HOGS prep for San Jose; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - While Arkansas mounted a 21-0 fourth-rally last week to defeat Colorado State 55-34, the San Jose State Spartans profited from an open date week.
San Jose State (1-1) of San Jose, Calif., and the Mountain West Conference (as is Colorado State), visits Reynolds Razorback Stadium for Saturday night’s 6:30 non-conference game. The SEC Network will televise the game.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris spoke Wednesday morning on the SEC coaches/media teleconference about Brent Brennan’s Spartans with an extra week to prepare.
The Spartans opened Aug. 29 by beating visiting Northern Colorado 35-18 and haven’t played since their Sept. 7 (34-16) loss to the Tulsa, the one FBS team Arkansas defeated last year in its 2-10 season.
“Well, they’re a big pressure team, very multiple defensively,” Morris said. “Four down and some odd based out of an odd front. They do a lot of really good things as far as disguising their pressures and coverages on the back end. We know they had some busts the first couple of weeks that led to some points. Obviously with a week off you get a chance to go back and work on fundamentals and so there’s probably a few pressures that we haven’t seen them run over the last couple of years. We’ve got to prepared for everything.”
Offensively, for reasons that San Jose State has not disclosed, last year’s leading wide receiver, Tre Walker (714 yards and five touchdowns from 39 catches) has not played in the Spartans’ first two games.
Nonetheless, Walker is listed on the San Jose State press release as a starter and been “practicing as if he’s going to play,” a San Jose State spokesman confirmed.
Arkansas redshirt freshman backup cornerback LaDarrius Bishop of Ashdown has seen enough of last year’s film to be impressed by Walker and enough of this year’s film to be impressed by Bailey Gaither (16 catches for 327 yards last year and seven catches for 74 yards this year).
“They look good,” Bishop said. “They have two good receivers - 84 (Bailey) and 10 (Walker). That is what we are really focusing on.”
In Walker’s absence, Isaiah Hamilton, with eight catches for 109 yards, has been the favorite target of quarterback Josh Love. Love has completed 37 for 61 passes and 413 yards with three TDs with no interceptions.
Morris went into Wednesday’s practice more optimistic about starting linebacker Bumper Pool’s availability against San Jose State than backup weakside linebacker Hayden Henry’s availability Saturday.
Both Pool (clavicle) and Henry (shoulder) were injured during the Colorado State game.
Both dressed out for Wednesday’s practice. During the first 20 minutes it appeared Pool, who practiced on a limited basis Tuesday while Henry did not practice Tuesday, was able to do more than Henry did.
“Bumper worked out yesterday and will go again today,” Morris told media just prior to Wednesday’s workout. “Hayden is doubtful for today. We'll evaluate him again tomorrow.”
Pool seems likely to play Saturday. “Yeah, we'll see how today goes,” Morris said, “but I anticipate him being OK.”
GRANTED HE’S VERSATILE
Junior D’Vone “Pluck” McClure of Rixey via Jacksonville High finished the Colorado State game at weakside linebacker and junior Grant Morgan of Greenwood, the backup to All-SEC senior middle linebacker De’Jon “Scoota” Harris, also plays weakside linebacker.
Morris was asked about his comfort playing middle linebacker Morgan at weakside.
“He's a guy you can put at several positions,” Morris said. “He's relentless and a tough player. Very smart player who played really well last week.”
While always playing on Saturdays, the Razorbacks have eased and sometimes entirely not practiced starting left offensive tackle Colton Jackson of Conway (lingering foot injury) and freshman receiver Trey Knox, the team’s leading receiver with 13 catches for 216 yards and a TD.
Jackson was given Tuesday and Wednesday but is expected to play Saturday. Knox has been nursing a hip injury since the 31-17 SEC loss on Sept. 7 at Ole Miss.
KNOX, BELL PRACTICE
“My hip was a little stiff,” Knox said Tuesday after working out in a green no-contact jersey. “But I’m progressing, getting better every day, so I should be fine.”
Knox did practice Wednesday.
Senior defensive end Jamario Bell, out since injuring a knee during the Aug. 31 season-opening victory over Portland State, has practiced all week and is ready to step in with freshman backup defensive end Zach Williams out several weeks with a knee injury.
“We hope he’ll provide depth that would help us out a bunch,” Morris said, “Obviously his size (6-5, 265), his experience will definitely help those young guys out.”
Junior center Ty Clary of Fayetteville, honored by Pro Football Focus among its national offensive linemen of the week for his performance against Colorado State, joins as this week’s offensive captain representative.