Hogs’ D solid despite loss
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas lost to Texas A&M 31-27 on Saturday in AT&T Stadium, but some defensive players had good efforts.
Among them were end Jamario Bell, tackle T.J. Smith and safety Kamren Curl. Smith was recognized by Pro Football Focus being selected to the national and SEC defensive teams this week. On Tuesday following practice, Kenny Ingram talked about what Smith did so well against the Aggies.
“I think his presence was huge for us up front,” Ingram said. “I think he did a great job trying to be physical at the line of scrimmage, control the line of scrimmage. He got a big sack and strip. He just applied the things we’ve been doing in practice. Got to see it play out in a game.”
Smith and Sosa Agim, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s practice for unknown reasons, are both seniors who have drawn praise for what they bring to the inside spots on the defensive line.
“They have been around
here and are older guys,” Ingram said. “They’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve been able to apply their experience and just been consistent. It’s true.”
Smith finished with two tackles, including one for loss, a sack and forced fumble. Ingram feels that Smith can build off the performance on Saturday.
“Without question, it’s something he can build on,” Ingram said. “It’s something that other guys can watch him. TJ, he’s consistent in practice, he’s consistent in his work ethic, so the other guys get to see it, as well as himself. He’ll get a chance to build off the success he had Saturday.”
Steve Caldwell coaches the defensive ends and had praise for how Jamario Bell played against the Aggies. The senior from Junction City finished with two tackles, including a pair for loss.
“It was good to have him back on the field to start with, and obviously it was his most productive game that he’s had I think since he’s been here, most likely,” Caldwell said. “He’s still not full-speed. Looking forward to getting him back in practice and getting him in better shape and just see if we can progress from what we accomplished last week.”
Bell also had two sacks in the game. What led to those?
“Just kept straining,” Caldwell said. “He kept after it. We call one of them a dirty sack. The first one he got, they flushed him out of the pocket, and Jamario runs well enough that he was straining hard and kept on him and was able to make the play. Basically the same thing on the second one. He came off the edge and just kept pressing the tackle and was able to rip off of him. Just staying after it.”
Curl, who is a junior, has been maybe the most consistent player on defense. He finished Saturday’s game with 12 tackles, including four solo, to lead the Razorbacks. Ron Cooper is pleased with how he’s playing.
“Kam’s been playing really well,” Cooper said. “I’m definitely pleased with him. He’s made several plays, several checks. He understands the scheme. He’s put us in some of the right calls sometimes when we may have needed the right secondary coverage check. I’m really pleased with Kam. He’s done real well.”
Junior quarterback Nick Starkel was practicing on Tuesday. The quarterbacks obviously wear black protective jerseys at all practices and Starkel had a protective sleeve on his left arm. Starkel was injured in the second quarter of Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Freshman wide receiver Trey Knox, who missed the A&M game, wasn’t at practice on Tuesday. Knox, who injured his hip in the Ole Miss game, has been banged up since that game, though he played against Colorado State and San Jose State.
Several Razorbacks practiced in green protective jerseys on Tuesday. Among the six were tight end Cheyenne O’grady, named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week after a careerhigh eight catches for 91 yards, running back Rakeem Boyd, wide receiver’s
Jordan Jones and De’vion Warren, and defensive end’s Gabe Richardson and Zach Williams.
O’grady, Boyd and Richardson played against the Aggies on Saturday. Jones hasn’t played this season while Williams missed the past two games. Warren didn’t play on Saturday against A&M after leaving the San Jose State game with a concussion.
Caldwell talked about how Williams looked on Tuesday and hopes to have him for Kentucky.
“I thought he moved around real well,” Caldwell said. “We’re just not going to put any pressure on that knee as far as making contact with somebody probably until next Monday. I think he’ll be ready for Kentucky. That’s my plan.”
Arkansas will practice again today at 4:20. They will face Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday, Oct. 12, with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.