FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With the annual game against LSU looming for Arkansas on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), many Hog fans are reminded of former running back Darren McFadden’s greatness against their SEC West rival.
McFadden, currently on the non-football injury list for the Dallas Cowboys, had 445 rushing yards and 7 total touchdowns in three career games (2005-07) against the Tigers.
SEC Country recently spoke with McFadden about his current teammates from LSU, his success in the “Wild Hog” at Arkansas and more.
Q: What’s it like in locker room with the LSU guys this week?
A: “We’ve got guys like Mo Claiborne, La’el Collins, it’s fun just to talk friendly trash to those guys. Our college days are behind us, but we’re always going to pull for our team. Anytime Arkansas and LSU play, it’s definitely going to be a big game.”
Q: What was it like playing in a backfield with Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis at Arkansas?
A: “It was a great feeling just being back there beside guys like Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. Playing with those guys, who were two great college running backs and had great NFL careers, I just loved playing with those guys. I just feel like we had a very explosive offense at the time and we could compete with anybody.”
Q: Who gets credit for coming up with the highly-successful “Wild Hog” formation?
A: “I give a lot of credit to my running backs coach my freshman year, Danny Nutt. He recruited me out of high school when I played pretty much every position. Quarterback, running back, a little receiver, defense and he knew that I could throw the ball and he had a lot of trust in me to go back there and run the offense.”
Q: What’s your relationship like with former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt?
A: “Coach Nutt is a great guy. I love him. He was a great coach for me, great motivator. That’s one thing a lot of people don’t know about him is the way that he motivated his players. He’d have you ready to play when it came Saturday. I still have a relationship with him to this day. We built a great relationship when I was in school and it’s continuing to carry on as what will be a lifetime relationship.”
Q: From your perspective, what went wrong between Gus Malzahn and Houston Nutt in that 2006 season?
A: “When Coach Malzahn came in, Springdale (Ark.) High School had those great recruits coming in. They were some guys that he brought in that were great players and they did a good job for us. It was just one of those deals where you know have a head coach who is like a coordinator and then a coordinator being the coordinator, so they kind of bumped heads sometimes. But I feel like they did a great job of coaching us and having us read to play when it came time.”
Q: Have you been following Arkansas this season?
A: “I’ve been keeping up with them. They’ve been doing good, but at times I feel like some games they haven’t finished the way that I feel like can play. I watched them play one week and they were playing great and then come back the next week and may not be as good. It’s one of these teams, they just have to keep working and continue to fight and finish.”
Q: You had elbow surgery in June and haven’t played this season. How’s your health now?
A: “Health is great. I’m ready to play. I’m still on NFI (non-football injury list) right now. It’s just a waiting game for me. A numbers game. We have a great running back right now in Ezekiel Elliott. He’s doing a good job. Whenever it’s time for me to be up again and ready to play, I’m going to be ready. ”
Q: What are your thoughts on what Dak Prescott and Elliott have been able to do for you guys this year?
A: “They’ve been doing a heck of a job. Two rookies coming in there and doing what they’ve done for our offense, they’ve been the leaders on our team pretty much. Especially with Dak, the way he comes in and takes control of the huddle. Zeke, he’s a guy who knows the offense. He knows how to run the ball and he’s been doing a tremendous job.”