Hogs QB sit­u­a­tion up in the air

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE - Both on Wed­nes­day morn­ing’s SEC Coaches/me­dia tele­con­fer­ence and his Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon pre-prac­tice press con­fer­ence, Arkansas Coach

Chad Mor­ris didn’t re­veal the Ra­zor­backs’ start­ing quar­ter­back for Satur­day’s SEC West game against the Mis­sis­sippi State Bull­dogs but did say Ben Hicks is healthy to be back in the mix.

Grad­u­ate trans­fer Hicks missed last Satur­day’s 48-7 SEC West loss at Alabama af­ter in­jur­ing his left shoul­der dur­ing the pre­vi­ous Satur­day’s 51-10 SEC West loss to Auburn at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium in Fayet­teville.

Hicks prac­ticed Tues­day and was set again to prac­tice Wed­nes­day along with grad­u­ate trans­fer Nick Starkel, the other start­ing quar­ter­back for the 2-6 Ra­zor­backs, and red­shirt fresh­man John Stephen Jones and true fresh­man KJ Jef­fer­son. The Ra­zor­backs, 0-5 in the SEC, prep for Satur­day’s 3 p.m. SEC Net­work tele­vised game at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium against Coach Joe Moor­head’s Bull­dogs, 3-5, 1-4.

“They all got reps yes­ter­day but Ben was def­i­nitely looked as healthy as I’ve seen him in quite some time,” Mor­ris said Wed­nes­day.

Jones’ prac­tice in­creased this week af­ter re­liev­ing Starkel against Alabama and quar­ter­back­ing Arkansas’ lone scor­ing drive com­plet­ing a touch­down pass to tight end Cheyenne O’grady.

Jef­fer­son has not played so far but could play in all four of Arkansas’ re­main­ing games and re­tain a red­shirt for fresh­man el­i­gi­bil­ity in 2020.

“We’ve ro­tated those guys around with John Stephen get­ting some time with the ones and KJ was in there get­ting some reps as he has for the last sev­eral weeks and do­ing a good job, a re­ally good job,” Mor­ris said just be­fore Wed­nes­day’s work­out. “Just try­ing to make sure that we just keep him de­vel­op­ing and on track for what we do.”

Moor­head on his por­tion of the SEC call was asked about Hicks, Starkel and

Jones, since all three have played.

“You get cross­over film through­out the course of the sea­son and cer­tainly Starkel, Hicks and the young kid Jones came in and did a nice job at the end of the Alabama game and led a touch­down drive,” Moor­head said. “So it’s dif­fi­cult to pre­pare for all three. I don’t know the sys­tem nec­es­sar­ily changes based on who is in the game, but you cer­tainly have seen glimpses of pro­duc­tion out of all three of those guys.”

Mor­ris was asked about third-year sopho­more Shane Clenin be­com­ing Arkansas’ third dif­fer­ent start­ing left guard in three weeks.

Se­nior Austin Capps, out since a con­cus­sion dur­ing the Auburn game, and third-year sopho­more Kirby Ad­cock, start­ing against Alabama but con­cussed dur­ing the game, are doubt­ful against Mis­sis­sippi

State. Nei­ther has prac­ticed this week.

“We’ve def­i­nitely had to have some ro­ta­tion this year due to in­juries,” Mor­ris said. ”Es­pe­cially as of late. And Shane did a good job when he stepped in there last Satur­day. He did a good job at fill­ing some voids and did some good things. He’ll con­tinue to come along and get bet­ter. We have to make sure we have a plan if we have any more in­juries. So Shane will be work­ing some at cen­ter (be­hind ju­nior starter Ty Clary) as well.”

Clenin also has worked at re­serve tackle. A series of con­cus­sions, foot and back in­juries com­pelling se­nior start­ing left tackle Colton Jack­son of Con­way this week to re­tire from foot­ball. So ju­nior-col­lege trans­fer My­ron Cun­ning­ham starts again at left tackle.

True fresh­men Beaux Lim­mer and Brady Latham be­come of­fen­sive line sec­ond-team­ers, while true fresh­man Ricky Stromberg since early sea­son has started at right guard.

“It’s a next-man-up men­tal­ity,”mor­ris said. “So we try to do a good job of bring­ing some of these fresh­men along - Beaux Lim­mer and Brady Latham and some of those guys. We know what Ricky’s done for us. When you have mul­ti­ple in­juries it forces you to try to find your next best five and that means just slid­ing guys around. It’s not the ideal thing, but it’s the thing you do.”

Ju­nior Chase Hay­den hasn’t played be­hind top Arkansas run­ning backs Ra­keem Boyd and Devwah Wha­ley since to­tal­ing 12 car­ries play­ing the first four games. Seems now Hay­den won’t play an­other in 2019. Hay­den is el­i­gi­ble un­der the four-game max­i­mum rule to red­shirt and be a ju­nior in 2020 while un­played true fresh­man A’mon­tae Spivey could play in the fi­nal four games and still be a 2020 fresh­man.

“Right now where we’re at with our run­ning back po­si­tion, he’s al­ready played his four games and our plans are try­ing to red­shirt him if we can,” Mor­ris said.

Mor­ris was asked how sopho­more start­ing cor­ner­back Jar­ques Mcclel­lion re­sponded to his coaches chal­leng­ing him bench­ing him in the sec­ond half against Alabama.

“I thought he had a good day (Tues­day),” Mor­ris said Wed­nes­day. “He’ll re­spond to the chal­lenge. It’s just some­thing that you just come back to work and put your head down and try to get bet­ter and that’s what he did.”

Mor­ris went into Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice pleased with the Hogs’ Tues­day prac­tice re­solve.

“It was good both sides of the ball,” Mor­ris said. “One of the bet­ter Tues­day prac­tices that we’ve had. There’s still a lot left in this sea­son and it starts this Satur­day against Mis­sis­sippi State.”

The Ra­zor­backs play three of their last four games in Arkansas. Af­ter host­ing Mis­sis­sippi State Satur­day, they host West­ern Ken­tucky Nov. 9 non­con­fer­ence at 11 a.m. on the SEC Net­work at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium and close the cam­paign Nov. 29 host­ing Mis­souri in a 1:30 p.m. SEC game on CBS at War Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Lit­tle Rock.

For its last road 2019 trip Arkansas meets the na­tion­ally No. 1 LSU Tigers in a Nov. 23 SEC West game in Ba­ton Rouge, Lou­i­si­ana.

Mor­ris was asked about an in­ter­net out­fit, HOTSEAT.COM, putting Moor­head No. 1 and Mor­ris No. 2 on its coaches on the hot seat.

“Oh well, you can’t con­trol what other peo­ple say and that’s the least of my wor­ries,” Mor­ris replied. “My wor­ries are mak­ing sure that this foot­ball team con­tin­ues to get bet­ter ev­ery day.”

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