"I thought he was a big time leader out there today and we needed every bit of Dennis Johnson," quarterback Tyler Wilson said after Arkansas' 30-27 loss to Ole Miss.
Dennis Johnson and leadership haven't been two things associated with each other in the past, but a meeting between the coaches and Johnson's mother earlier this season turned the tide on the senior's attitude.
"She obviously made a big difference and it's been a great change for him and for all of us," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said.
"(We discussed) how to overcome, how to be better, how we expected more, all of those things," head coach John L. Smith said. "I think Dennis, without a doubt, listened and said 'yeah I'm going to do that.'"
"I know my mom has my back regardless of anything that happens," Johnson said. "It's nice to have a mom out there that has your back."
Mom's words of wisdom triggered an explosion from her son on the field, never more evident than saturday's game tying touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
"I just told myself we were going to win the game no matter what," Johnson explained. "We were going to get in the end zone and win."
"(He) basically tried to put the team on his shoulders and will us to win," Petrino described. "I just feel bad we didn't get it done."
"You could tell he wasn't going to let his team down," senior receiver Cobi Hamilton said. "You could tell he was being a team player. We needed that in that situation."
That final TD run gave Johnson a new careeer high in rush yards (161) and a strangle hold on the feature back position at Arkansas.
"He had a heck of a game," Wilson said. "You saw at the end how he can will himself to some yards."
"It's always been there," Johnson said. "That's how I was taught to run the ball. Run the ball tough and hard. Make one cut and go."