HOGS: Four QBs under review; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - A lingering foot injury compounded during this season by two concussions and a back injury after being sidelined the first two games of 2018 by ruptured disks have ended Colton Jackson’s career at Arkansas.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris announced Monday the fifth-senior starting left tackle from Conway will not play the Razorbacks’ final four games, starting with Saturday’s 3 p.m. SEC West game against Mississippi State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Jackson played through pain while starting five games for these 2-6 Razorbacks. He missed the San Jose State, Kentucky and Saturday's 48-7 loss at Alabama after trying to practice last week but unable to finish because of his back.
“I met with Colton Jackson just a little bit earlier, and Colton has really struggled with getting healthy and staying healthy,” Morris said. “It just seems like it’s something that continues to re-occur. He and his family have made the decision that he’s going to step away from football. He’s very upset and frustrated that he can’t get healthy and stay healthy. I know he was very disappointed and upset he wasn’t able to finish, but he’ll still be a part of us and be around and help our younger guys out.”
Jackson was recruited and redshirted by the Bret Bielema Razorbacks regime and lettered two seasons before Morris and his staff arrived last year.
Second-year offensive coordinator Joe Craddock commented on Jackson’s contributions the past two years while counseling the young offensive linemen.
“It’s really sad news to see him have to step up away,” Craddock said. “I love Colton to death. He’s a leader in that room trying to get the other guys going. He’s been a warrior. He’s fought through a lot of pain that a lot of people don’t know about. Last week at practice you could see he was trying to push through it but it was killing him.”
Junior college transfer Myron Cunningham will start at left tackle when the Razorbacks (2-6, 0-5 in the SEC) and Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4) play in Saturday’s homecoming on the SEC Network.
11 A.M. KICKOFF
The SEC Network will also televise Arkansas’ Nov. 9 non-conference game against Western Kentucky at 11 a.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
LEFT GUARD SHUFFLE
Arkansas’ battered line likely starts its third different left offensive guard in as many games.
Senior starter Austin Capps, out since suffering a concussion during the 51-10 loss to Auburn, is still questionable for this week. Kirby Adcock, the sophomore from Nashville, suffered a concussion starting against Alabama and is “doubtful,” Morris said, against Mississippi State.
Sophomore Shane Clenin, also practicing as a backup center and tackle, or true freshman Beaux Limmer could join true freshman right guard Ricky Stromberg as the starting guards.
Junior starting center Ty Clary injured a shoulder against Alabama but should be OK to play Saturday, Morris said.
FOUR QBS UNDER REVIEW
At quarterback, graduate transfer Ben Hicks, missing the Alabama game from a shoulder injury the previous week after playing the whole game against Auburn, re-enters a picture with Morris and Craddock now evaluating four quarterbacks.
Either Hicks or graduate transfer Nick Starkel, struggling against Alabama by throwing three interceptions and fumbling a snap to set up 24 Alabama first-half points, has started every game. They had done all the quarterbacking until redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones played one first-half series against Alabama and quarterbacked the entire second half, finishing six of seven passing for 49 yards and Arkansas’ lone touchdown.
True freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson could play in all four remaining games and under the four-game maximum rule NCAA invoked last year and maintain his freshman eligibility for 2020.
“Whoever we feel like is the best opportunity for us to win that game is first and foremost who we’re going with,” Morris said. “I don’t know that right now at this point. But I do know that all options are on the table.”
Presumably Jefferson’s time would be worked in gradually, but second-year freshman Jones’ second half against Alabama makes a case for first-team reps in practice this week.
“I thought John Stephen did some really good things and opened up a new dimension to our run game in the zone read,” Morris said Monday. “I think he gave us a spark and made some good reads. In fact, every one of his reads were right on, so I was very proud to see him and the success that he had.”
Freshman defensive tackle Marcus Miller of Warren has undergone knee surgery and will miss the season’s remainder.