Ra­zor­backs starters falling into place

The Saline Courier - - SPORT - By Nate Allen

Ra­zor­back Re­port

FAYETTEVIL­LE - It’s not just quar­ter­backs cap­tur­ing Arkansas Coach

Chad Mor­ris’ at­ten­tion as the Ra­zor­backs went into Wed­nes­day’s late af­ter­noon into evening scrim­mage.

The as of Tues­day still pub­licly an­nounced as un­re­solved quar­ter­back bat­tle be­tween grad­u­ate trans­fers Ben Hicks (Mor­ris’ 2016 and 2017 start­ing quar­ter­back at SMU) and Nick Starkel of Texas A&M has riv­eted the most me­dia at­ten­tion since Starkel’s June ar­rival af­ter Hicks trans­ferred in Jan­uary and in­stantly be­came first­team dur­ing spring ball.

But com­pe­ti­tion rages else­where, par­tic­u­larly at right of­fen­sive guard and wide re­ceiver, and through­out the sec­ond units of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively and at punter.

Mor­ris and of­fen­sive line coach Dustin Fry have tried a va­ri­ety of right guard can­di­dates start­ing with third-year sopho­more Shane Clenin and in­clud­ing sopho­more Kirby Ad­cock, true fresh­man Ricky Stromberg and ju­nior-col­lege trans­fer My­ron Cun­ning­ham.

If se­nior in­cum­bent left tackle Colton Jack­son of Con­way proves fit since this week’s re­turn from a foot in­jury, then it seems likely Cun­ning­ham, also the backup left tackle, starts at right guard.

“My­ron’s re­ally ath­letic,” Mor­ris said af­ter Tues­day’s prac­tice. “We’ve thought if some­thing hap­pens to Colton, he’s def­i­nitely your left tackle. But be­cause he’s got a chance to be re­ally spe­cial, he’s def­i­nitely in that ro­ta­tion. So right now it’s My­ron at right guard, Ty (Clary) at cen­ter and Colton at left tackle.”

Ad­cock has worked at left guard while se­nior first-team left guard Austin Capps mends from last week’s rel­a­tively mi­nor arthro­scopic knee surgery.

Mor­ris as­serts he ex­pects se­nior first-team Mackey Award can­di­date tight end Cheyenne O’grady, also re­cent arthro­scopic knee surgery, and Capps to be ready to game-week prac­tice for the Aug. 31 sea­sonopener against Port­land

State at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium.

Ju­nior Grayson Gunter and se­nior sec­ond-year trans­fer Chase Har­rell have been lauded for their tight end reps in O’grady’s ab­sence.

In­juries (sea­son-end­ing) to se­nior Deon Ste­wart and likely out of the sea­sonopen­ing game plan to ju­nior Jor­dan Jones and third-year sopho­more Koilan Jack­son thin a re­ceiver corps that did re­cruit well adding touted fresh­men Trey Knox, Trey­lon Burks, and T.Q. Jack­son to sopho­more Mike Woods and ju­nior De’vion War­ren.

Scrim­mag­ing top run­ning backs Ra­keem Boyd, Devwah Wha­ley and Chase Hay­den enough to weather some needed con­tact but not over­worked risk­ing their health is al­ways a Mor­ris con­cern.

Mor­ris went into Wed­nes­day’s fi­nal scrim­mage of the pre­sea­son sim­i­larly weigh­ing work vs. health on a first de­fense that seems set with Gabe Richard­son and Do­rian Ger­ald on the ends, se­niors Mctelvin “Sosa” Agim and T.J. Smith at tack­les, se­nior De’jon “Scoota” Har­ris and sopho­more Bumper Pool as the lineback­ers and a sec­ondary of cor­ner­backs Jar­ques Mc­clel­lion, Mon­taric “Buster” Brown, true fresh­man nickel back Greg Brooks and safeties Kam­ren Curl and Joe Foucha.

Keep­ing Pre­sea­son ALLSEC main­stays Har­ris and Agim healthy and pro­vid­ing am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for a mostly young sec­ond-team de­fense op­por­tu­ni­ties marked a Wed­nes­day pri­or­ity.

“We re­ally have a re­ally good idea of who our top guys are,” Mor­ris said. “But you’re go­ing to win in this league with guys be­hind them. So, de­vel­op­ing those sec­ond guys be able to come into a ma­jor ro­ta­tion is go­ing to be crit­i­cal for us.”

Last year’s punt­ing night­mare has be­come this year’s dream.

Af­ter beat­ing out since trans­ferred schol­ar­ship punter Blake John­son by punt­ing su­perbly against Texas A&M last year, walk-on Reid Bauer so fal­tered through the late sea­son into the spring that the Ra­zor­backs leaped at the chance in the NCAA trans­fer por­tal to sign for­mer Van­der­bilt punter Sam Loy via the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado.

Loy has boomed them in prac­tice but Bauer has rose to the chal­lenge re­cap­tur­ing his form of that A&M game.

“Those guys have a great com­pe­ti­tion go­ing” Mor­ris said Tues­day.

“We’re go­ing to put them in some sit­u­a­tions to­mor­row just to nar­row that down.”

Se­nior Connor Lim­pert, a Lou Groza Award semi­fi­nal­ist last year kick­ing 19 of 24 field goals, seals the place­kick­ing post and also kicks off.

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