HOGS getting healthy for Ole MIss
FAYETTEVILLE - Missing with injuries from last week’s 30-28 loss at Auburn, Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd, receiver Treylon Burks and tight end Hudson Henry have practiced this week and should play Saturday against Ole Miss.
The Razorbacks (1-2) and the Rebels (1-2) clash at 2:30 p.m. on the SEC Network in an SEC West game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Pittman was less certain regarding cornerback Montaric “Busta” Brown, who was injured during the 21-14 win at Mississippi State and did not travel to Auburn, Ala.
Arkansas starting linebackers Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool did not practice last week following injuries against Mississippi State but did play against Auburn. Pittman said he would hold both out of contact this week hoping they could play against Ole Miss.
COVID AT OLE MISS
While the Hogs nurse injuries, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin crossed fingers that the SEC’s mandated Thursday game-week test for the covid-19 coronavirus would reveal he has enough healthy Rebels to field a team.
“We are dealing with our first covid issues of the season,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “That’s been a big challenge this week.”
Pittman said Thursday afternoon he heard nothing from Ole Miss regarding requesting a postponement.
“As I’m aware, we’re going to play,” Pittman said. “Obviously, there was a test this morning for all SEC teams.”
So far this week because of players who tested covid-19 positive or quarantined through contract tracing, Saturday SEC games of LSU vs. Florida and Missouri vs. Vanderbilt have been postponed as has the Cincinnati vs. Tulsa game in the American Athletic Conference.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for covid-19.
The last time Arkansas won an SEC home football game current Razorbacks QB Feleipe Franks was on the other side as a Florida Gator.
Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks won 31-10 that Nov. 5, 2016 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Bielema, Chad Morris, interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. for two games and Pittman for these current 1-2 Razorbacks have coached consecutive SEC home losses since the Hogs flogged Florida back in 2016.
Having snapped a 20-game SEC skid by winning two weeks ago at Mississippi State, the Hogs get a chance to snap the SEC home skein Saturday against Ole Miss.
“I made that trip,” Franks recalled. “I remember like it was yesterday actually coming in here and playing.”
Franks became Florida starting QB in 2017 and 2018 and the first three games of 2019 until a broken ankle ended his Florida career and established Kyle Trask as the Gators QB and caused Franks to come to Arkansas.
Winning in Fayetteville is the next streak to break for Pittman’s Hogs.
Pittman, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and defensive coordinator Barry Odom have all stressed winning at home.
“Coach Briles says it every week defend your house,” Arkansas junior right offensive tackle Dalton Wagner said. “No matter who rolls in there, we expect to defend our field. It means a lot to be able to play in there.”
Wagner said the Hogs cannot afford their sluggish start that led to a 17-0 deficit last week at Auburn before they roared back to lead 28-27 late.
“We shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes, but this offense has cleaned up every week,” Wagner said. “Coach Briles does an excellent job with his play-calling and making sure, especially during the week, that everybody is in the right spots and we clean up our errors.”
Wagner came off the bench against Auburn with starting right tackle Noah Gatlin injured on the game’s first series. Arkansas senior Ty Clary, last year’s starting center set back this season by illness and injury, also came off the bench at Auburn to play at guard.
“Me and Ty were happy to get a shot, assist the team,” Wagner said. “When your number is called, you get up in there and you do your job, and that's what we did, and we moved the ball. We were happy to do that.”