Arkansas wasted no time getting back to business this weekend.
Losing dynamic running back Knile Davis was a crushing blow to the Razorbacks' offense, but Arkansas has options and coach Bobby Petrino has moved one player from the defensive backfield to running back.
Freshman cornerback Kelvin Fisher Jr. was that player. He played some running back in high school.
“We recruited him off of running back tape,” Petrino said of Fisher. “And he’s very explosive, very quick, has great hands. We worked him one day in camp, both with the running backs and wide receivers, just to see what type of offensive skill he has. He has very good skill.”
Senior cornerback De'Anthony Curtis, who played running back during his first two seasons with the Hogs, could also be used at running back. In 2008, Curtis was Arkansas' third-leading rusher with 23 carries for 76 yards. He also had eight catches for 68 yards. A year later, his production went down as he grabbed four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also had just one carry for three yards.
As for the two players asked to replace most of Davis' production, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr. understand they are attempting to fill pretty big shoes and that there are plenty of doubters out there.
"Me and Wingo have a lot to prove,” Johnson said. “Look on Twitter and people are doubting us. So we’re just going to go out there and prove them wrong and show the world that we can run the ball.”
So far, both backs have responded well in practice, but game production is where it counts. Petrino has been down this road before. As the head coach at Louisville in 2006, he lost starting running back Michael Bush during the season opener, but used a stable of running backs in his place that accumulated more than 2,000 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns.
Can Petrino find some of that magic again?
“We’re going to have to find a way to cover for his production in a number of different ways,” Petrino said. “But the good thing is we have depth at the position. We have guys that are proven that they can play in this conference and be very, very productive.”