HOGS: QB Storey returns; in-depth notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas junior quarterback Ty Storey took first-team snaps Tuesday after undergoing concussion protocol since a 37-33 loss Saturday to Ole Miss.
Storey likely will start when the Razorbacks (1-6) play host to Tulsa (1-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said Storey was monitored “hourly” during Monday’s off day after a head injury.
“It actually looked like there was nothing wrong with him,” junior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady said. “He came out to (Tuesday's) practice ready to go and had a great day.”
O'Grady and teammates were surprised to see Storey, who absorbed the first of two hard hits in the first half.
“Oh yeah, based off of what happened last game, I was kind of scared for him,” O’Grady said. “He got hit right in the ribs and then the second time he got hit and smacked his head on the ground, I was kind of scared. I thought he was going to be out for a while, but to see him out there today just speaks a lot of his character. He’s a great guy.”
Junior left tackle Colton Jackson of Conway was more measured but still optimistic that Storey, practicing in a non-contact jersey as all QBs are, will be cleared for Saturday’s game.
“He's doing pretty good,” Jackson said. “I think he's progressing faster than expected, but he's doing pretty good.”
Storey took his game-exiting hit Saturday, banging his way for 10 yards and a first down when he could have avoided contact by stepping out of bounds a yard short.
“He's a player,” Jackson said. “If you've got a quarterback who can take those licks, though some might be unnecessary, to get those extra yards, you love a quarterback like that."
O’Grady and Jackson said it would lift the team Saturday, if Storey could quarterback.
BOYD, AGIM READY
Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd and defensive end Sosa Agim, both injured against Ole Miss, practiced full go Tuesday. Boyd, sidelined by a back injury during Saturday’s first half, ran for 109 yards, including a 69-yard TD.
“Rakeem is looking fresh again,” O’Grady said. “Just based off seeing him running around, he looked just fine.”
Boyd also surpassed 100 yards (102 on 15 carries) in the 65-31 SEC loss to No. 1 Alabama two Saturdays ago in Fayetteville.
“Rakeem just gets better and better each week,” Jackson said. “He studies hard, hits the holes and makes guys miss. You just know if you open a hole for that guy, any kind of seam, he's gonna break out.”
Senior right guard Johnny Gibson of Dumas, practicing in a green jersey last week because of an undisclosed injury but able to play against Ole Miss, practiced in a green jersey Tuesday but presumably will play against Tulsa.
Gibson played most of the game against Ole Miss. When Gibson was rested, senior left guard Hjalte Froholdt moved to right guard, and junior Austin Capps of Star City stepped up from second team to first team left guard.
Froholdt at right guard and Capps at left guard appeared to be the preferred arrangement during Tuesday’s practice.
REVIEWING OLE MISS
During his Monday press conference, Morris discussed the Razorbacks leading 27-17 at halftime and 33-24 after three quarters over Ole Miss yet losing 37-33 in the rain at Little Rock.
“Defensively I thought we played well in the first half,” Morris said. “We gave up one drive right before half that was disappointing. But with the explosiveness of their offense and the experience they have at quarterback (Jordan Ta’amu) and wide receiver, we had to change up our looks to try to keep him off-balance and try to get him off his spot. When we did get him off his spot, he made us pay. They had 13 explosive plays.
"Obviously, the quarterback run game, whether it was a designed quarterback draw or just letting everybody drop and pulling the ball down and go and finding a rush lane. We struggled to stay with their wide receivers across the middle. We only created one turnover. We were very poor on third-down efficiency.
"But with all that being said, if you asked me right now, with 97 yards to go, what unit you want on the field, I’m going to put our defense on the field. I want that group on the field.”
The offense didn’t provide much second half help,’ Morris said. "We just didn’t make the plays to get it done. We couldn’t match TDs with field goals. We needed a stop. We needed one stop. We needed one touchdown, and we were unable to do it.”
MCCLELLION STEPS UP
Although burned for a TD catch, redshirt freshman cornerback Jarques McClellion, a starter since sophomore Chevin Calloway withdrew from football, played his best game against Ole Miss, Morris said.
Apprised of Morris’ comment after Tuesday’s practice, McClellion said, “I gave up a touchdown in the end zone, but yeah, I played my best game. I felt like I could have done better. And each and every day I’m my worst critic, so I’m just going to keep playing better and better until I can’t stop.”
McClellion’s battlefield promotion has been appreciated, said sophomore starting safety Kamren Curl, a starting corner last year.
“He’s come out and stepped up,” Curl said. “Good thing because somebody had to step up. He’s adjusted and is playing really good.”
Not pleased that his best defensive back, junior cornerback Ryan Pulley, was ejected from Saturday’s game for unsportsmanlike conduct with Ole Miss running out the clock, Morris hinted that Pulley might not start against Tulsa.
Players under SEC rules automatically miss the next half of the next game if ejected for fighting, but fighting was not involved in Pulley’ unsportsmanlike conduct.
In any event, redshirt freshman Montaric “Buster” Brown split time Tuesday with Pulley.
Despite pouring rain all game, Arkansas place-kicker Connor Limpert, off the snaps from Jordan Silver and the holds of Jack Lindsey, kicked four field goals of 43, 38, 38 and 36 yards in four attempts and three of three PATs against Ole Miss.
“I can’t say enough about Jack Lindsey and Connor Limpert and Jordan Silver,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. “Given the weather conditions and the ability to get the ball down and get the ball through the uprights was huge. These units continue to improve, which is a plus as this football team continues to grow.”
Limpert never gave it a thought that the inclement weather could rain on his parade.
“No, I love it,” Limpert said. “You just have to think like it's 72 degrees out and sunny.”
Especially with the snap-hold-kick so precise.
“Yeah, we definitely have gotten a groove going,” Limpert said. “I’m loving it, and we're going to keep it going through the rest of the season.”
MORRIS’ TULSA ROOTS
As SMU coach from 2015-2017, Morris annually coached against fellow American Athletic Conference member Tulsa. Morris never forgets that Tulsa is where he got his college coaching start as the 2010 offensive coordinator for former Tulsa coach Todd Graham.
“It’s a very special place,” Morris said. “I had my opportunity to get into college football there. A lot of great people, great friends. I wasn’t there very long, but to know what that city and the people and the university have done and have meant to me ... I wouldn’t be here today without them.”