HOGS: Starkel elbow OK; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas starting center Ty Clary worked Tuesday in a green limited practice jersey while starting left offensive tackle Colton Jackson did not practice as the Razorbacks prepared in pads for Saturday night’s SEC game vs. the Kentucky Wildcats.
Arkansas (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the SEC West) and Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 in the SEC East) meet at 6:30 Saturday on the SEC Network at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky.
Clary, the junior from Fayetteville, and Jackson, the senior from Conway, have been in concussion protocol since the 31-27 loss Sept. 28 to Texas A&M. It’s the second concussion protocol this season for Jackson, who since preseason has battled a lingering foot injury then missed the 31-24 loss to San Jose State while in concussion protocol before returning to start against Texas A&M.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops’ Wildcats, not playing since their Sept. 28 loss (24-7) at South Carolina, and Arkansas coach Chad Morris’ Razorbacks come off an open week.
Third-year sophomore Shane Clenin practiced at first-team center Tuesday, while junior college transfer Myron Cunningham worked at first-team left tackle.
Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas’ top running back, expressed optimism after Tuesday’s practice that both will play against Kentucky and its massive defensive line.
“They are just resting right now,” Boyd said. “Those guys will be fine and back on the field Saturday.”
And if they aren’t?
“The other guys are learning stuff, and in any system it’s next-man up,” Boyd said. “I think going into the game we’ll be fine.”
RECEIVERS, HAYDEN RETURN
Previously injured receivers Trey Knox, Mike Woods and De’Vion Warren either sat out or were limited for the open-week practices. They practiced Tuesday and appear to be in the game plan vs. Kentucky. Reserve running back Chase Hayden also practiced Tuesday.
First-team quarterback Nick Starkel injured his left elbow during the Texas A&M game so painfully that he couldn’t grip snaps and was removed from the game. Starkel has practiced all the practices since, including Tuesday’s workout.
“It's doing a lot better,” Starkel said after Tuesday’s practice. “Got all my strength back. Throwing the football around. Feeling good out there.”
Ben Hicks, the early-season starter supplanted by Starkel in the second half of the season’s second game, posted by far his best performance in the A&M game since transferring to Arkansas last January as a graduate transfer from SMU.
“That’s expected,” Starkel said when asked Tuesday about Hicks’ performance. “He’s been in this offense (under former SMU Coach Chad Morris as SMU starting quarterback in 2016 and 2017) a long time and that’s it. One guy goes down, another guy’s got to step right in. It’s not, ‘Hey, get ready!’ It’s ‘Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.’ That’s what we preached, and he did a great job. I came up to him after the game and I said ‘Hey, I’ve got a lot of respect for you and what you did out there today.”
Senior defensive tackle and Hope High graduate McTelvin “Sosa” Agim practiced in full pads Tuesday after resting a sore knee last week.
“It’s basically like a little bruise,” Agim said Tuesday. “A sprain so it’s good to go.”
Freshman defensive end Zach Williams, out the last two games with an injured knee, practices again and seems in Saturday’s 2-deep plan.
Agim was asked about Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith, who also was injured during his last game.
“He’s a gunslinger,” Agim said. “He can throw it downfield. He’s not the quickest, but he definitely can get a couple yards with his feet. If you clear the pocket for him, he can complete it downfield. I think it was like a third-and-21 when I saw him throw a perfect spiral down the field, like easy for a first down against Florida. So, he can do the job.”
Trelon Smith, the versatile redshirting transfer running back via Arizona State, has impersonated Lynn Bowden, Kentucky’s versatile running back/receiver/kick returner/punt returner and direct snap quarterback, on the Arkansas scout team.
Razorbacks on both sides of the ball praised Smith’s talented impersonation. Bowden has netted 348 yards and a touchdown on 30 catches, rushed 13 times for 99 yards with a 7.6 average, completed three of four passes, and returned three punts for 53 yards, and returned eight kickoffs for 200 yards.
“He’s electric,” Arkansas sophomore cornerback Montaric “Buster” Brown said of Bowden. “He can do anything with the ball.”