FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is preparing for San Jose State and a Saturday night game in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Hogs have played two games thus far in Fayetteville, but both had 3 p.m. kickoffs. Chad Morris talked about playing a night game on Saturday.
“First, we’re excited to be back home,” Morris said. “Especially being a night game. We feel like the crowd will be really strong and into the game. A lot of energy in the stadium. As a coach, as a player you always love those evening games. Everybody a chance to tailgate and have a good time through the course of the day. Get in the stands that night and support your team.
Arkansas is hoping to get the first two-game winning streak under Morris. Arkansas went 2-10 last season, but a win on Saturday will give the Razorbacks a 3-1 record. They defeated Portland State 20-13 in the season opener in Fayetteville and then topped Colorado State 55-34 this past weekend.
An area of improvement this season has been the play of the offensive line. Morris was very pleased with their performance this past Saturday against the Rams.
“Well, first of all with the offensive line, it is one of the better grades that they’ve graded out as a whole,” Morris said. “And, they continue to improve which is good to see. They had one TFL and gave up one sack. Great first down production. That’s a credit to a lot of things but it starts with our offensive line.
“I think our ability to throw the football helped our run game immensely. It allowed our running backs to be able to see our running lanes a little clearer. I think it all worked hand and hand.”
Against Colorado State in Nick Starkel’s first start, Arkansas had 520 yards of total offense. They rushed for 215 yards and passed for another 305.
In the win this past Saturday, redshirt freshman LaDarrius Bishop came in and played well in place of Montaric Brown. Bishop had a pass breakup and returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown. Morris talked about Bishop’s performance.
“I think Dae Dae came in and did a good job,” Morris said. “He’ll continue to provide some depth there for us. He’ll continue to improve. He’s just a young player that has got a big future ahead of him. I thought he made a couple of really good plays on the ball on our sideline late in the game. And obviously the scoop and score was big for him, a big confidence boost.”
One downside to last week’s victory was the injury to Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill. He suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the third quarter of the Razorback victory. The injury came on a hit from Arkansas safety Joe Foucha. Morris talked about that on Wednesday.
“It’s just very very sad for him and his team,” Morris said. “I reached out to Coach (Mike) Bobo, and you know, it’s just very unfortunate. After watching the play with Joe, Joe was just sick about it too. Joe, with him being tripped and going down, it’s just very unfortunate. This young man is a great talent. He’s one of the better passers that we would see all year long. Very sad for this young man.”
Next Saturday, Arkansas will have an 11 a.m. game against Texas A&M in AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Freshman wide receiver Trey Knox was very highly recruited and talked about what it means for recruits to know the Hogs are going to play where the Dallas Cowboys have their home games.
“I think it’s definitely very big because many kids don’t go to many NFL stadiums when they’re younger,” Knox said. “I know I didn’t. I’d just go to (Tennessee) Titans games or whatever. So going to play in an NFL stadium it’s otherworldly. I think it’s a great opportunity, so recruits should love it.”
During Wednesday’s practice, freshman wide receiver Treylon Burks wasn’t out there. Two junior linebackers, Bumper Pool and Hayden Henry, practiced without green protective jerseys. Senior defensive end Jamario Bell is expected to play for the first time since the opener. Morris talked about Bell and how he handled Tuesday’s practice.
“Yeah, a little bit fatigued, but that’s to be expected hadn’t practiced in awhile,” Morris said. “He’ll be back out there today going at it.”
Prior to Wednesday’s practice, Morris was asked about winning style points being important on Saturday night?
“Again, I say all the time, it’s how we play not who we play,” Morris said. “This football team needs to continue to improve. We’re gonna make some mistakes. We’ve got a lot of young guys on the field. It’s early in the season. You’re gonna make some mistakes. You’ve got to make sure the same mistakes they’ve been over the past two, three weeks. That’s our focus. Just us getting better each each side of the ball, each position group just getting a little better every day.”
Morris also was asked who would be the next quarterback in the game if the Hogs played a second one and if he would like to play KJ Jefferson?
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” Morris said. “I just want to be up. I think you would love to see all of your young players get out there and have an opportunity to play.
“But look, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better. That was one game last week. We executed really well. The challenge is can we string weeks together and put good days on top of good days? And our main goal is to win a football game on a Saturday night in front of our home crowd and defend our home stadium.”
Arkansas and San Jose State will kickoff at 6:30 Saturday night on the SEC Network.
*** Morris said Mataio Soli will likely have to wear the large cast on his hand the majority of the season.
*** Junior center Ty Clary will be the offensive captain on Saturday night.
*** Morris also said junior linebacker Grant Morgan can play any number of positions not just the Mike behind Scoota Harris.