By Otis Kirk
Arkansas had a short-handed group at tight end on Tuesday with Cheyenne O’Grady out with strep throat and Jeremy Patton having surgery.
Austin Cantrell is the starter at tight end. He talked about what it was like on Tuesday to practice without two of the position’s top players.
“It really wasn’t bad,” Cantrell said. “So last week, we had a couple of guys down, too. Everybody just steps up. I think the tight ends, even the guys that don’t get talked about as much, they step up every week whenever something goes wrong. They help us out.”
Last week, O’Grady caught three passes for 77 yards against Texas A&M. What was your thoughts on the way he stepped up?
“Oh it was awesome,” Cantrell said. “I mean, he made some great plays and it helped us out tremendously. I think he, I don’t remember exactly… I think he caught two passes on that drive that we scored on that made up a majority of the field. So it was big time.”
Junior quarterback Ty Storey has started two games in a row for the Hogs. Cantrell shared his thoughts on how he feels Storey has played.
“He’s just stepping up every game,” Cantrell said. “Here and there it’s different things, he’s just growing as a QB. I really don’t know what to say about it. He’s our guy. We all trust him, the whole offense does. I think we all get behind him. Pretty soon our offense is going to start clicking and it’s going to be pretty good for us.”
Richardson is Back
Kevin Richardson is back and playing for John Chavis on the defensive side of the ball. Richardson was asked on Tuesday night what it’s like under Chavis?
“I’ve only played two games under him but just to see him bring the energy,” Richardson said. “You can see it in the defense and how those guys compete regardless what’s going on in the game. He keeps the defense motivated and makes people feel confident they can go out there and play to their desire and ability.
“To see Chief instilling that energy in everybody and keeping us motivated regardless of what’s going on and what everybody talks about on the outside, we just stay within our locker room, we stay within our defense, we stay within our position coaches. Chief makes sure everybody stays focused. He tell us every day. I wouldn’t want to be on any defense for any other team in the country than right here with what’s going on.”
Arkansas’ defense has continued to get better this season. Getting Richardson and linebacker Dre Greenlaw back has helped. Richardson felt the defense would be a good one this season.
“Coming into the season I already had confidence in the defense with the guys we have coming back and the leadership we have with Dre and Scoota (Harris) and Santos (Ramirez), Sosa (Agim), T.J. Smith and myself, (Ryan) Pulley,” Richardson said. “We have so may leaders coming back and just to have that confidence. All those people can go out and make plays. It’s kind of what we expected coming into the season.”
Richardson broke his ankle prior to the first practice. This was after being granted an extra year to play football. Was there at any time when you first broke your ankle you questioned going through the rehab process again?
“I mean you know God put you through these kind of struggles,” Richardson said. “I never doubted why he put me through this. I kind of kept the faith that there was a reason he wanted me to be here to kind of reach out and kind of branch out and mentor these younger guys and help them grow in this system and help them with this transition in the coaching staff and try to be there to help support them, whether it’s academically, to keep them motivated that they can go out there and play. I never really doubted it. It was frustrating at first, but it’s part of the trials and tribulations. It’s part of football.”
Ramirez Played His Best
Chad Morris complimented safety Santos Ramirez following Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. Morris said it was the best game of the season for Ramirez.
“It’s just taking one day at a time,” Ramirez said. “Each and every day I’m coming out and improving my eyes and reading my keys. The first couple of weeks I was really struggling with my keys and overthinking. I just persevered and just made sure I got back to my basics and it worked out well for me.”
There was a play last week where your helmet came off. You seem pretty fired up about that?
“It raised it tremendously,” Ramirez said. “Just going out there flying around with my brothers. They responded to it as well. I’ve got a passion for this game. I love every minute of it. You can’t ever get those type moments back.”
Count Ramirez among those who are glad to have Kevin Richardson back on the field this season.
“It’s a blessing,” Ramirez said. “His leadership and intelligence of the game. Coming out there and helping us direct players knowing that nickel spot is taken care of and trusted. That makes the defense better as a whole with K-Rich’s intelligence and what he brings to the game as far as making plays.”
Pulley Talks Cornerbacks
Ryan Pulley has been solid at the one cornerback spot, but the other side has seen three different players start.
Chevin Calloway started the first two games, then Britto Tutt the third one and Jarques McClellion the past two. Tutt was injured in the North Texas game and has missed the past two contests.
“They are doing good,” Pulley said. “We got Jarques, we got Buster and we got Britto back today so that’s a blessing. Quez has been playing outstanding, the last two games. Buster, he’s still coming on. He is still getting used to the speed. Those guys are doing great.”
Do the young guys rely on you, talk to you, ask how old you really are?
“I lead them a lot because I feel like I am the oldest in the group and they are young,” Pulley said. “They look at me as a coach. I go out there and do what I have got to do and they learn from it. I telling him what they do wrong and that just take it as coaching. They look at me as a leader and I am going to keep leading those guys.”
Quez has got a lot of run the last three games. How much have you seen him grow in those three games?
“He has grew a lot,” Pulley said. “He asked me at halftime of the last game how he was doing. I said ‘don’t ask me that now because the game is not over.’ He has been doing great. He is doing what he has got to do on the other side honestly.”
Calloway has stepped away from the game for now. Pulley talked about Calloway’s situation.
“He has issues back at home,” Pulley said. “You have got to do what you have got to do with that. I just hope the best for Chevin and just keep doing what he is doing. We will welcome him back with open arms anytime he comes back.”
What about your NFL decision or coming back another year?
“I am leaving that all up to the man above,” Pulley said.
Arkansas will host Alabama on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.