Arkansas coach John L. Smith and the rest of his staff are dealing with unknowns in regard to their futures with the Razorbacks this season. But it’s not stopping Smith or his coaches from spending time on the road recruiting this week.
In fact, Smith said Arkansas practiced with roughly half of the staff on campus Thursday. The rest had already hit the road to go recruiting during the off week.
"The coordinators stayed in," Smith said. "Coach (Paul) Petrino stayed in. Coach (Paul) Haynes stayed in and a couple of the other coaches. But they’re all going to be leaving (Thursday). Then I’ll be out (today).
"We’ll all be on the road and get out and get some recruiting done."
Arkansas has 16 verbal commitments, according to Rivals.com, for its 2013 signing class despite the uncertainty this fall. Smith and his staff have said numerous times they’re encouraging prospects to choose the school, not the coaching staff, when taking a look at the Razorbacks during the recruiting process right now.
It may be an awkward situation, but Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said earlier this week he and the coaching staff made "some commitments" to each other in regard to recruiting for 2013. He stressed the coaches are "recruiting for the University of Arkansas" despite the unknown and believes they’re doing well.
"I have no question they are on the right kind of student-athletes," Long said. "And they’re continuing to recruit. Obviously there are prospects out there that are going to wait to see what happens. Everybody gets concerned about recruiting and frankly so, but I think if everything goes like we expect we’ll have our new coach named and we’ll be able to make up a lot of ground in recruiting in December."
What has been key to Arkansas’ defensive improvement the past two weeks?
Haynes said Wednesday it’s the fact Arkansas is accomplishing the "little things."
"I think one of the reasons why we played good the last couple weeks is we’ve been doing the little things right," Haynes said. "We’ve tackled better. We haven’t given up as many big plays as before. We’ve been in our gaps. We’ve been sound."
Arkansas has allowed 14 points and 491 combined yards in the wins against Auburn and Ole Miss. It was a change from the first five games, when the Razorbacks allowed 40.6 points and 510.2 yards during their 1-4 start.
So Haynes said Arkansas continued to stress the little things during bye week practices as it prepares for next Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.
"We’re not throwing everything we’re going to do next week at them," Haynes said. "Just trying to take it piece by piece and get good at, really working on fundamentals and technique a little bit more with what we’re going to do versus (Ole Miss)."
Defensive tackle D.D. Jones was sidelined for the Kentucky game with what Smith described as leg problems. He said Thursday the senior simply needs rest.
"His legs are coming around a little bit," Smith said. "But the more rest he gets the better it is for him. He needs a couple weeks rest. ...
"A good race horse breaks down. He’s just going so hard. Going all the time. For some guys, they need a little more rest. And he needs a little rest."
Jones has 13 tackles, 1 1/2 for losses, in six games this season.
Arkansas wrapped up its final practice of the week Thursday, giving players two days off before returning for a workout Sunday night. It’s not much time off, but players like quarterback Tyler Wilson planned to make the most of it.
"My two big plans: I’m going to go home, watch the Greenwood-Southside game perhaps," said Wilson, a Greenwood High graduate. "Do that and maybe play a little golf on Sunday."