The news on injured Arkansas starting defensive backs Jalen Catalon and Myles Slusher was essentially a non-update on Monday.

Razorback head coach Sam Pittman met with the media on Monday afternoon, but could not say how soon those two players injured in No.19 Arkansas’ 31-24 win over No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday would return to action.

“We are not ready really to figure out exactly Catalon’s situation,” Pittman said. “We haven’t, let’s say that.  Slusher is in the same boat there. I do think (defensive tackle Isaiah) Nichols should be fine.”

Arkansas opens SEC action with visiting South Carolina (1-0) Saturday at 11 a.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Pittman was also asked about the health of tailback Dominque Johnson, who missed the season-opener as he continued to rehab from a knee injury suffered near the end of the 2021 season.

His availability for the game with the Gamecocks, who beat Georgia State 35-14 with the help of 21 special teams points in their opener, will be determined by how he practices this week.

Johnson rushed for 575 yards last season with a team-best seven touchdowns while playing in all 13 games and starting six.

“I hope so,” Pittman said. “ I don’t know. We’re going to put him out there this week — today — and see what he can do. If we feel good about it. … I felt like we were experimenting with him a little bit last week and it was basically ‘I don’t think he’s going to play’ type of experimentation. 

“But we were trying to get him ready for the possibility to play against South Carolina. We’re going to amp up his responsibility and his reps and see what happens. If we feel good about him and, more importantly, if he feels good about it then he’ll play.”

Trent Gordon is listed as the back up at Nickel while Georgi transfer Latavious Brini is listed as second team behind Catalon on the depth chart.

 Defensive back Khari Johnson could provide depth at both spots.

“We don’t know what’s going to go on with Cat,” Pittman said. “We don’t know what’s going to go on with Slush. But I told the staff, we’ve got to be concerned about the ones that are going to be there for sure. We’ve got people that we can move if we need to, Khari Johnson being one of  those guys.”

Khari Johnson played 90 snaps last season, 73 on defense.

“He’s going to have to be able to play both of those,” Pittman said of nickel and safety. “You know we moved him to corner for a reason. We moved him to safety for a reason. But you know, at times last week he was in the two deep at corner. I mean he was running two deep. So he’s a good player. 

“He hasn’t played quite as much, obviously,  as the other guys, but he’s probably going to … He’s smart. He’s probably going to have to be a guy that’s going to have to play both of those spots.”

Pittman said he wasn’t overly concern with the injuries, which he dubbed part of the game.

“No, I’m not real concerned about it,” Pittman said. “The game of football, you may lose someone for a week. You may lose someone for a season. It is what it is. You hate it, but it’s a physical sport, and that’s why they pay us a lot of money, so we can get guys ready to play and recruit players for depth. So, we’ll have to find out on those guys. But if they’re not able to play, we’ll be fine.

 Pittman lauded the play of transfer defense linemen  Landon Jackson (LSU), Terry Hampton (Arkansas State) and Jordan Domineck (Georgia Tech) and his wideouts. 

“Thought they all played well,” Pittman said. “We’ve got something there, we’ve got a little bit more depth. I was pleased with our wide receivers. I don’t think we talked about them much in there, all of them.”

But Pittman notes he needs to see better more from the offensive line and secondary.

“Our o-line’s got to play better, we’ve got to be more consistent with our reads and different things on offense,” Pittman said. “Defensively, we’ve got to play better in the secondary. But all those things, none of it was we’re not playing hard, our eyes are in the wrong spot. We just didn’t cover them sometimes and we didn’t block them sometimes.”

Pittman is hoping his team makes the same type improvement this season as it did last year  when the Razorbacks opened with a sluggish 38-17 win over Rice and then dominated Texas 40-21.

“We’ve got to get better, but if you look back last year, I think the first game to the second game we improved quite a bit,” Pittman said. “That’s an old coach’s cliche, but that’s pretty accurate. You should improve more in the second game. You get game tape, you get live action, so we look for a lot of improvement out of our team.”

The secondary, which gave up 314 yards passing to Cincinnati, could be improved  if defensive backs  Malik Chavis and  LSU transfer Dwight McGlothern get on the field more, but need to practice better per Pittman.

“Well, we have a lot of work to do,” Pittman said. “I think probably Nudie (McGlothern) and (Hudson) Clark – Chavis would be another one – they are still guys that need to get on the field somehow, but they’ve got to practice better to do that. But I think those three are, right now, probably ahead of the rest of them at this point. But we’ll see how practice goes.”

Pittman did note that McGlothern’s interception and 51-yard return to set up Arkansas’ first touchdown  was a key play.

“He’s got to get better,” Pittman said. “Obviously the pick was a huge play in the game. He’s got to be more consistent. That was basically that and some injuries why he was running three at times in camp. But he is a gamer. That’s kind of who he is. We’ve figured that out. 

“He seems to really enjoy it here, and he’s a great kid to be around. I think he’ll just continue to get better and better. I know when…we played LSU and he was over on the other side, he made some really good plays against us.

“He played ball. I trust him. I’m happy he’s here, and I think he’ll just continue to get better and better. That was a big pick he had Saturday.”

Arkansas starting linebackers Bumper Pool (team-leading 13 tackles) and Alabama transfer Drew Sanders (five tackles, sack) both played over 70 plays.

Pool was named the SEC’s Player of the Week and Domineck the league’s defensive linemen of the week.

 Christopher “Pooh” Paul played 17 snaps and Jordan Crook 6 while backing up the starting duo.

Pittman noted that LB coach Mike Scherer thought that was too many for the starters.

“We played the players exactly like, there at linebacker, we wanted to,” Pittman said. “Mike came in and talked about we played those two inside guys too many plays. I said, “No, we didn’t.’ You don’t play games and go, ‘Man, I’m going to take them out for 20 plays so we can get these young guys a rep in a game like that.’ You’re trying to win. 

“Both those inside guys played a lot of plays — 70-something apiece — but we’ve got enough experience with those other two guys. We’ll continue to hopefully they can earn a few more reps each game.”