FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ defense will get a boost this week with the return of defensive back Myles Slusher and defensive end Jashaud Stewart.
The No. 10 Razorbacks will be in Arlington to take on No. 23 Texas A&M in AT&T Stadium. The return of Slusher is very big. He was injured against Cincinnati and missed both the South Carolina and Missouri State games. Stewart missed the Missouri State game. Sam Pittman was asked about both on Wednesday.
“I think so,” Pittman said of Slusher itching to play. “He’s looked really good. Practiced extremely well. Yes, I think he’s ready to go. We’re glad he’s back. I think he’ll (Stewart) be fine.”
Speaking of defense, linebacker Bumper Pool is closing in on breaking the all-time tackles record at Arkansas. Tony Bua holds the record with 408 tackles. Pool enters the Texas A&M game with 378 tackles.
“You know, I know it would mean everything to him if he could break that record,” Pittman said. “I know it would. To be perfectly honest with you, I think that was a big part of how we got him to come back. I told him when I was talking to him today there’s only one guy in the world who can say they have the most tackles in the history of Arkansas football. There’s not many of those things in life. If he could get it, how long he could keep it I don’t know. He’s such a good person and good kid. I hope he can get that record. I think it would mean a lot to him.”
Pool and his teammates will go on the road for the first time this season. They will play at a neutral site. Pittman referred back to the Missouri State kickoff at 6 p.m. when asked about the night game in Arlington.
“I’m happy that we played a night game last week because our routine for a night game we’ve already done,” Pittman said. “So that, I believe that helps us. It takes a little bit of the anxiety out of it. Travel wise, it’s always kind of cool when you get on the plane. Because there’ll be, I don’t know, several that’s never flown or they’ve only flown once or something like that. And you look around and they’re scared half to death and all those things and it’s always kind of makes me smile you know. A little bit more so a few years back than now. Seems like everybody’s flying around a little bit. You know we did the movie. We’ll do the movies again.
“So, crowd noise wise, I’m so happy that we got the speakers in our indoor now. And we cranked it up in the mid to high 90s, what do you call that, decibels? And hopefully we’ve had it high enough this week. We’ve really done a good job with crowd noise. We’ve stayed inside all week. It’s been hot. We brought in some cooling systems and we’ve stayed inside. We will again today. I think there might be a break in temperature. But we always go indoors on Thursdays, so we may just stay. Our special teams have been outside. In the mid 90s, we’re not trying to wear them out any more than what a typical practice would do.”
As noted earlier this week, it seems sophomore defensive end Landon Jackson, an LSU transfer, is making vast improvement and staying healthy.
“Getting quicker off the ball,” Pittman said. “You’re never worried about a D-lineman that won’t punch in the mouth. I mean, you don’t worry about him. In other words, he doesn’t have that quick twitch, that hip roll, to move you as an offensive lineman. And when he first got here, he didn’t play near as fast as what he is right now. And now you’re seeing him jarring some tackles, jarring some tight ends.
“He’s always been able to run. But you know how it is. It’s like, why does a guy-I don’t know this, but I’m thinking, ‘Why this guy run a 400 meter versus 100 meter?’ Well, maybe it’s his start. I don’t know, but maybe it’s his start. And in football, it’s the same way. The most important thing in my opinion as a defensive end is to have the body frame, but you have to get off the football. And I think that’s the number one thing that he’s improved on since he’s been here.”
Saturday night’s game will be at 6 p.m. and televised on ESPN.