By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Darren McFadden agrees with the critics who say he's lagging in the Heisman Trophy race.
He also remembers how important a few late-season performances can be.
``I don't feel like I've done enough to be worthy of top consideration,'' the Arkansas star said Monday. ``I'm not really concerned. I don't feel like I came on to the Heisman scene until around this time last season.''
McFadden was the Heisman runner-up in 2006 after sensational November efforts against South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU. All three of those teams are still to come on Arkansas' 2007 schedule, starting with the No. 23 Gamecocks this weekend in Fayetteville.
``I feel like if I go out there and just play my game and do my best, then everything else will take care of itself,'' McFadden said.
McFadden started this season the way he ended the previous one. He rushed for 195 yards in the Razorbacks' second game, a 41-38 loss at Alabama. Arkansas lost again the following week, but McFadden ran for 173 yards against Kentucky.
His Heisman hopes were still strong, but his health was becoming a concern.
McFadden missed the end of the Alabama game with a concussion. A few weeks later, he was bothered by sore ribs in a win over Chattanooga.
``I'm not going to blame my playing on an injury,'' McFadden said.
Maybe not, but McFadden hasn't looked like himself lately. In October, he has rushed for a very un-Heisman 4.0 yards per carry. Now, McFadden is having to work to hold off Felix Jones for Arkansas' rushing lead. McFadden has run for 993 yards this season, Jones for 863.
Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt dismissed talk of McFadden dropping in the Heisman race, pointing out that the junior has been a marked man all season for opposing defenses.
``If you go by the best player _ the player that's supposed to be the best in the country, he's got to be up there,'' Nutt said. ``I'm just amazed at how he could be slipping. I don't see it.''
Nutt hopes McFadden can finish strong.
``I think now, he's just about healthy,'' Nutt said. ``Hopefully he'll be almost 100 percent during the last stretch of the season.''
McFadden has addressed the Heisman only when asked. Even then, he often directs the discussion back toward team goals. Arkansas fell out of the Top 25 early this season, but this last month will still determine the Razorbacks' postseason fate.
``I'm just focused on playing ball,'' McFadden said. ``I'm just trying to help the team out - get us back on the right track.''
At this time last year, Arkansas was in the midst of a 10-game winning streak that sent the Razorbacks to the Southeastern Conference title game. McFadden began November by rushing for 219 yards in a 26-20 win at South Carolina. That's still his career high.
He followed that up with a 181-yard performance in a win over Tennessee, and he finished the regular season by running for 182 yards in a loss to LSU.
In a Heisman race that's still pretty muddled, there's time for McFadden to make a last-ditch push - and Arkansas has a chance to work its way up the bowl pecking order. But McFadden and the Razorbacks need to play well in their final four games, and three of them are against teams currently in the Top 25.
It's a challenge, but it's also an opportunity.
``We have a four-game stretch that we have to finish up strong in,'' McFadden said. ``We have a very tough SEC schedule that's left.''
SOURCE: NCAAFOOTBALL; PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS