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Arkansas likely Without Whaley on Saturday, Permanent Captains Elected for Season

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - By Otis Kirk

Junior running back Devwah Whaley will likely miss the Texas A&M game on Saturday as Chad Morris called him "very doubtful."

He was injured in the Auburn game and Morris confirmed on Wednesday what the injury was.

"It's a concussion," Morris said. 

Morris also talked about Rakeem Boyd and the other running backs that will have to step up in this game.

"I think we have seen him get better every week," Morris said of Boyd. "Obviously get in game shape. I think last week was an opportunity for him to continue to show steady improvement. I expect that to continue this week. Obviously T.J. Hammonds coming back is gonna be a benefit for us. Chase Hayden being out there is also going to help us out."

Hammonds missed the Auburn game with an injury while Hayden split carries with Boyd after Whaley left the game. With Boyd being at Texas A&M previously, it is probably going to be emotional for him. How do you balance that out?

"I haven't seen him be too emotional since I been around him," Morris said. "So I don't know how much his emotion can change in everything he does. I am sure a lot of his friends are there. But it's just like every week. Just another game for him."

In addition Arkansas elected four permanent captains for the 2018 team. 

"We got those guys up and coming," Morris said. "Santos (Ramirez), Scoota (De'Jon Harris), Dre Greenlaw and Hjalte (Froholdt) those are our four permanent captains voted on by the team."

How important is it for those four for the team to rally this team and move forward?

"Normally we don't do this until November," Morris said. "I thought it's time and I wanted to see as I shared with each one of them yesterday as we called them out in front of the team, 'There's a lot of honors they will receive with the team during their playing career and course of their life this is probably the most prestigious honor you can get being captain of your team.'

"We'll make note of it. We'll have a wall in this building that we recognize all our team captains from this point forward. It's a big deal to be a captain of your team."

You went half pack yesterday during Tuesday's practice and Hjalte said you might be doing it today. What went into that decision?

"Leadership committee and I talked and there's some things we can take off their legs a little bit," Morris said. "All it is taking the knee pads off of them. They still have their thigh pads and hip pads in. The course of practice doesn't change. It's not live. It's thud to track is what we call it. I just thought from a mental standpoint it's the best thing for us right now. If it was important to them then it was important to me."

In addition, sophomore linebacker Kyrei Fisher announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will redshirt and then transfer at midterm. Fisher is the second player to announce he's leaving the Hogs this week. Senior Jonathan Nance announced it on Monday night. Fisher played in two games in 2017 and had one tackle. Unlike Nance, Fisher won't be a graduate transfer so he will have to sit out a season if he transfers to another D-I school.

Morris was asked had he made any personnel changes on special teams this week?

"Yeah, we have," Morris said. "We have made several personnel changes. Just trying to create the depth we need."

Any update on kick returner - wide receiver De'Vion Warren, wide receiver La'Michael Pettway and offensive tackle Noah Gatlin since they were all wearing green jerseys on Tuesday?

"They are all back out again today," Morris said. "Of course wearing green just means don't hit them."

Do you think they will be available Saturday?

"Yes, I do," Morris said. "Absolutely."

Morris is a graduate of A&M. Any extra motivation for him this week?

 

"No, not really," Morris said. "Just an opportunity for this football team to get better. Get back into an area that's a heavy recruiting base for us in the Dallas area.

"To bring this football team down there. We have a huge alumni fan base. We're expecting a huge crowd so I'm excited to get this team down there and give our best performance."

Against Auburn, Arkansas had more yardage than the Tigers and won the time of possession. But they only managed three points. What do you have to do offensively to get more points?

"Well, we’ve got to be better, one, staying on the field," Morris said. "That’s a combination of things that happen there. You have to be better on first down and we have in some regards, but not good enough. And then you have to be a very efficient third down football team. That’s something we’ve really struggled with."

The Razorbacks have lost six games in a row to the Aggies despite many being close games. Is there a psychological barrier you think you need to help your guys get over when it comes to beating A&M?

"I think the psychological barrier is us in ourselves," Morris said. "Just continuing to get better and eliminate mistakes that is causing some of the inconsistency on all phases of our game right now. That is more the psychological factor that I'm facing each and every day. Just as we continue to get better."

Former Razorback and Green Bay Packer long snapper Brett Goode was the featured speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. He was asked about a team struggling, but making sure a coach gets time to put his program in.

"That’s the hardest part is giving a coach time," Goode said. "Everybody wants to win now. You look across the league and not just the SEC, but you look at a lot of new coaches, the big hires, they’ve been struggling too.

"A lot of that is the players buying in. That’s where it all starts on a new coach and those guys that might have the opportunity to go play in the NFL. Those guys have to buy in. And they have to lead the team."

Special teams have struggled this season. If Morris asked you to be a consultant on special teams is that something you would consider?

"Absolutely, 100 percent," Goode said. "I could definitely bring something to the game. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it. Just like every coach, you’re going to get criticized. I would definitely take a look at it."

Arkansas and A&M will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday in AT&T Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN. 


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