FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas was missing several key players against San Jose State this past Saturday and during Tuesday’s practice.
However, Arkansas coach Chad Morris expects to have many of them back this weekend when they face Texas A&M.
“Chase Hayden will be out,” Morris said. “Treylon Burks will be back. Trey Knox should be fine, good to go. We kept him out yesterday more a precautionary to try to get him an extra day.”
Hayden had missed Tuesday’s practice as well.
“He’s in concussion protocol,” Morris said. “That’s all I know right now.”
In addition, cornerback Montaric Brown practiced on Tuesday without a protective jersey. Linebacker Bumper Pool and offensive tackle Colton Jackson both had green protective jerseys at practice. Morris said Wednesday that Jackson is available this week.
Arkansas will have junior T.J. Hammonds back this week after a four-game suspension.
“T.J. Hammonds will be a part of us and a part of our game plan as well,” Morris said.
Hammonds worked at both running back and wide receiver during Tuesday’s practice. Morris talked about how Hammonds handled the suspension.
“I think we all know he’s incredibly fast, so he adds speed to our offense,” Morris said. “The way he handled it would be exactly what I expected, that he would get down on scout team and give great looks and be a part and be engaged and continue to work hard in the weight room and come out to work with a spectacular attitude. That’s what he did, so for that, I think he’s grown from the experience and we’re excited to have him back.”
Nick Starkel will make his third start of the season on Saturday. The former Texas A&M quarterback threw five interceptions last week in part because he said he was trying to force some things. How does Morris keep him from being too hyped to play against his former team?
“You can only do that so much,” Morris said. “He obviously spent some time there, graduated from there. He has an understanding of his (former) teammates. You know, he invested his time there. I’m sure deep down he sees this as an opportunity.
“It’s the next game, but watching Nick and watching him perform this week and prepare this week, it’s just his maturity level. I would think nothing less than Nick being focused and locked in on his preparation and his ability to move this offense and elevate his teammates.”
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t expecting anything less than Starkel’s best on Saturday.
“He’s an extremely classy guy and a very, very good player,” Fisher said. “Like I said, Nick is definitely a starter. He could have started here, and could be, it’s just the situation. It was a tough battle and only one can play, and he elected to (transfer). He is a class, class individual who can play.
“I think he’ll bounce back. He’s a very good player. He’s very competitive and smart. He knows when he makes mistakes. He was a competitor here in practice. He had a tough day, the next day you could bank that next day was going to be a really good day. This guy is a heck of a player, very competitive and he’ll be ready to play. He’ll be ready to play.”
Morris said senior running back Devwah Whaley will be the fourth captain this week. He also said to expect true freshman Jalen Catalon to see some action this week. Morris also said prior to Wednesday’s practice that John Chavis will be upstairs this week. He has been on the sideline since the second half of the Mississippi State game in 2018.
“Yeah, that’s what we’re going to do,” Morris said. “I just think it goes with everything else. It kind of changes the routine a little bit. Gets him an opportunity to be upstairs and see some adjustments and be able to communicate it down on the field. It’s just part of us just kind of changing things up.”
Morris also said that no player has stated to him plans to redshirt and transfer. Last year after four games wide receiver Jonathan Nance and linebacker Kyrei Fisher chose to leave the team and redshirt the remainder of 2018. Nance is at Missouri and Fisher is with Oregon State.
Junior wide receiver De’Vion Warren will miss the game with a concussion as well. Since he and Hayden are the primary kickoff returners, Morris mentioned Nathan Parodi as one of the players with that duty on Saturday. Morris said he would have a better idea on the other one following Wednesday’s practice.