FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Sam Pittman is wisely using this week to get some injured players healthy and let some who are dealing with nagging stuff also heal.
Starting offensive tackle Dalton Wagner hasn’t played since being injured earlier in the season. Defensive lineman Markell Utsey also missed the last two games with injuries and defensive tackle John Ridgeway has been battling some nagging injuries.
“I think all of them will be game ready,” Pittman said Wednesday. “And I don’t think it’s a, to be honest with you, I don’t think it’s a question. I think everybody will be ready to play.”
Pittman feels after playing Texas A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn in a row the bye week came at a perfect time.
“I think it’s huge,” Pittman said. “I would assume even if you weren’t playing an SEC (team) — those four we played right there that stated with A&M — I think you would need some type of break, some type of mental break, some type of getting healthy break. It’s been really important to us. We’ve got good team chemistry, we’re trying to talk about making this run and seeing if we can do it. Our kids, if we can get healthy, our 1s can compete real well — I know we have to continue to get better depth if we lose guys, which is our responsibility. I just think it’s really big and I think the kids … I’ll just say this: walkthroughs, we’re doing extra film work, so it’s not like it’s a shortened-down day. We’re spending more time in the film vs. Mississippi State and trying to get that in their brain mentally. And then we’re walking. It went really well yesterday and knock on wood we didn’t get any young kids hurt in the scrimmage. It went really well, so that’s why we stayed with the same format.”
Arkansas looked at several young defensive backs in the 45-3 win over UAPB this past Saturday. Pittman feels there will be some competition for playing time in the back end of the defense going forward.
“I do,” Pittman said. “Yeah, I do. I feel like we’ve got some competition back there, certainly between (Simeon) Blair, (Greg) Brooks, Jayden Johnson and (Myles) Slusher. I think that’s an ongoing competition, as well as at corner. I think those are two competitions going on. We certainly have a running back competition, wide receiver competition. We’ve got to figure who we want to play at slot, as far as our No. 2 slot. Those things are going on now. It’s a good week to find out about some of the younger guys and see if they can do something well enough and are ready enough mentally to go play in an SEC game.”
Arkansas will play host to Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.