FAYETTEVILLE — Super senior linebacker Grant Morgan has had an excellent career at Arkansas and would love to finish it off with a win in the Outback Bowl on Saturday.
Morgan and the Hogs held their second practice in Tampa today. Morgan won the Burlsworth Award after making 96 tackles, including 38 solo, seven for loss, 0.5 sack, one interception, three pass breakups and six quarterback hurries. Sam Pittman said on Monday if the scout team gave the varsity a good look on Tuesday they wouldn’t do good on good on Wednesday. Morgan was impressed with what he saw from the scout team on Tuesday.
“I think it’s exactly what we expected them to do,” Morgan said. “They’ve been doing a really good job this break and bowl time. They’re guys that know their role right now is scout team and they’re giving it their all. That’s just as important as guys going out there as starters in the game. They know their role and they’re really doing a good job of showing us what to do and what they do. They’re watching film on Penn State and how they do certain things. It’s pretty cool to see how they’ve handled this. They gave us a really good look today.”
Morgan talked about the fun activities off the field the Outback Bowl has given them.
“We went to bowling yesterday and it was fun,” Morgan said. “It really is a different atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere we haven’t experienced ever. So as a team to be like we earned to be out here. We earned the right to be out here and enjoy this time.
“That’s why we love practicing in the morning. Because when we’re practicing in the morning like our day from when we wake up until we watch film. We’re all football, we’re all winning. That’s our main goal is to come here and win. After that we get time off and it’s like we can enjoy Tampa a little bit. It’s fun. It’s good to see guys in different element than football. You get to know the players a little bit better and your teammates you are out there walking on the street with them. You are talking and stuff instead of just talking football all the time. It’s been a fun trip. It really has and it’s good to see the coaches relax a little bit away from football and see them out bowling and stuff. It has been a good time.”
Morgan named some young linebackers who he’s excited about in the future.
“Linebackers for next year no matter what Bump (Bumper Pool) decides I know the linebackers is going to be in great hands with Coach (Michael) Scherer,” Morgan said. “A couple of guys, I’m not going to name them all, but two guys who stand out are AP, Andrew Parker, and Chris Paul. They play really well and you can even throw (Jackson) Woodard in there. We did a young guy scrimmage and Woodard and Chris Paul were making every play. They did a really good job. Those two guys, those young guys, and AP has done well, he’s a little older, but those young guys they’ve got a lot of football left in them in the SEC and they can play really good ball.”
While the football team hasn’t played since the Missouri game the players still have a full season of bumps and bruises from the schedule, but Morgan isn’t concerned with that.
“It has been good, but it’s football at the end of the day,” Morgan said. “You are going to get nicks and bumps and things like that. I can tell you right now this four weeks off and no one is 100% healthy. Every single person is fighting injury, but the thing is with this team we have we don’t care. We’re 100% ready to go play as hard as we can, but it has been good to not have to wear an elbow brace or a knee brace because it’s annoying. I like to use my arms and I like to use my legs. I finally feel really good so I’m excited for this game to kind of be able to do the things we want to do because we’re good at it, not because that’s what we have to do because we’re limited in a certain way so it’s going to be fun to watch these guys flying around too.”
Morgan also talked about how big this game is for the Hogs who haven’t been to a bowl since 2016.
“This is our national championship,” Morgan said. “This is our national championship because this is the biggest game Arkansas has been to in any of our careers being here. Coach Pittman’s second year being a head coach this is his national championship. This is the biggest game I’ve ever played in. This is my national championship. This is all of our biggest game. We’re going to treat it as such. Because that’s the way we deserve and the way Arkansas deserves that way. When we win, or whatever happens, we’re going to celebrate treat it as a national championship. That’s how we go about these things. We just try to focus on ourselves and not worry about the outcome of the game just knowing we’re here and going to give it our all.”
While Penn State has had some players opt out they still have quarterback Sean Clifford.
“Sean Clifford makes plays,” Morgan said. “He’s a good quarterback and knows how to make the play continue a little bit longer or he can just put it in a spot where his receivers can go get it. Their receivers are really good. No. 3 is probably going to step up and have a good game. They have athletes like everybody else. They have really good athletes. I think the one thing that stands out for them they have three really good tight ends. They find ways to be able to get their personnel for different mismatches against the defenses they’ve played against. So we’ve got to be able to find personnel to be able to match it, be able fit it and go stop it.”
Morgan was asked what his emotions will be like before he walks out to play his last game?
“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Morgan said. “I think that’s why my wife says I’m emotionless because I just focus on what the goal is and no matter what just keep going and keep going. I walk into the game and I’m going to treat it like it’s my last game. I think the COVID year helped me a lot because last year was my last game and then I came back. So I played every game like it was my last just like I have this year. To be able to be here and say this is my last game it’s going to be hard, but I know I’ve given my all to this team and state so I’m going to go away with a happy feeling no matter what.”
Arkansas and Penn State will kickoff at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday with the game televised on ESPN2.