HOGS: O line faces BIG challenge
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas starting fifth-year senior tackle Colton Jackson of Conway was not cleared because of concussion protocol to practice Wednesday and appears doubtful to play in Saturday night at Kentucky.
Arkansas (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the SEC West) and Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 in the SEC East) play at 6:30 p.m. in Lexington, Ky. The SEC Network will televise the game.
It’s the second time this season that Jackson, missing the 31-24 loss to San Jose State because of concussion protocol following Arkansas’ victory over Colorado State, has been in concussion protocol. He has not practiced since the Razorbacks played Sept. 28 in their 31-27 SEC West loss to Texas A&M.
Could Jackson be ready is he were cleared for today’s final practice in Fayetteville before the Hogs head to Lexington?
“It all depends on where we are and if we feel he’s confident of playing,” Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said. “We’d like for our guys to go through practice as much as possible if we can and get some type of run-through and some type of contact on them. We’re just going to wait and see.”
CUNNINGHAM TRIES AGAIN
It appears Myron Cunningham, a starting guard/backup tackle early in the season and starting for Jackson at left tackle against San Jose State but benched entirely for the A&M game, will start at left tackle against Kentucky.
“Myron has gotten game experience this year,” Morris said. “I expect Myron to step in at left tackle and be just fine. I don’t have a problem with that.”
Junior receiver Jordan Jones of Smackover, sidelined since a severe high ankle sprain during the August preseason, tried to practice Wednesday but seems “doubtful,” Morris said, for Saturday’s game.
CLARY STILL LIMITED
Morris said on the SEC teleconference he expected junior starting center Ty Clary of Fayetteville, also in concussion protocol since the Texas A&M game, to practice full go Wednesday afternoon.
However, during Wednesday’s first 20 minutes of practice that media is allowed to view, Clary was still clad in the green limited practice jersey he wore Tuesday.
Third-year sophomore Shane Clenin has worked at first-team center in contact sessions since the open date practices.
LITERALLY BIG CATS
Whoever lines up on Arkansas’ offensive line Saturday night at the Wildcats’ Kroger Field faces a literally big challenge.
UK coach Mark Stoops alternates mountainous Quinton Bohanna (6-4, 361) and Marquan McCall (6-3, 371) with Calvin Taylor (6-9, 300) and Abule-Abadi-Fitzgerald (6-6, 290) at defensive tackle. In the Wildcats’ three-down linemen scheme, alternating defensive ends T.J Carter and Kordell Looney go 6-4, 287 and 6-3, 292.
Getting low is the leverage lowdown that Arkansas’ offensive line must have, Morris said.
“You better be able to play with a low pad level,” Morris said. “They are big. They’re physical. They play with their hands and do a great job of separating and coming off those blocks. We have to do a great job of getting a hat on hat to give ourselves a chance.”
Razorbacks running backs Rakeem Boyd and Devwah Whaley must do their part to keep quarterback Nick Starkel operating a two-dimensional rather than a too pass reliant offense.
“We are going to have to break some tackles,” Morris said. “Run through some tackles.”
Senior running back Devwah Whaley, Boyd’s top backup, was not spotted during the Wednesday work’s first 20 minutes.
UK CONTRASTING QBs
Kentucky also comes off an open date, last playing Sept. 28 in a 24-7 SEC East loss at South Carolina, and playing it coy about its starting QB.
After losing starter Terry Wilson with a season-ending injury in the season’s second game, Stoops has relied on junior Sawyer Smith at QB.
Smith, though he finished the game, was injured during the South Carolina game and rested during the open week. Smith and versatile receiver/running back/kick and punt returner Lynn Bowden, have worked some at quarterback this week, Stoops acknowledged. Bowden is a former high school quarterback.
“All quarterbacks were out there Monday and Tuesday and will be out there today,” Stoops said. “and I’m not going to get into much more detail than that.”
Morris was asked about preparing for two QBs, one a conventional dropback passer and the other averaging 7.6 yards as a Wildcat formation QB and running reverses as a receiver, completing three of his four passes launched, one for 32 yards.
“Obviously, putting Lynn in there is going to add a whole new dynamic,” Morris said. “It’s going to pull one of their best weapons at wide receiver into a quarterback where he’s touching the ball every play. I anticipate him playing some quarterback. And I think Sawyer is going to play as well. It’s whoever gets a hot hand, they probably are going to stay with it.”