Flowers, Peters back as Hogs look sharp in final practice for Southern Miss
FAYETTEVILLE - Among those sitting out Arkansas' victory over Samford last week, junior starting defensive end Trey Flowers and sophomore linebacker Otha Peters will play Saturday, Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said Thursday.
Soph LB Otha Peters
Arkansas plays host to Southern Mississippi at 11:20 a.m. Saturday in an SEC-Network televised non-conference game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Regarding this week's practices which wrapped with a light workout Thursday, Bielema said, "We worked on the game plan and concentrated on the things we didn't do well Saturday. I felt they locked in to that. Today was a very sharp practice for a Thursday, probably the best of the year for us."
Sophomore strong safety Rohan Gaines could play Saturday but probably won't, and fourth-year junior Alan Turner of Junction City will start again, Bielema said.
Senior tight end Austin Tate will dress out for his first game for the 2-0 Hogs since his August preseason shoulder injury required surgery. Sophomore receiver Keon Hatcher (hamstring) will be a game time decision after pregame warmups, Bielema said.
Flowers was SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his three tackles behind the line, including two quarterback sacks, after the 34-14 season-opening victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Flowers dressed out for Saturday's Samford game but did not play before resuming practice Sunday.
"As far as an injury update, Trey Flowers has been with us all week," Bielema said. "He won't miss a beat."
Peters, a starter in 2012, had to work his way up the depth chart after breaking a bone in his arm during August preseason. "Otha Peters will play," Bielema said. "I don't know how much from the line of scrimmage we'll work him in depending upon how the game flows. We'll be getting him in on special teams. He'll probably get in the game first on kick coverage. He still has a pretty sizable cast on his right hand."
Peters will play middle linebacker behind senior Austin Jones if he plays any 'backer Saturday, Bielema said.
Senior Jarrett Lake, the strongside linebacker sitting out a Bielema ordered disciplinary suspension last week, returns to start. Junior Braylon Mitchell will start at weakside linebacker.
Regarding three-year letterman Tate, Bielema said, "We feel he's about another week away from contact."
NOT LOOKING PAST SOUTHERN MISS
Just two years ago, Arkansas vs. Southern Mississippi would have been an epic matchup when the Hogs were 11-2 under Bobby Petrino and the Golden Eagles were 12-2 under Larry Fedora.
After Fedora moved on to North Carolina, the Golden Eagles crashed 0-12 under Ellis Johnson last year and are 0-2 under new coach Todd Monken. Southern Miss has lost 22-15 and 56-13 at home to Texas State and at Nebraska.
"One of the things we'll emphasize whether we're playing Southern Miss this week or (reigning national/SEC champion) Alabama in Game 8 or Texas A&M in Game 5 (in the SEC opener Sept. 28 in Fayetteville) or Rutgers (Sept. 21 in Piscataway, N.J.) the record does not matter," Bielema said. "Anybody can get anybody on a given Saturday. As far as we are concerned, he (USM coach Todd Monken) wants to go 1-0 on that day just as bad as we do."
Bielema outlined additional duties for precocious freshmen offensive tackles Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper and cornerback D.J Dean, who are playing rather than redshirting.
Backup tackles Kirkland and Skipper are starters on the field goal and PAT teams, Bielema said, and they may even play some on the defensive line in certain situations. Bielema added that Dean "will be involved more."
"The guys we've used their redshirt, we want to maximize," Bielema said. "We want to increase their roles."