Hogs: LB Williams w/good start vs UGA: Ellis still out; cleaning up kicking game

Hogs: LB Williams w/good start vs UGA: Ellis still out; cleaning up kicking game

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FAYETTEVILLE - Sophomore junior college transfer Josh Williams gears for his second consecutive start at middle linebacker Saturday for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas takes on Alabama-Birmingham at 11 a.m. Saturday in a non-conference homecoming game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Williams first replaced injured starter Brooks Ellis in last week's 45-32 SEC loss to then No. 10 Georgia in Little Rock.


Williams wasn't always in the right place at the right time against the Bulldogs, but his 14 tackles led the team.

"He did some good things in the game," Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon said Wednesday. "We were proud of what he did. He had a lot of tackles in the game and he made a lot of plays. He did some things we wanted to get done."

Georgia was not the easiest of teams to debut against, either, now nationally No. 9 and leading the SEC East.

"Yeah, but that's how it is," Shannon said. "You are in the SEC and that's the way it is going to be. He came here because he had an opportunity, a great opportunity to compete and his number was called and he went out there and played. He got us lined up and did some things that were really exciting for us because now we now he have a guy, that if something goes wrong, we can always depend on."

Shannon expects to depend on Williams, again, against UAB as Ellis recovers from a deeply bruised knee.

"He (Ellis) is just doing what he is doing, getting back into it," Shannon said. "Like anything else we can't worry about what Brooks does right now. We have got to worry about the guys we have."

Williams showed he has the motor to run with Georgia.

"Josh chased the ball very, very hard," Shannon said. "Ran some plays down from behind, showed his speed and his burst. Like anything else, it's a game that he played well, but as a group we didn't play well. it's total defense and we didn't get done what we needed to get done to win the game."

Apparently, Williams must meet UAB's challenge head on. Running back Jordan Howard leads the Blazers rushers with 151 carries for 752 yards and seven touchdowns.

"They are a running team," Shannon said. "They like to run the football, and we have got to make sure that we are on our game of stopping the run. They thing they do a great job of is run the ball, run the ball and then play action pass, max protect and send two receivers out. So it's going to be a challenge for us and also in the secondary which we are part of the secondary too at linebacker. We have to stay sound on what are trying to get done."

During Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema discussed Adam McFain of Greenwood assuming the place-kicker's job after John Henson PATs were blocked in consecutive games by Alabama and Georgia. He also discussed the punting situation with Sam Irwin-Hill punting well last season and early this season but struggling so last week that Bielema opened competition between Irwin-Hill and walk-on Toby Baker.

"In the kicking game, I was very excited by Adam McFain. He came in and was able to do in PAT situations, the height on the ball and the delivery on the kick." Bielema said.

What about Irwin-Hill's recent struggles.

"To me, we lost the focus on what he does well," Bielema said. "I just tell the guys every day in practice, I just need you to be the good you that you are. He hasn't been punting the ball as effectively as we wanted. I told him and Toby, a week ago, we're going to be in a competition. We didn't go with Toby. We went with Sam and didn't get the results I wanted, so I put Toby in the No. 1 position and said that Sam had to earn it, and in the course of the week he proceeded to hit the ball, I believe five times yesterday with over 5.0 hang time and over 45 yards. So I think the message got across."

Rory Segrest, who coaches kickers and the defensive line, was asked post practice about McFain and the punters.

"He (McFain) is doing really well," Segrest said. "He has hit some real good balls, some long kicks. He's got a live leg and that thing comes off of it."

Segrest said the punters continue competing like the position is open. "Both have hit some great balls this week," Segrest saiD. "We'll have another practice tomorrow, and I don't think any decisions have been made yet. We'll put the best guy out there."


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