HOGS: Frosh WR Knox still out; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Chad Morris’ meeting with media after Thursday’s practice wrought no news whether Arkansas’ head coach will start graduate transfer Ben Hicks via SMU or graduate transfer Nick Starkel via Texas A&M at quarterback in the Aug. 31 season opener against Portland State.
“I'm not gonna name one today,” Morris said then referenced their performances in Wednesday’s scrimmage. “I thought they did some really good things. There were some things we've really got to improve on. Overall, I thought it was a good scrimmage.”
Morris said he would name a starter next week at some point and could play more than one QB.
“That I don’t know at this point,” Morris said. “The game will dictate a lot of that.”
Eventually Morris will have to tell one of the two he’s not the starter.
“Everybody wants to start, but they can’t,” Morris said. “These guys understand there is only one guy we’re going to run out there. They also understand because they’ve been around the game of football long enough that when their opportunity does arise, they better be ready for it. That is just part of the game.”
Because of an illness not specifically disclosed, freshman wide receiver Trey Knox (in C Whitlow photo above) missed his fourth consecutive practice.
“Trey is still sick,” Morris said. “We hope to get him back as soon as possible, sooner than later. I don’t anticipate him practicing tomorrow but hopefully he’ll be back out Saturday and being with us, but we’ll see on that.”
Off of Wednesday’s 80-play scrimmage with many first-teamers limited to curtail their injury risks, Thursday’s practice was totally non-contact in T-shirts and shorts minus helmet.
They will have some contact in Friday’s practice and then a non-contact day in Saturday’s 3 p.m. Beanie Bowl, Morris’ euphemism for the dress rehearsal at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Hogs will go over everything from pregame warmup routine to following procedures when a fight breaks out and players are ejected.
It was suggested that right offensive tackle Dalton Wagner and defensive end Gabe Richardson would be ideally paired for the fight Morris plans to stage at some Beanie Bowl point.
“Those would be the two we would need to select,” Morris said, smiling. “I’ve got to make sure they're lined up against each other. We'll do that (the staged fight) then call the team up and explain what happens: You come off the field, who takes the guy in the locker room, how we do things. Those are things behind the scenes no one ever knows, but you've got to coach those up.”
Senior first-team left offensive guard Austin Capps of Star City, and third-year sophomore receiver Koilan Jackson, both undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago, participated Thursday. Morris projected Capps going full practice today and limited work for Jackson.
With the SEC opener looming Sept. 7 at Ole Miss, Morris sounded a little more cautious about Mackey Award Watch List senior tight end Cheyenne “C.J.” O’Grady (arthroscopic knee surgery) returning to practice to play against Portland State.
“I believe CJ jogged a little bit today,” Morris said. “He is progressing. Get him ready for Tuesday and Wednesday practice next week is our plan right now, but we’ll wait and reevaluate that.”
From spring ball on, the defense has been ahead of last year’s pace when the Hogs struggled 2-10 in Morris’ first season after inheriting a team that went 4-8 the previous season under former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.
“From a scheme and knowledge standpoint and understanding what’s expected of them, we are well ahead of where we were a year ago,” Morris said.