HOGS prep for talented A&M; Notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Grant Morgan was fielding questions again Tuesday, more than a week since his 19 tackles with a pick-six against Ole Miss earned national acclaim.
Arkansas’ fifth-year senior linebacker and the 2-2 Razorbacks visit No. 8 Texas A&M (3-1) at 6:30 Saturday night at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
Razorbacks redshirt freshman cornerback Hudson Clark, redshirt freshman safety Jalen Catalon and redshirt freshman offensive guard Brady Latham also merited national attention during the bye week.
“It's been good,” Morgan said of digesting the accolades and moving on to the Aggies. “A lot of guys have brought a great attitude and they've really just shown that they weren't about those awards. They were about trying to win those football games, and people are trying to take the right steps, knowing that Texas A&M is the next opponent and that is the only thing on our mind.
“Everyone has dived into video film more than ever just because the past two weeks.”
Morgan, the former walk-on and backup linebacker from Greenwood, says he celebrates wins, not accolades.
“I’m handling it fine,” Morgan replied. “I’m not surprised that I was getting this because I’ve been working super hard. But at the end of the day, I’m here for the wins and losses. I don’t really care about all that other stuff. If I have zero tackles the rest of the year and we win every single game, I promise you I’ll be re-Tweeting and posting more about it than what happened this past couple of weeks.”
MOND AND SPILLER
If Morgan’s head were swelling, watching film of A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller operating behind an offensive line that upset Florida would size it back to normal.
An old Southwest Conference rival that Arkansas beat from 2009-2011 non-conference when the Aggies were in the Big 12, A&M has defeated Arkansas every year since going the SEC in 2012.
Mond, a senior, has been influential in the last ones. Sophomore Spiller averages 6.7 yards per carry this season.
“Kellen Mond is coming back,” Morgan said. “He's super good. Spiller is really good. Their whole O-line is coming back. It’s the same guys we've been playing over the past, but it's a team that looks revitalized. They look like a Top-10 team.”
Arkansas has faced big-time running backs in its first four games, but none more big-time than Spiller, Morgan said.
“Spiller is probably the best ‘back we faced,” Morgan said. “He runs super hard. He hits his gaps. He has the best vision we've seen. I think the reason why he's that good is because their O-line is that good. Their O-line is super experienced.”
The bye week and this game week have provided healing time for Razorbacks like linebacker Bumper Pool and defensive end Dorian Gerald (out with injuries) and for Morgan and running back Rakeem Boyd playing despite injuries.
BACK TO A&M
Boyd, preseason All-SEC after netting 1,133 yards in 2019 despite Arkansas’ horrific 2-10 season, has struggled with injuries this season. He returns healthier to College Station where he redshirted in 2016 as an Aggie freshman before transferring to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in 2017 and then to Arkansas as a 2018 sophomore.
“I haven't really talked to him about it,” Arkansas starting QB Feleipe Franks said of Boyd returning to Aggieland. “I can just tell that in everybody's eyes, including Rakeem, he's excited to get back out there. He's feeling a lot better. His ankle is feeling a lot better, and he's ready to get back out there and go 100 percent again. He had a really good practice today and we need to build on that tomorrow.”
FRANKS ON AGGIES
Franks said A&M’s defense was “ranked No. 8 for a reason. I think they’ve got really good players up front and in the secondary as well. They’ve got a good all-around defense. It’s just about going out and executing our offense and executing what we’re coached to do throughout the week.”
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said it’s time the special teams not only prevent big plays from the opposition but spring big plays of their own.
Senior receiver/kick returner De’Vion Warren said there’s no pressure to deliver the spectacular, but just consistently make routine plays.
“We just have to go out there and do what we're coached to do,” Warren said. “We have to fill our lanes. We have to block our people. We have to give our returners a chance, and we have to stop the opponents. We have to punt well. We just have to make special teams a different game. We have to go out there and play well and give great effort. That's what we have to do."