well, you come back and say, 'Hey, if I'm gonna get beat, I'm gonna get beat with 22 guys who want to practice hard every play,'" Petrino said.
Dial it up
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said the 78-yard touchdown pass Ryan Mallett threw to Joe Adams against Eastern Michigan came on the same play that produced a 67-yard gain from Mallett to Adams against Texas A&M.
"It's off of play-action," Petrino said. "It's a double move, sell the corner route, and go back to the post. Joe just has a good knack for it."
Petrino said the play also was called on Arkansas' first snap against Eastern Michigan, but Mallett wound up hitting Jarius Wright on a comeback route for a 13-yard gain because the Eagles had a safety playing over the top to defend the post.
Freshman Darius Winston, who has played mostly on special teams, got extensive work at cornerback last week.
"Darius had some hard knocks," defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "He learned through the game, and I'm sure he'll come in and watch the tape and learn from it.
"That's part of the growing pains for youngsters like that. We had quite a few of them on the field. ... But it doesn't stand out quite as much when you're inside as it does when you're out there at the corner position."