Exclusive 5NEWS Interview with Coach Smith

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Razorbacks Head Coach John L. Smith sat down with 5NEWS for a one-on-one interview about what’s he’ll been telling his players about the daunting task of taking on No. 1 Alabama.

Q: How do you move forward after Saturday’s loss the University of Louisiana at Monroe?

A: Well, you approach your team — these guys are used to that. They have played sports their entire lives. They understand that you are going to get knocked down. You are going to lose games. You have to get back up. That’s part of the lessons that we learned through sport is that you aren’t going to win them all. You have to get up off the carpet. You have to keep going, with a more determined attitude than you’ve ever had. So that’s what we tried to talk about with our guys. We know they are going to get back up and approach the next game. But it has to be with a renewed determination and attitude about it.

Q: Is there a negative attitude in the locker room?

A: Not to the degree you would expect, there is always a little of that. And maybe you don’t hear that as a coach, but as I see it there is very, very little of that. But they are in the same boat together, and they are going to trudge forward. But I’m also a big believer in you don’t look back. You tear off the rearview mirror and start looking ahead , so we’ve spent a lot more time looking ahead and not looking back.

Q: What are your thoughts about the crushing loss to ULM.

A: It was a disappointing Saturday without a doubt, disappointing from a stand point that they deserve credit. They played well. Their kids played well. They out-coached us, and I said that I feel like we didn’t do as good of a job coaching as we should. And I think as a coach, that is your responsibility, and you have to take that responsibility and say we have to do a better job of preparing our guys and getting them ready to go, and getting them going. So again, it was a very disappointing Saturday, but it was something we experienced before and probably going to experience in life, and that’s what we tried to tell our football team: there is going to be adversity, and they know that, and we are going to continue on. It was disappointing, but that is one of the great things about sport. Now we have another chance to prove ourselves and go to the field again.

Q: Is the Alabama game one of the biggest games of your career?

A: It’s a huge game. I don’t really have the highest and lowest, but it’s a big game for us as a university, as a program, as coaches, as players. You only get so many shots, and I tell our football team this…your football playing window is very short, so the magnitude of these games you can never be overstated; they are all huge.

Q: Can you say this is a successful season for the team so far?

A: We are undefeated again in league just like a lot of other teams. We need to take the field with that goal. We have a goal of winning the west, and if we win the west, we have a chance to win the rest, and that has not changed, and we kind of related some of those things.  Georgia starts 0-2 a year ago, so it’s one of those things that we need to prepare ourselves weekly and go from here.

Q: Do you have high hopes coming in this year with deficiencies?

A: Deficiencies? I guess we didn`t get enough work from our linebackers we should have. We had some injuries along the way. I guess those are some deficiencies other than what you see with our depth factor and not having depth in certain spots, which we already knew. I mean that is a little of a deficiency, but other than that there aren`t a lot of other deficiencies out there.

Q: How do you deal with people calling for your job?

A: I don`t deal with it to be honest with you. The little email I get has been positive. So from that stand point, I am encouraged, and I know our football team is encouraged. And that’s what people are calling for, that`s up to them. But I just worry about what I can control, and we can control. And that`s this football team and that`s our preparation for this week.

Q: What is your message to die-hard Hogs fans?

A: Don`t give up on us. You`ve been here for the spring, and you`ve seen the adversity we went through in the spring, and you`re here and supporting these guys. They still deserve your support. That’s the first thing I would tell them. We are the same kids. We are the same football team we were. We are the same coaching staff we were prior to the game, so come out and support us. We need it.

Q: Does it seem like it’s your team against the world?

A: That mentality is a good way to put it: It’s us against the world. I think our team mentality going into fall ball was that throughout spring, I think they developed that mentality and I see that from them. It’s what we are thinking, and its us within in that room, and I think that`s a good way to put it.”

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