Arkansas' Childs healthy, ready for breakout game
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP)
Greg Childs has gone from one of the top receivers in the Southeastern Conference to a world-class decoy and blocker.
At least, that's the story out of Arkansas about Childs' lack of production through the first half of the season. And the No. 10 Razorbacks (5-1, 1-1 SEC) are sticking to it as they prepare to travel to Mississippi (2-4, 0-3) on Saturday.
Childs led Arkansas in nearly every receiving category as a sophomore in 2009, finishing with 48 catches for 894 yards and seven touchdowns. He was on track for even bigger things last season as a junior, leading the Razorbacks with 46 catches for 659 yards when he suffered a knee injury against Vanderbilt in the eighth game of the season.
His name was mentioned with other top wideouts such as Georgia's A.J. Green, Alabama's Julio Jones and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery. These days, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Childs isn't even in the top five on his own team in catches - with just nine for 109 yards at the season's halfway mark.
It's hardly a position Childs expected to be in a year ago, or even during the offseason while he briefly considered declaring for the NFL draft. It's also led to plenty questions about ''What's wrong?'' - all of which Childs has deflected time and again.
''Me, I've got a lot of pride,'' Childs said. ''I've got a whole bunch of that, so it doesn't really sting me too much. I'm just trying to do what I can so we can win games, play well in the role I need to play for us to win games, even if I have to motivate other people to make plays.''
Despite the drop in production, offensive coordinator Garrick McGee insists the receiver is 100 percent recovered from the knee injury and the lack of catches is a result of consistent double-teaming by opposing defenses.
''A lot of times when you have a receiver that's highly regarded throughout the country, (and) he's not catching a lot of balls, doesn't have a lot of production in the passing game, he normally shows up with an attitude,'' McGee said. ''And we haven't seen any of that from Greg.''
The drop in production from Childs hasn't tempered the top passing attack in the SEC this season, even with Arkansas breaking in junior Tyler Wilson at quarterback following the departure of Ryan Mallett. Even with Childs averaging just 21.8 yards receiving per game, the Razorbacks lead the SEC in total offense with 466.2 yards per game, 336.8 of that through the air.
Senior Jarius Wright has been the biggest benefactor of Childs' drop, averaging 110.8 yards per game - including a school-record 281-yard effort in a win over Texas A&M. The pair are two of four Arkansas receivers who were named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list, along with Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton.
Wilson agreed with McGee in saying the apparent change in the receiving pecking order for the Razorbacks is about pass coverages, even praising Childs for his blocking during a touchdown catch by running back Ronnie Wingo during the win over the Aggies.
''You continue to see him battle; you can see his competitiveness,'' Wilson said. ''He's not going to back down against anybody out there, and I think that's important that you have a guy like that that's not going to complain. He's just going to keep grinding for you and be the ultimate teammate and Greg Childs is that.''
Childs missed Arkansas' game against Troy earlier this season following the death of his grandmother. He returned the following week but had just two catches against Alabama and one a week later as the Razorbacks rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat Texas A&M.
In Arkansas' last game before its bye, Childs appeared to be targeted more by Wilson. He finished with a season-high four catches for 44 yards in a win over Auburn, something he hopes happens more in the future.
''I'm going to be where I need to be at the time I need to be there,'' Childs said. ''So, if he comes my way, I'm just going to do what I always do and make plays.''