FAYETTEVILLE — Linebacker Grant Morgan is Arkansas’ leading tackler and injured against Missouri.
He left the Missouri game with an apparent knee injury and didn’t return. Sam Pittman was asked about Morgan’s status this week.
“Grant’s a leader for us,” Pittman said. “Obviously he has not been able to practice yet at this time as of yesterday. We have a lot of confidence in Hayden Henry and Andrew Parker and those guys. They’ve been practicing this week. So I think we’ll be fine there regardless of whether he plays or whether he doesn’t. You lose a lot of tackles, you lose leadership. You certainly don’t want that to happen, but if he’s not able to play, well then, we’ve obviously recruited other linebackers and we’ll go in there and I know they’ll play hard.”
Morgan has 111 tackles on the season with 40 solo and 7.5 for loss. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown against Ole Miss. He has five pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
Henry is a senior and has 22 tackles while Parker is a sophomore with eight tackles. Defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols joined Pittman in expressing confidence in the other linebackers.
“I have faith in whoever else steps up,” Nichols said. “We’ve got Drew Parker he’s vocal. He knows what he’s doing. I’ve had one-on-one talks with him in the car. I have faith in him. I believe in him. Up front we try to learn, at least myself and the other guys on the D-line we try to learn. OK we have this call so this is what I’m supposed to do. To make it easier on the guys behind us who haven’t maybe, who don’t have as much experience. I’ve got to be sound as a defensive tackle it’s my job to pretty much protect the linebackers so whoever is behind me it doesn’t really matter. I’m trying to do my job. I want to make it easier on the linebackers so they can play they game. I have faith in the guys behind me.”
Safety Jalen Catalon also feels the Hogs will get the job done with the replacement.
“It’s just a next-man-up mentality,” Catalon said. “I know we have a lot who are rotating through Hayden Henry, Andrew Parker, Jackson Woodard. I mean, it’s different people rotating in. But it’s just next-man-up mentality. So, whoever’s in starting next at the linebacker position has to come in and be vocal. I know the coaches are also looking to me to kind of be the guy to also make sure everything is lined up well, too. I don’t mind taking on that role and making sure things are running smoothly. But when it comes to a linebacker standpoint, it just has to be next man up, and I believe in the guys that are behind him to do their jobs and take care of business out there. So, I ‘m excited to see them play and excited for this game this weekend.”
Morgan is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and Catalon feels he should win it.
“He deserves it, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Catalon said. “I mean, the way he’s played this whole entire year, the way he’s led as a person and as a player on the field. Just his play itself speaks for itself, as well. So, it’s a no-brainer why he’s on the list, and i”m proud of him. I’ve seen the work he put in to get there, and Coach (Rion) Rhoades has done a great job of putting him in a great position, and he’s just capitalized on the great coaching he’s had. I’m proud of him, and I’m glad he’s getting that recognition because he deserves it.”
Arkansas will take on Alabama Saturday morning at 11 a.m. in Razorback Stadium and televised on ESPN.