FAYETTEVILLE — Junior Mike Woods is following up a very good sophomore season with another one as a junior.
In three games, Woods is second on the team with 12 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver De’Vion Warren who has 10 receptions for a team-leading 223 yards and three touchdowns. Woods was asked what it’s like to work with Warren each day?
“Oh that’s my roommate so we live together,” Woods said. “We’ve got a good chemistry and bond. He’s a hard worker. He comes in, puts his head down and works. We hold each other accountable and the rest of the group accountable. He’s a good leader. One of the oldest guys in our room so people look up to him. He’s respected and he’s a hard worker.”
That is incredible stats for Warren considering he was more known as a kick returner prior to this season. In three years, Warren had caught eight passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. What’s the difference?
“He’s confident this year,” Woods said. “He had a great camp. He just looks real confident. He’s playing fast off the ball. Coach always tells him play fast off the ball. When he plays fast off the ball ain’t too many people who can hang with him. He’s been playing fast off the ball and real confident this year.”
Could the change in the coaching staff possibly be one of the reasons?
“That could be what it is, but as far as on his part he just looks a lot more confident,” Woods said. “He’s been playing fast and he’s just been balling this year.”
Several injuries have hit the Razorbacks including at wide receiver. Sophomore Treylon Burks left the Mississippi State game early and didn’t play against Auburn. Woods talked about playing youngsters such as John David White, a redshirt freshman walk-on, and others.
“With the guys stepping in and making plays that’s what the expectation is here,” Woods said. “You’ve got to come in and play. It doesn’t matter if you are third string or what. And plus going into the season with this whole COVID thing going on we already knew people was gonna have to step up anyways. I mean it’s next man up. That’s what it is. We’re not, ‘oh he’s a backup or he’s a freshman’ or whatever. You’ve got to go in and play when your name is called. Rakeem is looking really good. He came back this week. He’s been moving around pretty good so he looks good to me from what I’ve seen.”
In 2019, Woods caught 33 passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns. He entered the season with a goal of no drops and a bunch of yardage.
“I think getting open and making contested catches,” Woods said. “I’ve made some good, contested catches but I still have got to get better. I had a drop last week. I just have got to keep getting better every week and make sure when the ball comes my way I’ve got to do something with it every time.”
Ole Miss has been able to put up lots of points this season. They scored 35 against Florida in the season opener, 42 in overtime against Kentucky and then 48 in a loss to Alabama this past Saturday. In 2015, Arkansas beat Ole Miss 53-52 in overtime in Oxford. Many are predicting a high scoring game like that this week. Does that put pressure on your offense to score virtually each time?
“Ain’t no pressure, really,” Woods said. “Like I said we’ve just got to go out and execute and do what we’re supposed to do and let the chips fall where they fall. We just can’t make mental errors, stupid penalties and shooting ourselves in the foot. We can’t stop ourselves. If we don’t stop ourselves I don’t believe anybody can stop us. So it’s really about what we do.”
With Woods and Warren combining for 22 catches and four touchdowns it seems fair to say they have a good chemistry on the field as well. He also praised running back Trelon Smith who leads the team in both rushing and catches. Smith has carried 41 times for 167 yards and caught 14 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
“Me and De’Vion are definitely doing what we’re supposed to do,” Woods said. “We all expected like we were going to play like this anyway so no really big surprise for us. But I think we’ve been playing very well. And then Trelon Smith – I’ve been telling people in the offseason what he’s going to do when he got here. So it’s no surprise to us or anybody that’s seen Trelon Smith ever since he transferred in. But he’s definitely came in and doing what he’s supposed to do with Rakeem being out. He shouldered a big load for us last week and gave us a good game.”
Woods and Warren have also been able to develop a good chemistry with quarterback Feleipe Franks despite no spring football.
“During quarantine we got a chance to get together outside of football and work on some things,” Woods said. “We’re just out there playing backyard football. We see Feleipe Franks back there we just keep getting open because we know he can extend the play with the best of them. So we see him break we keep playing until the whistle blows.”
While Ole Miss has been explosive on offense, they have given up large chunks of yardage particularly through the air. They have given up 155 points in three games. Any chance of being overconfident against them because of those numbers?
“Like I said, it don’t mean nothing to us because we haven’t done anything against Ole Miss this year,” Woods said. “So we haven’t made a yard against them this year. We still have to go out and earn every yard. It’s still an SEC team, just like every team. So we can’t go out taking anybody lightly. It’s all about us so we just have to go out and execute.”
Woods also discussed what the Ole Miss defense likes to do against opposing offenses.
“We see they are going to give us a lot of space on the edge as opposed to other teams that like to press you and get up in your face and be physical at the point,” Woods said. “But they’ll give us a lot of space, more zone coverage than we usually see. So there will be lot of space out there for us.”
The Hogs ended a 20-game SEC losing streak when they beat Mississippi State in Week 2, but now are trying to snap another skid. Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC home game since Nov. 5, 2016, when they blasted Florida 31-10. Woods wants to change that on Saturday.
“It’s important. I mean we want to win every game, but definitely in our home stadium,” Woods said. “We ain’t gave our home fans a chance to celebrate a win with us in awhile, an SEC win for sure. We’ve just got to bring one home this week so we can all celebrate and have fun and just turn the state up.”
It will be Arkansas’ homecoming on Saturday. The kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.