FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas and Kentucky both had bye weeks to prepare for Saturday night’s game in Lexington.
Chad Morris said Arkansas has used it to get a lot of players back from the injury list.
“It’s always good to get back into a game routine,” Morris said Monday. “So we had an opportunity to get guys back healthy this past week during our open week. Go back and focus on fundamentals, focus on ourselves, focus on why we played as well as we played, and yet having to learn up some self-inflicted mistakes that are going to continue to push this program and push this team further this year in 2019. That was our big focus last week. We got guys back healthy. Should be a full capacity in our wide receiver room for the first time in quite some time, which is good to see.
“We had very few guys in yellow jerseys in yesterday’s practice. We had a few in green who are transitioning into a normal jersey this week at some point. So a very productive week. Any time you can step back and kind of focus on yourself and the fundamentals that need to – that maybe during the course of a game week you don’t have the opportunity to work as much on.”
At wide receiver, junior Jordan Jones is expected to play for the first time and true freshman Trey Knox will return after missing the Texas A&M game. Morris talked about what Jones could bring.
“Well, we hope he’ll provide an opportunity to stretch the field vertically for us,” Morris said. “Even more than what we’ve done. He’s obviously one of the fastest players on our team. So to get him back full speed would be a huge addition for us. For anything, for the depth in that wide receiver room we’ve been injured at most of the year, since fall camp.”
Junior quarterback Nick Starkel left the A&M game in the second quarter with an injury. Morris is excited to see him back this week and also talked Starkel and Knox getting extra work on Sunday.
“Trey was in a normal jersey last night at practice running around and looked good,” Morris said. “So we anticipate him being back and being out there. So it was good to see him back. I know he and Nick spent some time after practice working on a few things. That’s what you hope to have.”
Sophomore Tyson Morris has caught nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown against San Jose State. Despite getting Jones and Knox back don’t expect the former walk-on Morris to see his playing time go away.
“I think No. 1, Tyson’s a tremendous worker,” Chad Morris said. “He’s a great leader. But more importantly, as you look at how he has helped this football team, with us losing Deon (Stewart) in fall camp, someone had to step in that role. And then Jordan went on. So Tyson’s role just kept elevating.
“He’s obviously made some plays. He played 50-something snaps the last game as a walk-on wide receiver. And he’s making catches, he’s scored some touchdowns this year. He’s made some key catches for us. A young man that’s providing great value, and he’s maximizing his opportunities when he gets them. I anticipate him continuing to play for us.”
Morris was awarded a scholarship by Arkansas prior to the season. He is the son of former Arkansas basketball great Isaiah Morris.
Arkansas also expects to have a healthy unit on the offensive line. Junior center Ty Clary and senior offensive tackle Colton Jackson should be ready to go for Kentucky.
“We anticipate Ty being back tomorrow at practice,” Morris said. “We’ll see. Same way with Colton Jackson. We’ll see both of those guys. But overall from there, that’s really the only two that we have that would be out right now. But we anticipate those guys being back.”
Senior defensive tackle McTelvin Agim missed some practice time last week with a knee injury, but Morris is pleased to have him back.
“We got an opportunity to get him back,” Morris said. “He was one of the guys to get back healthy last week. He was out there yesterday. He was in a normal jersey and I anticipate him being full go. I think where he is and how well he’s playing right now, it would take something really substantial to keep him out of a game. So I’m excited about him and watching him grow and continuing to improve. I think he’s having a good, or a really good year, with an opportunity to have a great year.”
Morris also had some good news possibly coming soon on true freshman Mataio Soli. It appears the large cast on Soli’s hand may be removed soon.
“As of last night, it has not happened yet,” Morris said. “We think it could happen this week, and I know he’s ready to get it off.”
It appears that Arkansas’ secondary could be getting an additional boost from a pair of true freshmen soon too.
“Well, Malik Chavis may be a guy,” Morris said. “We continue to bring those guys along. Again, it’s really hard to say all of them. We anticipate Jalen Catalon. I know he’s played in a game or two. He’s continuing to improve and impress us. Providing depth, again, there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to that.”
John Chavis, Arkansas’ defensive coordinator, also talked about Chavis and Catalon.
“With Malik he’s a guy that’s obviously very talented,” Chavis said. “We’ve got to push to get him ready. Malik has got great size and great speed. He’s a guy we need on the field if we can get him ready. Catalon is a guy that is a playmaker. You look at him in scrimmages where he was the same way. He’s a guy when he’s out there in practice he can find the ball and get to the ball. He can certainly make plays.
“We’re gonna keep pushing the envelope and try to make sure we’ve got our best players on the field. Certainly those two have a chance to get there. We’ve got to continue to build depth and that’s part of it.”
Arkansas will face Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. The following Saturday they will return home to host Auburn at 11 a.m. Both games are slated for the SEC Network.