FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is back for his junior season.

Sanders, 6-foot-2, 242-pounds was asked following Tuesday’s practice if he has a weight goal for the season?

“I really didn’t have a plan going into the weight thing,” Sanders said. “But me and Coach (Ben) Sowders talked about it. He wanted me around the 235, 240 range because whenever I was at 246 I wasn’t moving as best as I felt. I feel like, just starting with fall camp it helped me to lose a little bit of weight and stay at that 240, down to 235 range and I feel way more comfortable speed wise and not being too tired.”

Some fans on social media are concerned about Sanders being able to retain his elite speed at his current weight. Has Sanders seen that?

“Nah,” Sanders said. “People are always going to have stuff to say, but that’s not something I’m looking for. I’m definitely looking forward to this season. I’m not worried about what nobody else has to say. At the end of the day, they are going to have negative and good thoughts about me and my teammates, so I don’t really look into that.”

Sanders and the Razorbacks will face Western Carolina at noon on Saturday in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. For Sanders to face a different opponent is a blessing.

“It’s going to definitely feel different, and way better since I don’t have to go against the defense every day,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ buddy in the backfield, quarterback KJ Jefferson is also looking forward to facing a different opponent.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Jefferson said. “I’m excited, just going out there with my teammates and being around the fans and the atmosphere and game day feel. Just the mindset. And really see my teammates play ball. I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it.”

Defensive end Zach Williams is also looking forward to the game on Saturday since it will be played in a stadium he’s very familiar with.

“I know I do better every year,” Williams said. “So I’m just trying to do better than the last year … Going to War Memorial, it’s the last time I’m ever going to play there. I’ve been playing there since I was in PeeWee, then middle school, high school and college now. It’s the last time, so I’ve got to make some shake. Do some good and leave something memorable on the field.”

Like his teammates, Williams is simply looking forward to playing against someone else after a month of practice.

“I’m excited,” Williams said. “I’m ready to play against somebody else instead of the same people every day. Like KJ said, the atmosphere, there’s nothing that can compare to it when you have all those people yelling at you, wanting you to succeed. So I’m just ready for it.”

Williams also feels he will be part of a better defense this year and made the case for that on Tuesday night.

“Like I said, we have more depth I feel like,” Williams said. “There’s a lot more reliable people. I wouldn’t say last year they weren’t reliable, but you always want to move forward and have better reliability. So that’s something. Coach T-Will (Travis Williams), he’s an awesome spirit. He gets you fired up. He always has something right to say. I guess he is a little younger. He always knows how to talk to us, kind of, and I feel like it just hits a different spot. The coaches, too. You can see the coaches, there is something about them. I guess it’s because of T-Will or something, they’re a little fiery. I like that, and that’s what you need to be a good defense.”

The game will be on ESPN+ and SEC Network+.