HOGS: QB Hicks to start; more notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas senior starting defensive end Dorian Gerald suffered a season-ending neck injury Saturday during the 20-13 season-opening victory over Portland State, Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said.
Gerald did not play in Saturday’s second half but was hospitalized after trainer Dave Polanski and the medical staff detected he had “strained an artery in his neck in the second quarter,” Morris said.
“Credit Dave and our training staff and our doctors for being spot on with everything,” Morris said. “It (from the typical football standpoint) is a very strange injury. He’ll be on blood thinner and will be out the rest of the year. We hope he’ll be released late tonight or tomorrow. We spent some time there Saturday night and Sunday in the hospital with Dorian and his family.”
If proven medically fit again for football, Gerald, a second-year junior college transfer, can redshirt this season and return in 2020 as a fifth-year senior.
BELL MUST ANSWER
Senior Jamario Bell of Junction City did most of the work at end where Gerald had to vacate. Bell contributed one half of a sack and a QB hurry forcing an incomplete pass.
Bell likely starts Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. SEC Network televised SEC-opener for the Razorbacks and Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
“He did fine,” Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis said Monday. “Nobody played perfect, but he did a good job for us.”
ROOKIES IN RESERVE
With Bell in his first-ever UA start and senior Gabe Richardson on the other defensive flank, the backup defensive ends are true freshmen: Mataio Soli, Collin Clay, Zach Williams and possibly Eric Gregory, who injured an ankle in preseason but improved to practice on a limited basis last week. All but Gregory played against Portland State.
“We had some young kids in there,” Chavis said. “We've got to prepare them all.”
Soli broke a hand Saturday but can play with a cast, Morris said. Soli had the cast on in Sunday’s light practice. Senior starting left guard Austin Capps of Star City, injured during Saturday’s game, should practice this week and play against Ole Miss.
Senior Mackey Award candidate tight end, Cheyenne O’Grady (mid-August arthroscopic knee injury) should play against Ole Miss, Morris said.
Junior receiver Jordan Jones of Smackover, high ankle sprain during the preseason, is “a couple of weeks” away from playing, Morris said.
For their performances against Portland State, Morris credited “having a good plan and playing hard and to the end like we knew they would,” Morris said junior running back Rakeem Boyd (114 yards and a touchdown) was Arkansas’ offensive player of the game. Senior defensive tackle Sosa Agim (six tackles including two sacks) and junior strong safety Kamren Curl (an interception, five tackles, two sacks) were the co-defensive players of the game.
“Kam Curl and Sosa, both of these young men, played about as well as I’ve seen these guys play since we’ve been here,” second-year coach Morris saId one game into his second Arkansas season.
HICKS STARTS AGAIN
Offensive coordinator/QB coach Joe Craddock said Monday that senior eligibility graduate transfer (SMU) QB Ben Hicks (14 of 29 without a turnover and 143 yards) starts this week ahead of junior eligibility graduate transfer Nick Starkel. Starkel, a graduate transfer via Texas A&M, was four of five with Arkansas’ longest pass, 38 yards to freshman Trey Knox.
However the one pass he didn’t complete for Arkansas was intercepted in the red zone, squandering Curl’s 29-yard interception return to the PSU 18.
“I don’t think Nick did anything to overtake Ben,” Craddock said. “I think if he goes in and throws a touchdown over the top instead of an interception, we may be talking something different. Ben protected the football and managed the game. Obviously he missed a couple of throws. It’s just about hitting the balls that are there.”
And maybe getting a little help from his friends.
“I counted about five drops and three throwaways,” Craddock said. “So you take that away from his stat line, he’s up there in that 66 percent range of completions. (As for the) three throwaways, I’ve got to call a better play. On the five drops, we’ve got to make those plays.”
The Razorbacks used Monday for their NCAA mandated off day. Tuesday they hold their heaviest practice of the week.