FAYETTEVILLE — Off his part of Wednesday morning’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference, Arkansas Coach Chad Morris described his Razorbacks as the ailing mending and the healthy practicing well in this open date week leading into their Oct. 12 game week against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Arkansas, 2-3, 0-2 in the SEC West, and Coach Mark Stoops’ Wildcats, 2-3, 0-3 in the SEC East, both had an open date week before their 6:30 p.m. (CDT) SEC Network televised SEC game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday.
Nick Starkel, Arkansas’ right-handed quarterback but whose left hand got so injured during last Saturday’s 31-27 loss to Texas A&M, that he couldn’t grip the ball and was relieved by backup quarterback Ben Hicks, looks good to go against Kentucky off his practice Tuesday, Morris said Wednesday morning.
“Nick was back out there yesterday, had gained all the strength back in his arm, or in his hand,” Morris said. “He worked out all day, threw… Nothing would lead me to believe that he wouldn’t be back 100 percent ready to go for next week.”
Starkel worked again Wednesday.
Senior defensive tackle McTelvin “Sosa” Agim (knee) and junior center Ty Clary (“some concussion protocol) were in yellow no practice jerseys Tuesday, but Morris said Agim may practice as the Hogs wrap their open date practices Thursday and should play against Kentucky.
Clary likely will be ready by Oct. 12, Morris and offensive line coach Dustin Fry said, but precautions are strict in concussion protocol.
Third-year sophomore Shane Clenin, listed as the backup center, and true freshman Beaux Limmer, listed as a backup guard but practicing at center earlier, have been getting the center’s work this week.
“Shane’s our backup center and I told him it was a good week for me to get him confidence in what he’s doing,” Fry said. He’s done a really good job this week. We’ve got Beaux back in there playing some center, too, just making sure I keep that depth going. I’m really happy with the way they’ve practiced. It hasn’t been perfect, but they’re out there competing.”
Running back Chase Hayden, out since suffering a concussion during the Sept. 21 loss to San Jose State, still has not been cleared to practice.
Jordan Jones, the junior receiver from Smackover out since an August preseason ankle injury that required surgery, has “worked his tail off to get back in shape,” receivers coach Justin Stepp said Wednesday and is closer to figuring into the game plan.
Senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady of Fayetteville, named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week by the postseason John Mackey Award committee for his 8 catches for 91 yards in last Saturday’s 31-27 SEC loss at Texas A&M, running back Rakeem Boyd are among those resting “nagging injuries,” this week, Morris said as are freshman flash receivers Trey Knox (hip holding him out of last Saturday’s A&M game) and Treylon Burks and sophomore receiver Mike Woods (hip).
“We anticipate those guys being ready to go,” Morris said by the Kentucky game.
Burks practiced full go Wednesday as did junior receiver/kick returner De’Vion Warren, missing the Texas A&M game while in concussion protocol.
An open date week is always a good week to rest Colton Jackson, the left offensive tackle from Conway and the Hogs’ most experienced offensive lineman playing despite a foot injury that’s lingered since preseason plus a concussion that withheld him from the San Jose State game.
“We’re very careful with him,” Fry said. “He’s a high mileage guy, and he doesn’t do us any good when he can’t play. He’s a veteran so we’re going take care of him a little bit.”
This is the week to mend the ailing, Morris said.
“It’s been a grind since the start of August,” Morris said. “So these (injured) guys have an opportunity to step back a little bit this weekend, get away from it for a few days and be back in here Sunday ready to go as we start our game week for Kentucky.
Meanwhile the healthy, particularly the younger players getting a chance to get coached under hard contact, get after it.
“Our younger guys there was a substantial amount of time toward the end of practice,” Morris said. “And it was a full-on, live-tackle scrimmage. I say scrimmage, it was opportunities to go good on good with a bunch of those guys.”
Obviously both Arkansas and Kentucky get an open date week head start preparing for each other.
“Kentucky prep is in full force,” Morris said. “Getting a plan together and getting our guys to understand the plan and be able to play at a high level.”