Razorbacks open against Bears

Wednesday, August 30th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-For Arkansas' players, the game is the thing, coach Houston Nutt said Wednesday.

"Our guys are very anxious to play," he said. "They are ready to hit somebody else."

The Razorbacks open the season Saturday night in Little Rock against Southwest Missouri State of Division I-AA. Nutt said the I-AA designation _ a cut below Division I teams like Arkansas _ means little to his players.

"Our players are just looking forward to playing an opponent," Nutt said.

Nutt was the head coach at Murray State of I-AA for four years before spending a year at Boise State. As a I-AA coach, he said, he always wanted to play Division I teams because such games provided a great opportunity.

As a Division I coach, "You're supposed to win this game," he said.

He pointed out, however, that Southwest Missouri has plenty of talented transfers.

In fact, the Bears have 15 players who transferred from Division I schools. That group includes fullback Demetrius Smith, who started two games at Michigan in 1997, and quarterback Austin Moherman, who started two games at Ohio State last year.

Coach Randy Ball attracted Division I transfers during his 16 years at Western Illinois and he still has the knack at Southwest Missouri.

"What we try to do is find the best possible football players that we can, as long as they're the right kind of guy," said Ball, whose first Southwest Missouri team was 5-6. "And we've been fortunate to find some kids that a really good players that were not fitting in in some manner where they came from, whether it be playing time or a disagreement with coaches, or whatever it may be."

This will be the fourth time that Ball and Nutt will coach against each other. Ball's Western Illinois team beat Nutt's Murray State team in 1994. The next two years, Murray State won.

Southwest Missouri State marks the first start for quarterback Robby Hampton, who arrived at Arkansas after four years of minor league baseball. Hampton, who played in seven games last year while backing up Clint Stoerner, and Gary Brashears finished the spring as 1 and 1A. Brashears left Arkansas for Tulsa after the first day of fall practice.

Nutt said Hampton had a good fall camp and is ready.

"We'll see how he operates, how he handles the team," he said. "The little things, the things he didn't get the chance to do last year."

Junior Jared McBride is listed as the No. 2 quarterback and freshman Zak Clark is No. 2. Before Brashears departed, Nutt had hoped to redshirt Clark.

"My intention is to play the other two quarterbacks," Nutt said. "But you never know. We have to win the game first."


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